What exactly is project management? It began in the late 19th century and was driven by the benefits it gave to businesses by organizing the resources and the need of coordination among all who were involved in the project. It is an art of managing people and the science of doing it systematically. It is a one time effort taken to create a product or a service based on the customer's requirements.
Examples of projects that need to use project management skill approach are the building of big international airport, dam, bridge, scaling Mount Everest, getting married, project to send astronaut to space, new product development, launching of new marketing plan etc. The basic concepts of project management are quite similar for the majority of projects and their main characteristics are listed below.
It is a temporary activity taken to accomplish a unique purpose.
Has a definite beginning and end unlike mass production of certain products which are repetitive in nature.
Requires human resources, money, materials and the management of all these 3 elements. Usually the human resources are employed as ad hoc basis and most of them will leave the job after the completion of the projects.
Requires delicate planning as most processes could be new and uncertain.
It is a multi disciplinary project that involves many different professionals and personnel from different background and fields.
The project management skill framework can be summarised as the setting up of project management office in implementing the project to meet the expectations of stake holders by using human resources management, communications management, risk management and procurement management.
Couple with the time line given for the project, the cost involved and the scope of work, tools and techniques are developed and used to ensure that the project undertaken will be a success.
The responsibility of getting the project moving and ensuring its completion rest on the project manager that has been appointed to take care of the project. This person does not involve in the activities to produce the end results but will keep tab of the progress of work and ensure smooth communication flow between various parties. This person is the main link to the customer and the rest of the people.
Foresight is needed to ensure that a red button or emergency alert is activated in the event that the project is about to get out of control. The person taking this job has to be independent, results driven, good customer relation skill, business foresight, politically strong, technically competent, and a good communicator. The project management skill needed to work are based on the job functions below.
Definition of the project and its scope. Identify the stakeholders, decision makers and escalation procedures.
Task list development, time lines of each task and scheduling.
Study and identify the resources needed to implement the project.
Evaluate the project requirements and the risks. Preparation of contingency plan.
Track milestones of the project and do project review at each critical milestone.
Get all the resources needed. Change management procedure put in place in the event some changes need to be done in the midst of the implementation.
Regular reporting of project status to higher management.
The project management skill of a project manager demands multi skill in ensuring the success of the project undertaken. The basic skills required include leadership skill, planning skill, time management skill, communication skill, negotiating skill, influencing skill, managing people skill, contract management, problem solving skill and presentation skill.
Project Life Cycle
A project life cycle can be divided into 4 different phases.
Definition Phase Project definition include setting goals, objectives, scope of work and resources determination. The objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based. Its acronym is SMART.
Implementation Phase Once all the plan has been done and resources allocated, the project is kick off by setting up all the necessary facilities to get the project going.
Monitoring and Control Phase This is a critical phase as close monitoring is required to ensure that the project runs as per the plan otherwise appropriate actions have to be taken to ensure that it does.
Review and Closure Phase Once project has been completed, a final review and closure plan are implemented. This is to ensure that the customer is satisfied and agreed with the final outcome of the project.
Project Management Tools And Techniques
The project management skill include the ability to use some of the project management tools needed to help one in the project. Some of the common project management skill are:
Gantt Chart This chart is a bar chart that shows the tasks and activities as it occur over time. This is one of the fundamental chart that a project manager should master. Detailed activities and milestones are done here.
CPM Critical Path Method is used to determine the duration of a critical path and the activities that can be reduced to shorten the project duration.
PERT Project Evaluation and Review Technique is used for analysing the tasks involved to complete a given project. It is used to determine the time needed to complete each tasks and the identification of the minimum time needed to complete the entire project.
QCC Quality Control Circle is a group of non supervisors who volunteer to conduct group studies and make recommendations to the top management to improve the quality of work in their department.