What is Project Management

What is project management is a popular question today and we will try to answer it in depth. Project management is the set of activities aimed at organizing the smooth running of a project and achieving its objectives. It consists of applying the methods, techniques, and management tools specific to the different stages of the project, from the evaluation of the opportunity to the completion of the project.

General principles of Project Management

Generally speaking, a “project” is a coordinated set of activities and actions undertaken to meet a need within a fixed time by mobilizing resources allocated to it3. Several more precise definitions coexist:

What is project management - definition and practicesAccording to ISO, “a project is a single set of processes, consisting of coordinated and controlled activities, with start and end dates, and undertaken to achieve the project objectives. Achievement of project objectives requires the provision of deliverables in accordance with specific requirements. This definition advocates a process approach, which forms the common basis for a set of ISO standards;
According to the PMI, a project is a “temporary enterprise initiated with the purpose of providing a single product, service or result”. This definition emphasizes the objectives of the project and the uniqueness of the project. Uniqueness does not exclude a repetition of similar projects (for example in industries whose mode of production corresponds to the project mode), but emphasizes that the approach of each project needs to be adapted according to characteristics that make it unique;
according to PRINCE2, a project is “a temporary organization, created to deliver one or more project outputs in accordance with an agreed business case”. This definition highlights the organizational component of projects while emphasizing the need to respond economically to economic objectives.

Projects are different from operations. The operations are carried out by means of perennial, continuous and repetitive processes and with resources. Projects, by their nature, are temporary, have characteristics that make them unique (innovation, change, product or service characteristics) and require a specific approach.

A project mobilizes during its realization identified resources (human, material, equipment, raw materials, informational and financial).

The expected results of the project are called supplies, products or deliverables. Understand more deeply about what is project management on the STC-Montreal.org website.

The components of project management

Project management is similar to management in general, but incorporates the temporary and unique nature of projects. We distinguish:

  • project governance, which provides strategic leadership for the project and defines the framework within which the project is implemented, including responsibilities, decision-making mechanisms, and budget;
  • project management processes, which aim to manage the project and its activities and which do not depend on the business area to which project management is applied;
  • product realization processes, which define the “project lifecycle”, and which depend on the business area to which project management is applied (for example: the life cycle for a construction project will not be the same as the life cycle of an IT project).

General project management methods are independent of product realization processes. There are general standards and project management standards such as PMBOK (Project Management Body Of Knowledge), PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments), ICB (International Project Management Association Competence Baseline), and international standard ISO 21500. They provide guidelines and good practices, and advocate an adaptation of the methods to the particularities of each project. Sector-specific project management methods can integrate the three components by also including good business practices.

When project management involves a set of projects contributing to the same objective, it is referred to as program management, project program, project management or project portfolio management depending on the industry and the scope of the project concerned. . A program is a collection of related or related projects whose management is coordinated in order to obtain benefits, benefits and control, which would not be possible by dealing with individual projects7. Program management is used to coordinate, align, reconcile, and follow up so that projects that are grouped together can maintain their strategic contribution.

In practice, “the project is geared towards the end goal, it must be adaptable to frequent changes but mastered and planned.

The roles in project management

Project governance is the responsibility of the sponsor. For larger projects, this responsibility can be collectively provided by a steering committee chaired by the sponsor.

Responsibility for project management rests with a project manager. Depending on the importance of the project and the hierarchical level, this role can be provided by a project manager.

The project is carried out by a project team under the responsibility of the project manager.

For more complex projects, the project team may consist of several independent teams, under the responsibility of a team leader. The project manager and the team leaders then form the project management team, to which other actors involved in project coordination can be integrated.

Depending on the context, actors or organizations involved in the project may be assigned a role of project management or project management (see also project management functions).

The stakeholders are all the actors directly involved in the project, as well as the actors outside the project and likely to be concerned by the project or its results, regardless of their organization of origin and their hierarchical level. For a specific project management role you can check the list of the best project management certification programs and pick a right one for you. A modern and Agile project management certification program is the one that BVOP offers and calls a Certified project manager.

Challenges of project management

The value creation model is before the project to identify and select an opportunity2. The project then creates a product that meets objectives. Once the project is finished, this product generates a result (“outcome”) through its effects. This result makes it possible in the long run to reap benefits6.

The products of the project can be:

  • works (for example: a section of motorway, a bridge),
  • tangible products with a unique character (for example: a made-to-order aircraft),
  • intangible products (for example: software, an advertising campaign, the design of a new car model),
  • services (for example: a move, a promotional event),
  • a change (for example: a complex internal rationalization operation, phasing the operation of two companies after their merger, or even two states as after German reunification)

Objectives can be characterized according to a combination of five aspects:

  • Functional: an answer to a need
  • Technical: respect for the specifications and the constraints of implementation
  • Organizational: respect for a mode of operation (roles, functions, culture, resistance to change) of the target structure
  • Deadlines: respect for deadlines (planning)
  • Costs: respect for the budget

A good practice is to use “SMARTE” objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Temporal, Ethical).

Contracts

A project may be the subject of a contract. This contract can be internal to the company in the case of a development linked to innovation, or commercial on the basis of specifications. Depending on the level of risk shared, the commercial contract is chosen between several types and adapted by contractual negotiation. For example: the fixed-price turnkey contract, the contract for promotion, the cost-reimbursement contract which may include a bonus for penalties and overhead. PGOV also shared a report with the best project management certifications for 2019 and 2020 year. Check this great PM Courses list to find out wich one would be a good fit your you.

Group dynamics

With regard to the psychosocial aspect of the management of a project team, Maders distinguishes five successive phases:

  • The observation stage corresponds to the meeting of the members of a project team.
  • The step of cohesion must make it possible to constitute a united team.
  • The differentiation stage makes it possible to take advantage of the differences between the members of the team.
  • The organizing step uses traditional project management techniques to formalize resource management, plan and control risk.
  • The production stage describes the effective operation of the project team. It is at this level that the different theories of management and leadership are most relevant.

In addition, a sixth phase, called a post-project review, is also recommended10, especially for product design projects.

Multidisciplinary

Complex projects often require the involvement of several trades and disciplines. A major challenge is to create a multidisciplinary team, by closely cooperating experts able to cover the needs of all the different directorates of a legal organization, marketing, IT, technical, personnel training, organization, logistics, communication, etc.

The 4 Ps of project management

Recent studies identify the 4Ps that describe to them 4 the entire culture of the project teams:

  1. Plan: This is all about the forecasting activities related to the project.
  2. Process: As it is well explained in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), the projects consist largely of predetermined and skilfully articulated processes.
  3. People: People who are active in a project are often at the heart of a large number of problems encountered during a project. The traitor combination (dreadful combination) consists of a poor quality plan associated with incompetent people with regard to the tasks to be performed.
  4. Power: refers to everything related to the lines of authority, decisions, organization charts and project policies.

Project Management Techniques

Project management requires the following process groups: launch, planning, implementation (ie project completion), control or control (ie, supervision) and monitoring) and closure (ie completion). These process groups are not sequential phases of the project, but are activities that can be applied throughout the life cycle. Thus, if for example a planning takes place at the beginning of the project, it can be limited to the main lines and be accompanied by a planning by phase or even by batch of work. Phrone published a comprehensive article about what is project management and its definitions and practices. It may help you gain more deep knowledge and understanding in the field.

In general, activities before deciding to launch a project may include the following activities:

  • establish a business plan by the precise analysis of the contract. This is a pre-study of profitability called business case or “Business Case” which explains why we do the project,
  • it allows to write a note of opportunity, it shows how the project is aligned with the strategy defined by the management,
  • define a business model,
  • inventory the risks in advance of the job and the project that will be launched.

Once the project is decided, the activities are:

  • plan the project in time, schedule the tasks, and steer the progress,
  • estimate the costs and monitor the budget (preliminary study of the costs and benefits or expected income in return, sources of financing, study of project,
  • operational and financial risks and various impacts …),
  • manage and control the risks,
  • to achieve the desired level of quality,
  • follow important operational and financial issues
  • Arrange contract amendments to cover change requests.

From the start of the project it is essential to set up the various tools (dashboard, risk management, planning, project review, etc.) to pilot the project throughout its lifetime, in order to to ensure its success or to advocate its eventual abandonment.

Product Management is a related discipline that requires similar approaches and comprehensive knowledge of modern processes and tools. here you can find an extended list of product management training courses offered by one of the best product management universities and organizations on the world.

Stakeholders Management

Stakeholders management involves identifying or defining for each stage one or more milestones representative of the progress of the project. It allows structuring the project in time by providing guarantees to the project manager. It facilitates the monitoring of the schedule and the progress of the works. It is the plan of the reviews and audits which organizes the measurement of the progress and the quality.

The milestones show the progress of the project. They can serve as a control point (“project gate” in English) and condition the commitment of the next phase. The decisions made during this phase change review are stable elements on which the rest of the project can be built. Staking is less concerned with the content of each phase than with the assessment of its outcome, where the client (or client) is led to decide.

Milestones depend on the project life cycle, for example:

Preliminary phase: a reflection on the interest of the project itself, in terms of strategic opportunity, depending on how the future looks.
Milestone for launching the project: the company management decides whether to launch a specific project (justified by an expected return on investment, a regulatory constraint, etc.). She then appoints a manager, a project manager and a team. It also allocates them a budget and material means.
Need expression phase: the definition of what is expected (the expected functions), the scope, what we will evaluate the project, what is important and what is less important.
Need validation milestone: the client validates the expression of his needs (so the evolutions in the needs approach can be traced and justify possible adjustments of the project plan), these are the bases on which the project will be built .
Feasibility phase: the study of what is technically and economically feasible. Consultation of potential contractors, comparison of technical and financial proposals of possible directors.
Milestone in the choice of solution: signing the contract that specifies what will be done and how to do it.
Design phase: the prime contractor coordinates the work on the “paper product”, to specify what must be done until the last bolt.
Site launch milestone (if applicable): when the “paper product” is sufficiently defined, we can take stock before starting the construction work.
Realization phase: the construction site is launched, work is progressing to transfer the “paper product” in the real world.
Verification phase (which can start very early, on the “paper product”): on the real product or on the paper product, one checks (or one calculates) that the expected characteristics are well with the rendezvous (with the possible deviations , which must then be managed).
Qualification milestone: after verification, the reference definition of the product is the correct one and will not be modified (at least, not so easily).
Delivery milestone (and recipe) still called acceptance: it puts the product in the hands of the customer, who becomes the owner (and can express reservations on the differences noted). This is the end of the project itself.
Operation phase, which usually begins with the lifting of reserves, and sees the end of the contractual relationship.

More about project management practices, definitions and tools, check on the Wikipedia-Lab website: What is Project Management, definition and usual practices and methods.

Some additional remarks:

The names assigned to the milestones depend on the project’s business culture.
The definition of the milestone must be unambiguous and observable or measurable criteria must make it possible to ascertain objectively whether the milestone has been reached.
Phases and milestones can be intertwined, especially when the milestone does not serve as a checkpoint. Exceptionally, this can also be the case in the case where the project management decides in agreement with the parties involved to proceed to the next phase knowingly, and that the completion of the milestone can be postponed without presenting any risks for them. following steps.

PMA for Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe countries started to join the project management training course of the PMA which is on Bulgarian language but Macedonian, Russian, and Serbian citizens already joint the course. PMA is a leader on the Balkans although they started their initiative this year.

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