To understand what is Project Management it is important to first understand what exactly constitutes a project. A project is nothing but a temporary effort undertaken by single person or a group of people to achieve certain specific objectives and usually it has a fixed start and a fixed end. All projects are usually constrained by one or several factors such as budget, resources, people, bandwidth, time etc.
Outcome of a project is usually a product or a service or achievement of certain objective with was set out at the beginning. A project is usually different from business as usual operations which includes doing things or functional activities which are repetitive, permanent or semi permanent in nature.
Due to such a nuanced nature of projects, project management requires a shift in how to get things done when compared to business as usual operations.
So project management is nothing but planning, executing, initiating and controlling the work of a team to achieve the goals under the constraints of the project. Project management mostly has four different types of different constraints which are scope, time, quality and budget.
Project management is a complex and ever and has different processes at different phases of the project. These are:
this is the part of project management where the project begins to take life and and the need of project is realised and team begin to rally around it.
this page of project management involves careful detailed and intricate planning for the project management. It includes articulating and specifying different parameters of the project such as the cost estimate of the project, scheduled timeline, resource planning activities involved etc.
this is the phase of the project where the rubber hits the road and the actual work gets done. This requires close collaboration among the team to maintain a certain threshold productivity.
this phase of project management involves analysing different metrics coming out from Project Management and observing changes and adjusting the process accordingly. This phase is important to understand if the project is on the right track or not.
this is the phase where all the relevant information points are taken into consideration and the end outcome of the project is validated with the initial set objective to define if the project was a success or not.
All of these different processes which are involved in project management don't necessarily follow a chronological order and might actually overlap Each Other across the life cycle of the project. The reason for such an interdependence of these processes is because the input of one process results in the output of the other and vice versa. For example to start with effective execution planning process needs to be completed, and planning is not a one time task but it is a process which continues throughout the lifetime of the project as a new information points and data points keep surfacing.
Project management has been an important cornerstone of human history. All the great things that you look around in the world have involved project management in one way or the other. Build the pyramids of Egypt, development of World Wide Web, architectural marvels such as Sydney Opera House etc are examples of successfully completed projects which involved serious amount of project management.
The process of project management can be of different types such as the phased approach, lean project management, iterative and incremental project management, process based management, benefits realisation management, earned value management etc.
this approach of project management takes its cues and principles from the Lean manufacturing process and focuses on delivering high amount of value with less wastage, higher productivity and reduce time. Kanban and scrum a great examples of lean project management
this approach of project management is similar to lean project management and it focuses on iterative and incremental approach towards solving the challenges which are posed by a complex project which has high degree of uncertainty. Dynamic systems management, extreme project management and innovation engineering are some examples of iterative and incremental project management.
this type of project management approach requires building out strong processes which help in producing results in an consistent and predictable manner to achieve the and objectives of the organisation.
benefits realisation management or BRM focuses on the outcomes of the project instead of the inputs . This is done to reduce the amount of risk in a project and to determine if the project is a success or failure and skew it towards the success by focussing on the end results or the benefits.
earned value management or EVM looks at the typical project management techniques through a work and value analysis lens.
Despite all the benefits of project management and all the science which goes into project management lot of projects don't end up delivering the value which was initially conceptualised or they simply fail. So what are some of the common reasons why projects fail.
this is one of the most important reason why projects fail. one of the common things that all the project managers talk about of their previous project failures is the lack of resources provided to them by the upper Management which resulted in the failure of project.
another important reason which leads to project Failure is scope creep or changing requirements. Therefore it is very important to have a clearly laid out objective and project scope in the project planning phase itself and get it agreed upon by all the stakeholders.
even if you have the best resources, planning, team but if the team of the project fails to execute properly then there is no way that project can turn out to be success. There are different reasons why teams failed to execute on projects such as in experience and non certified project managers lack of skills among the team lack of collaboration or aligned incentives leading to a drag on the motivation.
lot of projects end up in the graveyard of project failures because the project planning teams failed to keep a good buffer in the project deadlines. These unrealistic team timelines lead to team burnout and lack of interest from the top management.
So you must have realise that project management is a part science and part art, and requires meticulous attention to detail. Having a rigorous framework of project management, team and tools and sticking to it is the key for ultimate project management success. Of course there will be road blocks and unanticipated challenges in the project, but what will differentiate teams who will end up completing the project successfully within the constraints and team who will fail to do so, is the can do attitude and right process.