Project Management services
Project Management Services concentrate in planning, coordinating, and executing projects according to specific requirements and constraints. They perform some or all of the activities related to project work. Importance is placed on creating and maintaining project milestones and the project schedule. The goal is to complete the project on schedule and within budget.
Project Management Services support organizations to achieve project goals and objectives within scope, schedule, and budget constraints. They can also help improve the allocation of resources and drive the completion of the project’s objectives. The development of a project plan is critical, as this document defines and confirms broader goals and specific objectives. The project plan also identifies tasks, describes how goals will be achieved, and quantifies the resources that are needed. The project plan is effectively the project manager’s playbook.
Project managers should be involved in defining the overall project budget and specific timelines for task completion. Handing over a project to be ‘managed’, without the involvement of the PM, is a great way to set up a project for failure before it even gets started! Project managers are accountable for the costs, schedule, and quality of the project. Therefore, it is important the PM has buy-in’ on the budget, schedule and resource plans.
While managing the plan, Project Management Services operates within a recognized framework that ensures accurate and objective reporting. If a milestone is missed, then project planners and managers must take corrective action.
Project Management Process
There are five basic elements of Project Management (Figure 1).
This process signals the beginning of the project. In this phase goals and objectives are set, scope is defined, and project deliverables are determined.
Project management begins with planning to achieve a objective. Several questions about a project must be considered before it even begins:
- Why is the project required?
- What problem is being solved?
- Who are the project’s stakeholders? (The stakeholders are the “customers” of the project as well as anyone else that may be impacted.)
- How does the project fit within the organization’s goals and priorities?
- When is the target date of completion for the project?
These questions are often part of a business case, developed and presented for executive/board approval to initiate a project. The questions, and answers, should be documented in the Project Charter. The project charter documents and tracks the necessary information required by decision maker(s) to approve the project for funding. The project charter should include the needs, scope, justification, and resource commitment as well as the project’s sponsor(s) decision to proceed or not to proceed with the project. It is created during the Initiating Phase of the project.
This process plots a course of action to achieve the project objectives and refines that course en-route. The two categories of planning are; Core Planning Processes and Facilitating Process.
Core Processes: have clear dependencies that require them to be executed in the same fashion on most projects. Examples include scope planning, schedule development, resource planning, and cost budgeting.
Facilitating Processes: are dependent on the vibrant nature of the project and are completed intermittently and as needed – though not optional. Examples include quality planning, staff acquisition, and risk identification.
This phase is key to successful project management and focuses on developing a roadmap that everyone will follow. Note the scope of work, WBS, Milestones, Gantt chart or schedule, communication plan and risk management plan are created at this stage. The key for the project controls person is to quantify the targets as much as possible. This will allow an organization to measure its goals and targets in order to assess the situation.
This involves the coordination of resources for the performance of the project. As this phase continuously evolves throughout the project, the processes are divided into core and facilitating categories. The central core process – project plan execution – oversees facilitating processes such as team development, information distribution, and solicitation. In this phase, the deliverables of project are completed.
Project Monitoring and Control
PMBOK® defines Project Control with the following statement: “A project management function that involves comparing actual performance with planned performance and taking appropriate corrective action (or directing others to take this action) that will yield the desired outcome in the project when significant differences exist.”
In this phase progress/status reporting, and risk monitoring and control are central. These processes work with facilitating processes such as cost control, quality control, and schedule control to ensure the project stays on track. These processes ensure that project objectives are met and that corrective action can be taken should a problem arise.
In this phase the project is delivered, accepted, and brought to an end. Two elements of closing are:
Contract Closeout; in which any outstanding open items are resolved and the contract is completed, and
Administrative Closure; the gathering of information to finalize project completion, including compiling lessons learned for use in future projects.
Of notable mention is that the individual processes are not one-time events. They are overlapping activities that occur at varying levels of concentration throughout the course of the project. Using these standardized project management practices can help organize any project, resulting in a smoother, less stressful endeavor.
Project closure is the last phase of the project management process. Upon the end of implementation phase, preliminary acceptance of the project result is accomplished; yet minor items may still be open, summarized within a Punchlist. The remaining claims need to be settled and lesson learned document needs to be finalized and discussed with the team. The reports need to be finalized.
Communication is an important aspect of project management that cannot be forgotten throughout the course of the project. All of a project’s stakeholders should receive regular updates via email, meetings, conference call, or by viewing a project’s dashboard. Communication during all phases of the project can help avoid costly rework at a later date
Project Management TOOLS
A project can be organized and tracked using ‘tools’ such as, MS-Excel, MS-Projects, Primavera or other specialized project management software. A project manager can create charts in MS-Word, MS-Excel or use specialized software. Some examples of project management tools include:
- Gantt charts
- Project scheduling
- Resource planning
- Team collaboration
- Time recording and tracking
- Issue tracking
- Progress reporting (Figure 2)
Project Management Methodologies
Traditional Project Management
The traditional approach to project management is based on sequential steps. It has evolved to handle projects that clearly state a need, target date, and cost. The steps may vary by organization, but should include the five basic elements previously discussed.
- Initiation to gain an understanding of the scope of the project, identify stakeholders, and develop objectives.
- Planning to further define the objectives and break the work into manageable tasks. Time and cost estimates, sequence and scheduling, and resource assignment should take place during this step.
- Execution occurs after the project plan has been approved by stakeholders or other decision makers.
- Monitoring and controlling take place throughout the course of development so changes can be made as needed. Milestones are highlighted and regular reports are issued to stakeholders.
- Completion includes evaluation of the project, a final report, and handoff to the customer and permanent support group.
The waterfall model (Figure 3) is frequently used in the software development. The steps flow sequentially from one to the next like levels of a waterfall.
Critical Chain Project Management
By designing the project to deal with uncertainties, Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) allows for physical and human resource limitations. A critical path is identified to give priority to the longest sequence of tasks with resource constraints. The constrained resources are known as the critical chain.
The project plan may undergo resource leveling, the process of resolving conflicts of a person’s or machine’s time. As some tasks may be delayed due to conflict, other tasks must be shortened so that the project can still be completed by the target date. In some cases, it is desirable to contract out sub-projects to eliminate resource conflict
Extreme Project Management
Based on the frequent change and uncertainty, extreme project management is designed for projects with high stakes and short deadlines. Extreme projects place emphasis on innovation and quality of life. Requirements can change rapidly. The focus of extreme project management is less on templates and more on leadership, because a leader can help navigate a rapidly changing environment.
Agile Project Management
Frequently used in software development, Agile project management is one of the newest. Emphasis is placed on an integrated team of developers, managers, quality assurance, and customers and open communication is a key to the effectiveness of this method. Short-term deliverables called sprints allow for testing and changes.
Process-Based Project Management
Process-based management is a strategic form that is driven by the vision, mission, and values of a business that has six stages:
- Defining the process.
- Establishing methods of evaluation.
- Analyzing the performance of the process.
- Analyzing process stability and, if needed, setting new objectives.
- Planning improvements.
- Implementing improvements.
Event-chain methodology recognizes that certain risks are taken in project management that could delay or speed up outcomes. Scenarios for time-related processes can be determined by modeling these uncertainties. Project managers can use this method to determine if a chain of events could be triggered by a specific task, and plan to avoid or achieve that process.
The Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) methodology is used extensively in the UK government. It is a flexible method designed to balance current business operations with a need to transform those operations in order to remain competitive. The process itself is structured around managing the six project variables of costs, schedule, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.
Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods (PRiSM) is used to align project delivery and sustainability. PRiSM is a principles-based, sustainable methodology. It’s key difference from to traditional approaches is that it incorporates a value-maximization model that focuses on the total asset lifecycle. Although similar to PRINCE2, it differs because long-term organizational impacts are considered with this methodology. PRiSM puts projects into a more strategic focus by leveraging existing organizational systems to ensure that benefits are realized horizontally and vertically, with the utmost attention focused on process and product sustainability.
The lean methodology is based on the principle of lean manufacturing or lean enterprise that value for the customer is of utmost importance. Any steps that do not create value for the customer are considered wasteful and should be eliminated. Lean is based on four steps to be performed in a cycle of continuous improvement:
- Plan a simple, efficient system.
- Do the work involved to implement the system.
- Check the efficiency of the system.
- Act on the measures that were checked by continuing with the use of the new system or planning changes that should be made to further improve efficiency.
Benefits Realized Methodology
The Benefits realized methodology is based on looking at potential outcomes and defining the measure of their potential benefits. A quantitative basis is used to make decisions in this methodology. Plans are reviewed and implemented keeping the investment in mind.
A Project Manager is responsible for planning and executing a project. He or she leads the team in all aspects of management and is responsible for delegating tasks. A project manager may be employed by the company requiring the work or may be brought in from the outside. A project manager has full responsibility for the project in addition to the authority to complete it.
Some responsibilities of the project manager include:
- Developing the project plan
- Managing the stakeholders and team
- Managing the schedule and budget
- Managing the risks
- Managing the conflicts
Certification in Project Management
Certification in Project Management
A skilled project manager can manage any project regardless of industry-specific knowledge. PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is a set of standard terminology, guidelines, best practices, processes and tools that are accepted as standard within the project management industry. PMBOK is considered valuable for companies as it helps them standardize practices across various departments, tailor processes to suit specific needs, and prevent project failures.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) offer several types of certification based on level of experience or preferred methodology. There are several organizations which offer courses to prepare the individual for PMI certification.
A project manager may be certified or expert in:
- Professional standards based on methodology
- Industry standards
- Private standards for in-house methodologies