It is imperative in today’s generation to see corporate honchos answering emails at the eleventh hour and often discussing the pending work lined up and it’s a deadline. What are these pending work or tasks? and why do they have a deadline for it? The apt term for these tasks is a project.
What is a Project
A project is a specific activity to bring different element in a cohesive manner to create a unique product or to offer a service with a definite purpose. The term project is not to be used for our daily mundane activities because a project has to produce a result with preset requirements.
Suppose you are having an art exhibition in your society on the coming Sunday. So here, the deadline for the preparation is on Saturday. Before the event, you may have to finalise a theme. Once your theme is finalized you have to elaborate on the plan of your exhibition. You can curate it with a bunch of people or you can manage alone. You may also look out for resources you require to set up an exhibition. Next, you have to ask the artist to showcase their work pertaining to your theme. Simultaneously spread the word about an exhibition to be held so that the audience may pay a visit. Now the big day dawns and you have to be on your toes to manage the exhibition. So you have completed the exhibition now you will see what went well or where you needed to improve and what you can do to fix things up, and also this is the most crucial step after completion of the task.
Any event, occasion, game, or service can be termed as a project for the time of period until it is being completed.
What is Project Management?
Project management is precisely knowing the goals, the methods employed to achieve those goals, resources required and the length of time or period required to achieve the specific goals. If the project is undertaken by a team it is necessary for the entire team to know the motive behind a project. The person or the team who administers and are the part of the project is a project management team.
History of Project management
Did you ever wonder at the greatest, ancient monuments or archaeological structures which stand tall proudly since it’s creation? It was built by people like you and me. Well, project management has been existing since man started discovering and inventing things. Historical monuments like pyramids, Great Wall of China, or Taj mahal all of them are the brainchild of an individual but with proper planning, guidance and management they are physically standing erect or else they would still be in the minds of an individual. Hence project management is not new in today’s world. It has been christened as Project management after big corporations came into existence.
The concept of project management is a disciplined process from the beginning until the end of the project. In order to make every project successful there goes elaborately detailed planning.
The essential steps (SMART) to look on for while discussing the project plan are:
To determine the goal of the project it has to be specific without any confusion. You may ask the question like what, when, why, who, where and how
Once the goal is decided, decide a criterion against which you can measure the success of the project
Identify the goals which will be achievable and what are the requirements to achieve them. For instance, the goal should not be to ask the beginner to climb a Mt. Everest within a day. It is not achievable
You should be able to work towards the goal. It shouldn’t be abstract
The project cannot go on for lifetime hence it needs to have a definite end within a definite period
Phases of project lifecycle
We always plan in detail our month long vacation or even sightseeing for a day which helps us to coordinate and pace ourselves.
The same applies for projects. If the key milestones are known to you then it’s simple to figure out what is to be done. It includes allocation of the resources, planning the budget, ensuring on time delivery which will help us to cater development of the project piece by piece.
There are 5 steps for the lifecycle of project management -Initiation,Planning, Execution, Monitoring and closure. Here is a diagram of a conventional life cycle of project management.
It shows you a map of your project with key stages and you can see they are interdependent on each other. When you to visualise the data for a specific project, it gives you a birds eye view of everything in one go. Therefore, you have to be thorough with your project development from start to end.
This step is important because it will reason out your project existence. What are the risk and obstacles involved while working on a project? How will you solve it? Is it feasible? What’s the scope of your project and who will you involve in the project? This requires discussion with your team members who you will be assigning the workload of the project. The primary aim of this phase is how the project will help your organisation to grow.
Many projects also require investments therefore, allocation of resources and seeking permission from the leaders and financial stakeholders will be a well-thought project proposal. You have to collate the information and convert it into statement of work for your next phase i.e. Planning
Phase 2 Planning
Here in this phase of planning you have to break down your entire project into nuggets based on your statement of work.
The more you plan the higher are the chances of your project being successful. Decide whether you have to use a bottom – top approach or top – bottom approach. It depends upon the type and nature of the project. You have to consider the assigned budget, resources and the time frame for your entire project. You can use workflow diagram for easy access that will give you a top to bottom view of all the individual task and the flow of information of the individual in team.
Here is the planning phase checklist
- Create a project plan involving schedules and important dates
- Then create a workflow diagram, which ill also include time frame, scope of your work and possible obstacles
- Create a financial planning with help of the finance team which includes total investments, and estimated cost and return
- Gather resources required for your project
- Assign proper roles to your team depending upon their skills, Ask your other staff members for external help. This phase also includes if any special training is required by any of the members of the team in order to perform to the best of their ability.
Phase 3 Execution
Uptil now your project was on the paper but now in this phase your project sprang to life. Here, you can see the actual things happening in real and if you are a manager you have to maintain time lines, stick to the budget and be in touch with the team members to see they are sticking to the plan. Here you will also have many obstacles while working hands on so you should be ready with the solution or adapt to back up plan if any curve ball is thrown at you. As your team is aware of the task to be done the important step here is a communication. Give instruction accurate, easy to understand and in line with business objectives.
Phase 4 Monitoring
Here you have to scrutinize the entire project and see to it, it is going in hand in hand with planning. You have to check your budgets, motivate your team members, check the quality of the work whether the standards expected by clients are met or not. If you are offering a product here you can have a sample or a prototype to test it.
Phase 5 Closure
Congratulations.. If you reach this phase means your project has become successful. It can be handed down or shown to the client. It is a basically a wrap up phase but you also have to evaluate the project success.
Has your project goal been accomplished? Was it in the time bound decided by you initially? Were your team members up to date with their work skills? Did you keep a track on the documentation in order to produce in front of your leaders and client’s?
This step is easy if you have followed all the above 4 steps properly or it will be a mess for you.
Role of a Project Manager
It is not a cakewalk for anyone to manage a project.You cannot do it by sitting in your office and giving instructions. You have to throw yourself into the project to make it successful. Therefore, the role of a project manager is synonymous to a multi-tasker
- You have to organise a schedule
- Keep your team members motivated
- Balance the budgets
- Meet the deadlines
- Measure your work with that of your planning
- Work on your project lifecycle
- Share the details of the work with the clients and your in charge boss
This is just the tip of an iceberg, you are solely responsible for the entire project to be completed and also to ensure that it is on a clear path to success.
Best Project Management Methodologies
After going through each phase of the project management lifecycle you came to know how arduous and complicated managing a project could be. In order to simplify your work here are famous methodologies which will help you in your project management.
As you know one size doesn’t fit all but there is always something for everyone. According to your project, you can choose a method applicable to you.
- Agile project management methodology – This methodology grew after surging of the software industry. It is used mainly in IT and software industries. This methodology can easily manipulate the changes without wasting time and money. It focuses on a lean iteration model in delivering project which is a polar opposite to a traditional waterfall methodology. Here the goals are breakdown and achieved in milestones. After each milestone it can be reviewed and if necessary changes can be made if it is not suited to clients’ needs. The main aim of this methodology depends upon flexibility and feedback from the client. Tasks are prone to constant changes in agile methodology. The agile methodology is apt for unpredictable projects where the scope of the projects are ambiguous.
- Scrum methodology- It works on the same principle as that of agile methodology. Here the team works on multiple tasks of a single project simultaneously. Scrum methodology is used for short term projects lasting for a week to months. The team has a pursuit of working on high priority task. Before the project starts, the team discusses with stakeholders the backlog task that needs to be completed. Then the team prioritize the task that needs to be completed in each pursuit. Once the project task are completed they have a stand up meeting with stakeholder to review the project. After that the team review their performance and make adjustments for future tasks. The scrum methodology is not suitable for longer-term or complex projects that call for a big team.This methodology is also not suitable for multiple projects at one go like banks.
According to Mishkin Bertieg, a scrum implementation expert, scrum is suitable for an organization who are facing a crisis and needs a short term solution quickly, teams that are high performing and needs to scale and new development projects.
- Kanban Project Management Methodology – Although it shares it’s arm with Agile and Scrum methodology, it is not precisely using Agile methodology. It emphases on visualised task management. Projects are broken down into chunks and if possible again broken down into subtasks. This gives an idea and clarity to the project with minimum time. The tasks are classified in past, present and future tense. This does not lead in confusion for team members. This methodology does not support multiple tasking at one time. When it comes to tracking of work, Kanban focuses on the outcome of the project.Kanban is basically used in organisation projects where there are no fixed priorities.
- Lean Project Methodology- According to It’s definition it’s prime focus is to add more value and generate less waste. It used in financial sector, administrative work or few internal projects.The lean methodology works on following principle
- It standardised the project to streamlined the process
- Removes everything which doesn’t add value to the customer
- Works at an optimal pace with clarity
- Reduces innumerable projects you are working on to deliver high quality work
Source Project Management Institute
4. Waterfall Methodology – This is the traditional methodology used before the above methodology had been used. Perhaps,this methodology could have been used in building ancient monuments. This methodology is the antithesis of agile methodology as it uses linear methodology. It cascades down the task one after the other. The project scope and deliverables are discussed by having a meeting with stakeholders. After agreeing to work on it, you have to test your first step and after it’s finalised you may jump onto the next step. Although it takes a lot of time for completion of a project, it is easy to implement. This methodology is best suited for short teams and precisely outlined projects. If you are dealing with unpredictable and long projects the waterfall methodology is not for you.
Choosing a methodology makes your work simple but choosing a project methodology depends upon your nature, scope and time assigned for your project. So whichever project methodology you choose you always have to keep your client and team in mind. If you are clear with the project definition and its outcome half the battle is already won
Importance of Project Management
The main aim of project management is to adhere to the principles. Without proper guidelines and plans your project will be messed up and chaotic. It helps in effective communication with the team members, it identifies the resources you require for a specific project. Moreover, the project helps in the growth of your organization.
Here are few benefit you gain while using project management effectively
- You get to know the tasks assigned to you and the resources required to complete the task including the budget
- You keep track on timelines.
- When you prepare a plan of your project you get a clear and fair idea as to where your project is heading.
- If any mistakes or errors are found you can lookout your detailed plan and make a cross check for reference
- If the problem cannot be solved by you or your team, you may assign people from outside to lookout for the loopholes in your project and make necessary amendments
- It gives a transparent view for each of the individual working on the project hence they can contribute in an efficient manner for development of a project
- It also allows you to gather information, prepare a report of your project so you can take appropriate decisions
- You may also allow your clients to witness everything on the project and ask for any opinions if it is not going according to the project vision during developmental phase