Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavour with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. Project Management is the skills, tools and management processes required to undertake a project successfully.
•A set of skills: Specialist knowledge, skills and experience are required to reduce the level of risk within a project and thereby enhance its likelihood of success.
•A suite of tools: Various types of tools are used by project managers to improve their chances of success. Examples include document templates, registers, planning software, modelling software, audit checklists and review forms.
•A series of processes: Various processes and techniques are required to monitor and control time, cost, quality and scope on projects.
Examples include time management, cost management, quality management, change management, risk management and issue management. Traditionally, project management includes a number of elements: four to five process groups, and a control system. Regardless of the methodology or terminology used, the same basic project management processes will be used.
Major process groups generally include initiation, planning or development, production or execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing. In project environments with a significant exploratory element (e. . , research and development), these stages may be supplemented with decision points (go/no go decisions) at which the project's continuation is debated and decided. Most projects have four or five phases, but some have nine or more. Even within a single application area there can be significant variations—one organization’s software development life cycle may have a single design phase while another’s has separate phases for functional and detail design. Subprojects within projects may also have distinct project life cycles.
For example, an architectural firm hired to design a new office building is first involved in the owner’s definition phase when doing the design and in the owner’s implementation phase when supporting the construction effort. The architect’s design project, however, will have its own series of phases from conceptual development through definition and implementation to closure. The architect may even treat designing the facility and supporting the construction as separate projects with their own distinct phases. A project lifecycle is defined as a series of phases undertaken to deliver a required project outcome.
The phases of a project are divided based on the project undertaken. The phase sequence defined by most project life cycles generally involves some form of technology transfer or hand-off such as requirements to design, construction to operations, or design to manufacturing. Deliverables from the preceding phase are usually approved before work starts on the next phase. However, a subsequent phase is sometimes begun prior to approval of the previous phase deliverables when the risks involved are deemed acceptable. This practice of overlapping phases is often called fast tracking. Project life cycles generally define: What technical work should be done in each phase (e. g. , is the work of the architect part of the definition phase or part of the execution phase? ).
•Who should be involved in each phase (e. g. , concurrent engineering requires that the implementers be involved with requirements and design). Most project life cycle descriptions share a number of common characteristics: •The probability of successfully completing the project is lowest, and hence risk and uncertainty are highest, at the start of the project. The probability of successful completion generally gets progressively higher as the project continues. The ability of the stakeholders to influence the final characteristics of the project product and the final cost of the project is highest at the start and gets progressively lower as the project continues.
A major contributor to this phenomenon is that the cost of changes and error correction generally increases as the project continues. In general, the project life cycle consists of four phases:
•Project Closure I.
The first phase of a project is the initiation phase and essentially involves starting up the project. The project is initiated by defining its purpose and scope, the justification for initiating it and the solution to be implemented. This phase also involves recruiting a suitably skilled project team, setting up a project office environment and performing a phase review before proceeding to the next phase of the project management life cycle: project planning. Activities of project initiation The project initiation phase involves the following six key steps: •Develop a business case
In most businesses, completing a business case is the first step towards initiating a project. The business case justifies the start-up of the project and describes the Business problem (or opportunity) that currently exists in the business. -Alternative options for delivering a solution to resolve the problem. Benefits and costs associated with each alternative solution. Recommended solution for approval. The following diagram depicts the steps involved in creating a business case:The first step in developing a business case is to identify the business problem or opportunity that results in a need for a project.
Alternative solutions are listed and, based on each solution’s individual merits, a preferred solution is recommended. The last step taken when creating a business case is to define a plan for the implementation of the agreed solution. At some point during or after the creation of the business case, it may be necessary to undertake a feasibility study to ensure that the solutions identified can feasibly be implemented. Once the business case has been documented, it is presented to a project sponsor for approval.
The project sponsor oversees the project at a strategic level; they authorize the project to proceed, allocate funding from their budget and ensure that project objectives are achieved by participating in phase reviews. Creating a detailed business case is a critical step in the project lifecycle, as it provides the basis upon which the project is initiated. Throughout the project, the business case is referred to frequently to ensure that the project is on track. For instance, it is used in a Phase review to ensure that the current project costs and benefits are in line with original projections.
Project closure report to ensure that the project has achieved all the criteria required to close the project. -Post implementation review to measure the extent to which the project has achieved its stated objectives. Undertake a feasibility study A feasibility study is undertaken to determine the likelihood of the alternative solutions actually meeting the customer’s requirements. A feasibility study adds depth to a business case by researching the business problem in more detail, identifying the requirements for a solution, and determining whether the alternative solutions are likely to meet the requirements stated.
The steps involved in undertaking a feasibility study are shown in the following diagram: The feasibility study should always be started by researching the business problem or opportunity that the project addresses. The customer’s requirements should then be documented for a solution and a feasibility assessment should be completed to measure the likelihood of each alternative solution actually meeting those requirements. By ranking the results of the feasibility study, a preferred solution can be recommended for implementation, based on the overall feasibility rating.
Once the feasibility study is complete, it is presented to a project sponsor for approval. •Establish the terms of reference After documentation of the business case and after the feasibility study of the preferred solution has been undertaken, the scope of the project is defined to deliver the solution to the customer. To formally define the scope of the project, a Terms of Reference (TOR) need to be documented. The TOR outlines the purpose of the project, the way it will be structured and how it will be implemented.It describes the project: ision, objectives, scope and deliverables (ie what is to achieved); stakeholders, roles and responsibilities (ie who will take part in it); resource, financial and quality plans (ie how it will be undertaken). The TOR may also be referred to as a ‘project charter’ or ‘project definition report’. It is usually presented by senior management in the business to the business sponsor or customer for approval. It is completed after the business case and feasibility study have been approved but before the project team is appointed.
The TOR also defines the scope of the project, within which all deliverables are produced. Project activities will only be undertaken outside the defined scope of the project if a valid change request form has been approved. •Appoint the project team The following diagram depicts the steps involved in setting up a project team: Regardless of the company size or industry, most projects will undertake the above steps in order to recruit a team of skilled and qualified staff. The first step involves identifying the roles involved in undertaking the project, as well as the number of staff required to fulfil each role.
The responsibilities of each role are then listed and a formal recruitment process implemented to appoint people to the project. •Set up the project office The project office is the physical premise where the project administration like the project manager and the staff reside. The project office also contains the communication infrastructure and information technologies required to support the project. Every project team relies on the tools, guidance and processes provided by the project office to undertake its project tasks quickly and easily.
So setting up and running an efficient project office environment is critical to the success of the project. The project manager also depends on the project office team to provide the information required to monitor and control the project effectively. •Perform phase review The last step in the project initiation phase is the completion of a phase review. This review is undertaken to determine whether all the planning activities and tasks have been successfully completed and to request approval to proceed to the planning stage of the project.
The following diagram depicts the steps involved in undertaking this review: Phase reviews are completed at the end of initiation, planning and execution phases to review the progress of the project to date and to seek approval to proceed to the next phase. There is no phase review at the end of the closure phase because approval to close the project is included in the project closure report. Once the scope of the project has been defined in the terms of reference, the project enters the detailed planning phase.
This involves creating a: project plan outlining the activities, tasks, dependencies and timeframes; resource plan listing the labour, equipment and materials required; financial plan identifying the labour, equipment and materials costs; •quality plan providing quality targets, assurance and control measures; risk plan highlighting potential risks and actions to be taken to mitigate those risks; acceptance plan listing the criteria to be met to gain customer acceptance; •communications plan describing the information needed to inform stakeholders; procurement plan identifying products to be sourced from external suppliers.
At this point the project will have been planned in detail and is ready to be executed. Activities of Project Planning •Create a project plan: The first step in the project planning phase is to document the project plan. The project plan includes a complete list of the activities required to complete the project. A ‘work breakdown structure’ (WBS) is identified which includes a hierarchical set of phases, activities and tasks to be undertaken to complete the project. After the WBS has been agreed, an assessment of the level of effort required to undertake each activity and task is made.
The activities and tasks are then sequenced, resources are allocated and a detailed project schedule is formed. This project plan is the key tool used by the project manager to assess the progress of the project throughout the project life cycle. The following diagram depicts the steps involved in creating a project plan: Create a resource plan: Immediately after the project plan is formed, the level of resource required to undertake each of the activities and tasks listed within the project plan will need to be allocated.
Although generic resource may have already been allocated in the project plan, a detailed resource plan is required to identify the: type of resource required, such as labour, equipment and materials; quantity of each type of resource required; roles, responsibilities and skill-sets of all human resource required; specifications of all equipment resource required; items and quantities of material resource required. A schedule is assembled for each type of resource so that the project manager can review the resource allocation at each stage in the project. Create a financial plan:
A financial plan is created to identify the total quantity of money required to undertake each phase in the project. The total cost of labour, equipment and materials is calculated and an expense schedule is defined which enables the project manager to measure the forecast spend versus the actual spend throughout the project. Detailed financial planning is an extremely important activity within the project, as the customer will expect the final solution to have been delivered within the allocated budget. Create a quality plan: Meeting the quality expectations of the customer can be a challenging task.
To ensure that the quality expectations are clearly defined and can reasonably be achieved, a quality plan is documented. A quality plan will summarize each of the management processes undertaken during the project, including time, cost, quality, change, risk, issue, procurement, acceptance and communications management. •Create a risk plan: The next step is to document all foreseeable project risks within a risk plan. This plan also identifies the actions required to prevent each risk from occurring, as well as reduce the impact of the risk should it eventuate.
Developing a clear risk plan is an important activity within the planning phase, as it is necessary to mitigate all critical project risks prior to entering the execution phase of the project. Create an acceptance plan: To deliver the project successfully, you will need to gain full acceptance from the customer that the deliverables produced by the project meet or exceed requirements. An acceptance plan is created to help achieve this, by clarifying the completion criteria for each deliverable and providing a schedule of acceptance reviews.
These reviews provide the customer with the opportunity to assess each deliverable and provide formal acceptance that it meets the requirements as originally stated. Create a communications plan: Prior to the execution phase, it is also necessary to identify how each of the stakeholders will be kept informed of the progress of the project. The communications plan identifies the types of information to be distributed to stakeholders, the methods of distributing the information, the frequency of distribution, and responsibilities of each person in the project team for distributing the information.
Create a procurement plan: The last planning activity within the planning phase is to identify the elements of the project to be acquired from external suppliers. The procurement plan provides a detailed description of the products (goods and services) to be acquired from suppliers, the justification for acquiring each product externally as opposed to from within the business, and the schedule for product delivery.
It also describes the process for the selection of a preferred supplier (the tender process), and the ordering and delivery of the products (the procurement process). Contract the suppliers: Although external suppliers may be appointed at any stage of the project, it is usual to appoint suppliers after the project plans have been documented but prior to the execution phase of the project. Only at this point will the project manager have a clear idea of the role of suppliers and the expectations for their delivery. Once a preferred supplier has been chosen, a contract is agreed between the project team and the supplier for the delivery of the requisite products. Perform a phase review: At the end of the planning phase, a phase review is performed.
This is a checkpoint to ensure that the project has achieved its objectives as planned. Project execution is typically the longest phase of the project in terms of duration which involves implementing the plans created during the project planning phase. While each plan is being executed, a series of management processes are undertaken to monitor and control the deliverables being output by the project. This includes identifying change, risks and issues, reviewing deliverable quality and measuring each deliverable produced against the acceptance criteria.
Once all of the deliverables have been produced and the customer has accepted the final solution, the project is ready for closure. Activities of Project Execution Build the deliverables: This phase involves physically constructing each deliverable for acceptance by the customer. The activities undertaken to construct each deliverable will vary depending on the type of project being undertaken. Regardless of the method used to construct each deliverable, careful monitoring and control processes should be employed to ensure that the quality of the final deliverable meets the acceptance criteria set by the customer.
Monitor and control: Monitoring and controlling consists of those processes performed to observe project execution so that potential problems can be identified in a timely manner and corrective action can be taken, when necessary, to control the execution of the project. The key benefit is that project performance is observed and measured regularly to identify variances from the project management plan. Monitoring and controlling includes: -Measuring the ongoing project activities ('where we are'); Monitoring the project variables (cost, effort, scope, etc. against the project management plan and the project performance baseline (where we should be); dentify corrective actions to address issues and risks properly (How can we get on track again);
Influencing the factors that could circumvent integrated change control so only approved changes are implemented. In multi-phase projects, the monitoring and control process also provides feedback between project phases, in order to implement corrective or preventive actions to bring the project into compliance with the project management plan.