You would need to What is project management and who needs to lead it? How do you make sure that any given project is successful? What kind of creative solutions do you need to make a project successful? In addition, these are only a few questions that come up to the mind of any entrepreneur when a business needs to embark on a project of any complexity. With this brief guide, we will try to answer at least some of the basic ones that can serve as a roadmap to making a project successful.
But, let us start at the beginning. What would be the definition of project management?
According to Project Management Institute, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. It is “temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.
From there, ASQ defines project management itself as “a collection of proven techniques for proposing, planning, implementing, managing, and evaluating projects, combined with the art of managing people. It is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a broad range of activities to meet the specified requirements of a particular project.”
While there are many project management techniques and tools, there are considerable differences in applying these methods to different projects. The basic principles apply in all situations. You must scale the project management methodology to fit the benefit-to-cost ratio for each situation.
Basic elements of project management
By their nature, projects are temporary tasks. But at the same time, project management is one of the most critical components of a successful business. It affects revenues and liabilities and ultimately interacts with customer or client satisfaction and retention (Balance Careers). Your project may be a large, complex, multiyear construction, it may be finding and shaping your brand identity or it may be designing a new logo for your business.
But as all the sources note, you don’t have to be a manager at any level or a project manager itself to be ‘doing’ project management. All the persons involved in any specific project should be aware of what the project management process involves. That will enable them to properly play their roles and make each project a success.
According to Balance Careers (above), there are four basic elements of a project. To make a project successful, the designated project manager has to simultaneously manage :
- Scope: The project’s size, goals, and requirements.
- Resources: People, equipment, and materials.
- Time: “This doesn’t just address how much time the project will take overall. The project manager must break down the time into task durations, dependencies, and critical path.”
- Money: Have a firm grasp on costs, contingencies, and profit.
Scope, Resources, Time & Money
The project scope is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish. This includes the budgets of time and money that you need to achieve these objectives. Any change to the scope of the project must have a matching change in budget, time, resources. Profit is the money the company wants to make from the task. You add it on top of the cost.
Resources include three elements – people, equipment, and material.
“A successful project manager must effectively manage the resources assigned to the project, including members of the project team, vendor staff, and subcontractors. He must ensure that his employees have the skills and tools they need to complete the job, and he must continually monitor whether he has enough people in place to complete the project on deadline. His job is to ensure that each person understands the task and project deadlines.”
You need to manage the time for the project properly and it also includes three elements. These are tasks, schedules, and critical paths.
A list of tasks includes all that you need to complete for any specific project. You would need to do some tasks sequentially while others can overlap or be done in tandem. Each task has to have a defined duration. He also has to determine the order in which the tasks have to be completed.
The three considerations in managing money are costs, contingencies, and profit. Each task has a cost. The project manager needs to estimate and total each of these costs when preparing the project budget.
Therefore, the project budget should include a contingency allowance—money set aside in the budget “just in case” the actual cost of an item is wildly different from the estimate. Profit is the money the company wants to make from the task.
Types of project management
All sources point to three types of project management. They are “developed to meet the specific needs of certain industries or types of projects” (Investopedia) These are:
- Waterfall project management – Similar to the traditional project management (as we defined it in the introduction), “but includes the caveat that each task needs to be completed before the next one starts. Steps are linear and progress flows in one direction—like a waterfall. Because of this, attention to task sequences and timelines are very important in this type of project management. Often, the size of the team working on the project will grow as it completes smaller tasks and larger tasks begin.”
- Agile project management initially came into use in the computer software industry. “Agile project management is an iterative process which focuses on the continuous monitoring and improvement of deliverables. At its core, high-quality deliverables are a result of providing customer value, team interactions, and adapting to current business circumstances.”
Agile project management does not follow a sequential stage-by-stage approach. Instead, it completes the phases of the project in parallel to each other by various team members in an organization. This approach can find and rectify errors without having to restart the entire procedure.
- Lean project management. This methodology is all about avoiding waste, both of time and resources. The principles of this methodology were gleaned from Japanese manufacturing practices. The main idea behind them is to create more value for customers with fewer resources.
Of course, sources define other types of project management, but these are the three that project managers most commonly use in their planning and execution.
Roles and responsibilities
TogglPlan makes a list of roles and responsibilities in plan management. They note these common ones:
- Team members: Team members are skilled persons who are responsible for executing the project and producing the deliverable.
- Suppliers: Suppliers are often external teams who sub-contract parts of a project where internal resources or skilled team members are unavailable.
- Project manager: Project managers are responsible for planning, tracking, and controlling the project. In addition, they also lead the team members, manage suppliers, and guide the project towards completion.
- Program manager: Program managers are responsible for a set of related projects. One or more project managers report to a program manager.
- Project sponsor: Project sponsors (or account managers) are senior managers accountable for the project deliverables. They’re answerable to a client and also the single point of contact between the team and the clients.
- Project portfolio manager: Portfolio managers manage projects of one or more clients across the organization.
- Stakeholders: Stakeholders are the people that are directly or indirectly affected by the project. Their inputs and feedback serve to define the project’s deliverables.
- Clients: You finally deliver a project to clients, who, pay for it.
The same source makes a general list of phases of any given project management. According to them, there are four such phases:
- Initiation phase: This starting phase is all about understanding the goals, scope, risks, and priorities of a project.
- Planning phase: In this phase, the project manager identifies project activities and required resources are identified. Also, managers create an estimated timeline required to complete the project.
- Execution phase: Skilled team members come together to turn the project plan into deliverables. Managers track project progress.
- Closure phase: Teams hand over deliverables, analyze project performance.
Going at it alone, or engaging outside forces
As Balance Careers (above) note successful project management takes practice. “If your job or career path includes project management, and if you want to improve your skills, talk to successful project managers, read, and practice.”
But what if you don’t have project management experience, or are not a professional project manager, or have not participated in project management at all? Or, you do not have such a personnel structure to allocate project management to someone within your permanently employed staff?
This can be a sensitive problem because projects come and go. Your business may get to complete a project for another company and business and if you don’t complete it within the set parameters or there is something the client business is not satisfied with. Other projects might not come your way.
As you may be aware, there are professionals project freelancers out there, qualified for specific project tasks, and those include project management. In quite a number of cases, enlisting the services of such freelancers might make the project more successful. At the same time, however, it might also be a more cost-effective solution.
To that effect, BunnyStudio may be the source of the right solution for you. We would be able to provide you with a list of qualified, professional freelancers who can deal with all the aspects of project management. In addition, this also includes potential other members of the team you would need to assemble for any given project.