Whether or not a manager holds the official title of ‘project manager’, the chances they will be required at some point to lead a project of some sort at some time.
From initiating a procedural change in their department to managing a product launch or implementing a new IT system, projects come in all shapes and sizes. The larger the project the greater its complexity and the more scope there is for the project to overrun and exceed its budget. It does not have to be like this because the fundamentals of managing a project from start to finish are usually very similar.
What is a Project?
Project management is the way of managing change. Everything from the Olympics to organising a wedding can be considered a project. The term ‘project’ describes the activities that meet specific objectives and can be used to introduce or improve new or existing products and services.
“Once learned the knowledge and skills of project management can be applied again and again making any initial investment in training a great return on investment (ROI),” said Exponential’s Managing Director, John Moore.
He added, “All projects have two key features: uniqueness and transience. Firstly, projects are separate to business-as-usual activities, requiring people to come together temporarily to focus on specific project objectives. As a result, effective teamwork is central to successful projects. Secondly, all projects have a specific start and end point and are set up to meet specific objectives, to create a specified result, product or service.”
Understanding Project Scope
Projects need to be controlled to meet their objectives and deliver benefits. Objectives are defined in terms of expectations of time, cost and quality. The relationship between the three is critical as often they can ‘pull’ against each other. For instance, time, cost and quality are called objectives or constraints. For example:
- The project must be completed by March 2013 (time)
- The project must not spend more than €350K (cost)
- The project should set up a new lean manufacturing production line capable of 24/7 production (quality)
To achieve the three objectives, all the work has to be undertaken on time, on budget and in-line with the quality objectives: this is the project’s scope. The scope may change over time, and it is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure the project will still deliver its defined benefits. Effective project managers are able to focus and manage the relative priorities of time, cost and quality.
What is Project Management?
Project management focuses on controlling the introduction of the desired change and outcome. It involves:
- Understanding the needs of stakeholders
- Planning what needs to be done, when, by whom, and to what standards
- Building and motivating the team
- Coordinating the work of different people
- Monitoring work being done
- Managing any changes to the plan
- Delivering successful results
To review how effective you are as a project manager, take the five minute challenge and complete the Project Manager Assessment Quiz.
This short quiz helps you determine how well you perform in the eight key areas that are important to a successful project. The quiz is aimed at people who manage projects of a significant size, but who are not full-time project managers. However, everyone can use their answers to make sure they’re applying best practices.