Musings on Project Management - Henry Harvin

Do you know what exactly do you mean by this fancy term: ‘PROJECT MANAGEMENT’?

Well, you are not alone even i didn’t know until i wrote this article.

And the funniest part is, I have been part of project management team.
But not realized it.

YOU, please do not make this mistake.

Understand the true potential of this job role. This role is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Many firms make mistake by not hiring a Project Management Specialist.
Due to budget constraint and other factors.

This result is: 50% projects fail because, they lack expertise.

Let us not be a novice and understand all about Project Management.

Project Management

What is Project Management?

Project management is defined as the application of processes to achieve the specific goals and targets within the available constraints. The primary roadblocks are – scope, budget, time, resources and quality.  And the secondary difficulties is to optimize the inputs to meet the defined objective.

Project requirement includes application of –

  1. Knowledge
  2. Skill Set
  3. Tools and Techniques
  4. Methods and Processes

Well, you may think that project management is a new career option.

In history, it is older than;
Great Wall of China
Roman Aqueducts or Pyramids of Giza.

Surprised?

It is just that we didn’t realize it.

What do you think? How were the world wonders like The Great Wall of China or Pyramids of Giza were built? Can you believe they were built just like that with no planning in place?

It is difficult to believe right.

These wonders would not have become such iconic if there were no plans, schedule, teams, budget. Today, we call all of this as project management.
We have live example all this while and we call it a new concept.

Have you ever come across the famous Henry Gantt’s GANTT CHART or Dupont’s CRITICAL PATH METHOD sometime in your life?

Well, yes, we all studied these scheduling methods at some point in our life. We just don’t remember them.
But trust me, we all follow them in office or home without realizing.       

The only change is from technical management to the scope and skill set.
Today project requires management and leadership skills. The customer relation skills and technical skills

There has been a shift in the thought process. People and their skills are considered as ASSETS.

4 P’s of project management

We are all familiar with 4 P’s of marketing if you have studied marketing as a subject in your graduation or post-graduation. If not, nothing to worry.

Let us understand the core of managing a project.

A project’s success highly depends on how the 4P’s are aligned with the dynamics of the project. 

Project Management 4P's
What are these 4 P’s?
  1. People – Humans are one of the most critical resources for any project to become successful. Multiple teams contribute to the project. It is important to have dynamic people with good communication skills for a project to be successful. The other quality which is required for people is the ability to collaborate with a different set of audience.
  • Plan – One of the important aspects is to have a plan. The plan gives a direction to work upon. The more detailed the plan is designed the more clarity it will provide to people to follow. Planning involves many activities like forecasting, layout, designing etc.
  • Process – A project must have defined processes. It becomes easier to work, as it sets the approach and project governance.
    If the process is strong, the chances of project success become high.
  • Power – The power in project implies the line of authority, policies and decision making.

Roles in Project Management 

Like I mentioned above, people are one of the important aspects of managing a project. And a project is dependent on multiple people. Each individual has to perform his/her role for a project to become successful.

Project Management roles
Let us understand 6 key roles.
1.     Project Sponsor

A project sponsor is the senior person of an organization like a team head or group head. Example – A sales head would sponsor a project for a new sales tool, which will help the team to increase the sales volume. 
Here, the sponsor is a customer, end-user. As, this tool is going to benefit the team’s overall performance.

2.    Project Manager

A project manager is responsible for the overall project. From leading the team, budgeting to implementation of work.

3.    Supplier

A supplier can be internal or external.
Internal supplier could be the development team who is responsible for making a sales tool software.
External suppliers can be an agency responsible for arranging things.

4.    Team members

People responsible for implementing and completing the project

5.    Stakeholders

A stakeholder can be both internal or external who have a stake in the project.
The inner partner are director in firm and external are public.
The project manager is responsible fora timely update on the progress of the status, take feedback on deliverables and performance.

6.    Clients

The ultimate receiver of the project.

4 Stages of Project Management

Every project is like a cycle which has a start, middle and end to it.
Therefore, it has several phases in which it operate.
Let us understand 4 stages in managing a project.

Project Management stages
Initiation

Initiation is the first phase of the project management cycle. This stage answers all the Why’s and How’s of the entire project. This stage is important to determine investments in the project.
It clearly defines objectives, purpose, the scope of the project. The most important deliverable and outcome to be produced.

8 key steps which define Initiation
  1. Develop a business plan
  2. Feasibility check
  3. Create a project charter
  4. Know your stakeholder
  5. Appointment of a project team
  6. Setting up the project office
  7. Review the project
  8. Seek approval to move forward
Planning

Planning is the second phase of the project management life cycle. This stage is the heart of the project.

Once the project initiation is completed.
Thinking to the overall project, planning of detail and deliverable are documented.

11 steps of planning

  1. Creation of a business framework
  2. Analysing the case from all perspective
  3. Identify the stakeholders
  4. Seeking approvals from all parties involved
  5. Defining project scope
  6. Laying goals and objectives
  7. Determining deliverables
  8. Creation of project milestones
  9. Task assignment
  10. Defining deadlines
  11. Review
Execution

Execution is the third stage of the project life cycle. This phase is extremely important as it brings the planning into action. Without diligent execution of the project, entire planning goes for a toss. The purpose of the execution stage is to deliver the expected deliverables.

4 key factors of execution include-

 

Project Management Execution
Steps involved in the execution of the project
Project Management execution stages
Closure

The closure is the last phase of project management cycle.
This phase ensures the final closing of all the activities which involved.
This phase is important from proof of learning for future reference.

5 steps in closing the project involve

  1. Handing over the deliverables to your customer
  2. Handover the documentation to the business
  3. Cancelling supplier contracts
  4. Releasing staff and equipment
  5. Informing stakeholders of the closure of the project

7 steps checklist

  1. Work done as per the requirement
  2. Procurement closure
  3. Formal Acceptance of the project
  4. Final performance reporting
  5. Indexing and Archiving records
  6. Lessons learned
  7. Handing over the project to the end-user/client

Core components of project management

There are many things which are involved in a project from beginning to end. Here is a list of 14 core components which defines the entirety of any project.

  1. Defining the project
  2. Reasoning why the project is required on a first place
  3. Identifying project requirement, specifying deliverables
  4. Understanding resources and timescales
  5. Preparing a business plan
  6. Arrangement of funds
  7. Implementation of the project
  8. Motivating all teams involved to achieve targets
  9. Managing the risks
  10. Monitoring process
  11. Communication with all stakeholders
  12. Timely update of the project to all the parties involved
  13. Submission of final report and deliverables
  14. Closure of the project

Methodologies and Approaches in Project Management

There are many approaches which can be used in a project. The methodologies keep on changing with time. You cannot work in only one style. It has to be a mix of approach. Each manager has to decide which approach has to be followed based on his experience and requirement.

7 common approaches in project management are

1. Agile

Agile, as the name suggests is a dynamic approach, which is an easy to adapt approach based on the changing customer needs.
This approach is for products that keeps changing during the process.
Regular feedback is provided to team members to adapt to the changing requirement.

2. Waterfall

In waterfall style, one phase has to complete before moving to the next stage.
The tasks listed have to be followed in a particular order.
This type of approach requires extensive planning at every stage. It is like of core of this style.
The task allocated to each member has to be executed in a strict order. The best thing about this approach is, it saves a lot of time and money.
But the loss of this method is simple, any changes will be hard to adapt.

3. Six Sigma

This style of approach works best for quality control. The main focus of this approach is to identify and reduce bugs, defects, errors. This approach is based on data, statistics and analysis. This is best suited if you need uniform products.

The six steps include –

  1. Define
  2. Measure
  3. Analyse
  4. Improve
  5. Control
  6. Synergize
4. Lean

This approach focuses upon customer feedback, bottlenecks removals, improvement in repetitive process and to eliminate waste. This style involves small teams which deliver high results in a short time. This method helps the organization to adapt to changing customer behavior and requirements.

This style is cheap and provide better results with limited resources.

5. Critical Path

Critical path method helps in prioritize task and helps in identifying the shortest timeline to complete the project. With this approach, a project manager can easily track the milestones, dependencies and deadlines.

In this model, 5 elements are used to create a project

  1. Listing the required tasks
  2. Highlighting critical and non-critical activities
  3. Number of hours required for each task
  4. Dependencies
  5. Milestones

Using this approach, you can complete the task faster with a fair allocation of resources along with the removal of bottlenecks.

6. PRINCE 2 (Projects in Controlled Environment 2)

In PRINCE2 approach, control is divided between higher management and project manager. The higher management takes care of resources and setting up of business.
A project manager is in charge of the daily task and team management.

This style gives higher control over –

  1. Available resources
  2. Risks
  3. Accountability
  4. Regular review
  5. Planning and execution
7.  PRISM (Project Integrating Sustainable Methods)

The name itself says this is the sustainability approach. This method is usually used in the organization where the environment plays a bigger role. Companies in the construction, architecture field follow this approach. 

Key Features in project management

Useful features of project software, which can enhance the efficiency and productivity of your team members.

Project Management feature
Gantt Chart

One of the best features for scheduling.
There are multiple software available both interactive and joint.
And it alerts via mail or text if changes made in the scheduling chart.

Dashboard

The dashboard is a summary of project data points and updates.
Like task status, budget, overall plan status, role status etc.
It is advisable to have a real-time live dashboard with update the project data.

Tasks

There are many tools available which can help the team members to segregate their tasks with other members. Like they can see their task status only, alert of upcoming tasks etc.

Project Calendar

Project calendar tools like google calendar which gives an easy to read look.  All the tasks are summarized in a simple way.

Workload

This tool can be useful for the manager to understand the workload on the team members. It will be easy for the manager to check if any of the members is overloaded or underloaded with the work.

Timesheets

Time sheet helps the manager to check the project by hourly cost of employee.
This tool is usually more useful in industries like IT, manufacturing or construction where the workforce is hired/paid basis the number of hours they have worked.

Collaboration

For better efficiency, collaboration tool helps in a big way. Features like sharing the documents, feedback/commenting option saves a lot of time. This feature is extremely useful if team members are located in different parts of the country.

Mobile

This feature helps the team to stay updated if any members are on the field.
It is easy to share pictures and files on a real-time basis. This tool helps to locate the location of a team member if required.

Security

This is one of the most important feature to look upon.
Security of data and information is important. 
The software has inbuilt security systems but some firm need site fixes.

Integration

Each organization have a different requirement for the integration of software and applications. A project manager helps in integrating protocols with the tools.

Role of Project Manager

Who is a project manager?

A project manager is a person who is responsible for all the elements of the project from initiation, planning, designing, implementation, monitoring, controlling, to the closure of the entire project.

The success or failure of the project depends upon the decision taken by the project manager

What exactly does a project manager do?

A project manager is responsible to manage end to end process.  3 critical task of the project manager include –

  1. Planning and Execution – Facilitating commitment, productivity and removing obstacles
  2. Team Management – Managing all the teams by motivating team members
  3. Expectation and Delivery – Managing Expectations by alignment to business goals, managing stakeholders, updating project status, achieving milestones and difficulties efficiently

6 Key Skills of an effective project manager

Qualities and skills required to be a successful project manager are –

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Time management
  5. Negotiation
  6. Team management

Benefits of hiring a Project Manager?

Now the biggest question is what value does a project manager add to my business?

How will the organization benefit from it?

There are numerous benefits to an organisation if they hire a project manager specialist.  Here is a list of 9 benefits which a project manager will bring on the table.

  1. Experience – A qualified project manager brings capability and experience that a project requires
  2. Knowledge – Specific domain expertise
  3. No conflict – There will be no conflict of interest with your business
  4. Minimum mistakes – There will no scope of mistakes as you have hired a specialist
  5. Risk Management – There will be minimum risk involved. The specialist experience will help in defining the objectives clearly and executing them with no risk involved.
  6. Quality
  7. Time and Cost Saving – Hiring a specialist will save time and cost because of his prior experience.
  8. Communication and Accountability – A project manager communicates with all the parties involved including stakeholders.
  9. Start to finish – The project manager is responsible for all the tasks involved in managing a project

It is advisable to hire a project manager specialist to achieve better results, lower risk and most importantly, to focus on your core business.

Follow the above steps and nobody can stop you to be a successful project manager.

Do come back to refer this, if you get stuck in the middle of your project.

Don’t forget to share this knowledge piece with your friends too.

And If you choose to make Project Management as your career option, start your client pitch/speech with these winning opening quotes –

“Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan” – Katherine Tate

And all I can say is – WELCOME to the project management WORLD.

All the Best!

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Author

Sarika Moghe is a Certified Content Writer, Travel Blogger, Meditation Teacher, and Pranic Healer. Ms Moghe is an MBA (Finance and Marketing) by qualification with 9+ years of corporate experience in the media industry as a research and marketing professional. She believes in- “Visualize the things you want. See It! Feel It! Believe it! And you will definitely achieve it” For more about her work, please follow her Website- https://sarikathanedarmoghe.com

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