Project Management for Beginners
Project management involves planning, delegating, monitoring and controlling all aspects of the project to achieve the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risk. These six performance targets, time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risk, must be managed and controlled throughout the life of the project.
As projects are used to introduce change and as project work entails a higher degree of risk than many other business activities, implementing a secure, consistent and proven approach to project management is a valuable business investment. Let us understand this with our earlier example. Construction of a new runway at an airport requires project management that involves a lot of co-ordination between various people, departments or business functions and vendors involved. It also involves delegating the work to respective vendors and monitoring the construction work as it progresses. Once the runway is constructed and fully ready for use, it becomes business as usual to handle the runway operations on a day-to-day basis.
Let us see another example for Project Management. Launching a satellite into space involves assembling the satellite, preparing for the launch, coordinating launch activities and finally launching the satellite. The purpose of project management here is to keep control over the specialist work required to launch the satellite.
Remember that we need Project management methodology because we want to:
- Keep control over the specialist work
- Manage the risks effectively
- Cost: The project must be affordable. Initially, there may be a particular budget. However, many factors can lead to overspending; there may be some opportunities to cut costs as well. In a PRINCE2 project, there would be cost targets set at various management levels, and at each management level, the respective role must keep these costs under control.
- Timescales: The next most frequent question asked of a Project Manager is the timescale of a project. As a project is a temporary organisation, it will have fixed start and end dates. The project Manager must ensure that these dates are adhered to.
- Quality: Finishing on time and within budget is not enough if the result of the project is not functional. In PRINCE2 terms, the project’s products must be fit for purpose. Producing or developing the Project’s final deliverable that meets a customer’s quality expectations and meeting acceptance criteria is paramount for any project manager.
- Scope: If the scope is not known, the various parties involved in a project may end up talking at cross-purposes. Most projects suffer from unclear scope and scope creep, i.e., constant changes in requirements. Therefore, it is very important for a Project Manager to keep the scope under control through monitoring.
- Risk: All projects entail risks; however, the amount of acceptable risk should be predefined. Risks are inevitable in any project. These risks must be identified, assessed and kept under control for the project to become successful.
- Benefits: The Project Manager must have a clear understanding of the purpose of the project as an investment and ensure that what the project delivers is consistent with achieving the desired return. Benefits are measurable and achievable improvements that arise after using the Project’s output or deliverable. These benefits help the project sponsors to arrive at investment appraisal and evaluate return on investment.
Six aspects of Project Performance
Let us look at the e six performance targets in detail. As per PRINCE2, the six project performance targets a Project Manager must manage are:
Role of a Project Manager
What do you think about the role of a Project Manager?
It is the project manager’s responsibility to plan the sequence of activities and work out the estimates. Project Manager prepares plans that contain activities to be undertaken to produce the project deliverable or output, puts these activities in a sequence, i.e., the order in which these activities must be carried out and calculates the effort required to complete these activities.
Project managers are also responsible for monitoring how well the work in progress matches with the original plan. This is popularly known as Planned versus actual monitoring. A Project manager is expected to collect planned and actual data about the six performance targets mentioned earlier (cost, time, quality, scope, benefits and risk) and generate various reports as required.
According to PRINCE2, ‘The role of a Project manager is to make the right information available at the right time for the right people to make the right decisions about the project. Those decisions include whether to take corrective action or implement measures to improve performance.’
A Project Manager typically plans, delegates, monitors and controls the Project work.