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project management universe - project management guide

Fundamental Constituent of The Project Management Universe

Fundamental Elements of The Project Management


Even a school going kids are talking about projects. Are these projects you are talking about? Yes and No. Before we seek an answer this question, let’s go back to the basic definition of projects. Project is a temporary endeavour to deliver product, service or combination of both. Put it differently, project is set of interrelated tasks planned and executed over a fixed period of time to deliver defined outcome within the constraint of time and cost to meet stakeholder’s goal(s)

The set of activities done by students in school or colleges in the manner described above are projects. Except they are amateurish in nature. In reality, the projects delivered in infrastructure, software, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, etc domain are pretty complex in nature and complexity of such projects go beyond set of tasks and timeline.

Of course, these projects are temporary and not perpetual (or routine) in nature, hence they have a well defined start and end date/time and that’s the reason they need to have a well defined scope, allocation of budget and resources.

Project Management

That’s where the expertise and the experience matter the most. The experience and skill to plan, deliver expected results on time, within budget is crucial for businesses. And that’s how project management universe has evolved: it is about applying your knowledge, using your skills, tools and techniques, setting up and conforming to process so that projects can be delivered predictably.

Project Management Process Groups

As project management as a profession emerged to help business set processes of planning tracking, etc, professionals around the world felt the need to formalise it. Project Management Institute (PMI) is one such popular institution that has outlined project management guide through PMBOK ® Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge). Project managers all over the world refers to this guide. PMBOK has identified common patterns, best practices and formalised project management process into five groups.

These project management process groups are

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

Project Management Knowledge Areas

On the other hand, it has also categorised project management into ten knowledge areas such as

Project Time Management

Gantt Chart - Project Management

Each project has a timeline to follow; the timeline could be agreed formally or informally but it is there. While there are different approaches to estimate the time it will take to complete and deliver project, some team members tends to overestimate whereas some tends to underestimate time to deliver their tasks. In reality, during project execution as surprises kick in (incidents, risks, changes), project may get delayed further.

Such are project elements and that’s exactly why organizations need project management knowledge area – Time Management to streamline its project schedule. It guides how to apply pragmatic estimation techniques, how to manage incidents and risks proactively, how to handle change requests, how to identify and allocate resources to delivery project. Essentially you will have a well thought plan to estimate it right, deliver it on time and also handle surprises well.

Project Scope Management

All project managers are worried about scope creep or gold platting in their projects. Just look back and count all those projects where you kicked-off the project and seen unplanned changes creeping in. I am sure, you will have almost all the projects counted. And do you remember how these unplanned changes, led to slip the delivery timeline and you struggled to justify the delay? So accept it or not, project scope creep or gold platting is reality of projects. Once you accept it as a reality, you can formalize the process to define what is in scope, what is not and whether to accept a new change or not.

As PMO along with project manager and other stakeholders work through the scope process group to formalize scope management plan to define, validate and control project scope. Having a well define process will save greatly everyone including project manager, project team, project sponsor, to know exactly what is included, what is not included in project scope and what is the process to request change, and whether/how it will be included, and if included how it will impact the project cost, timeline and approval/communication plan for the scope change.

Project Cost Management

Whether you are a for profit entity or not-for-profit entity, every project has resource constraint. Primary resource constraint a project has is project budget. Project manager is expected to deliver a project either within the allocated budget or at least with the cost which will justify project’s ROI. To pen down the RoI, one must be able to define cost of delivering project. Project budget, project cost estiamte, project actual cost, project billing are aspects of project financial cost management. And you will notice that, even budget is not, one time activity. One has to constantly monitor and keep track of project estimated cost, actual cost, billing and of course, project budget. Hence a well defined, and good understanding of project cost management as a knowledge area will given your project team tools and techniques to manage project financials better.

Project Quality Management

No stakeholders including project team would deliberately want to deliver sub-standard project outcome. At the same time, project sponsors and customers can not expect 100% perfect outcome, simply because to deliver 100% perfect outcome project has to heavily deploy resources and spend huge time to verify the quality and correct lapses. It is pragmatic to know what is reasonable quality and agree with the team for the quality control process. If there are instances of compromised quality delivery, project stakeholders can use quality control process to change the course of project, invest resources and time to take the project/product quality to desired level.

Project Manager

Project Manager Driving Project : Multitasking

Project manager is indispensable element of project management. If project delivery is like delivering good through railway, which has all elements like railway track, signals, rail engine, bougeys and so on; then project manager is the guy who drives the railway engine; or the engine itself. Project manager is the main driver of the endeavour called project.

Project manager is identified with a project charter, he is responsible for project scope, project plan, project resources, project cost, project issues, project risks, project changes, project closure and ultimately the whole project delivery.

In the subsequent part of the post, we will touch upon project manager as a principle element of project management universe and its crucial role in holding everything together.

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I am a co-founder of Zilicus Solution and I write about project management, collaboration, productivity, project management software, cloud computing, requirement management and business empowerment.