What a project is and what project management involves?

Project management involves applying skills and tools to meet project requirements. This includes defining scope, planning, executing, and closing the project. It increases success, improves communication, reduces risk, increases efficiency, and leads to better decisions.

According to the PMBok Guide, a project is a temporary undertaking with a defined start and finish time, aimed at creating a unique product, service, or result. In practice, a project involves a set of inter-related activities designed to achieve a common objective.

Project management, on the other hand, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities with the goal of meeting project requirements. It involves integrating all project activities through the project life cycle to deliver a defined product or service within the prescribed constraints of time, budget, scope, and quality.

Management by projects is an organizational approach that uses projects as a means to achieve the company's strategic goals. This approach involves ongoing operations alongside project management.

Projects are different from operations in that they have a temporary organizational structure and goals, are a catalyst for change, and involve a unique product or service. Operations, on the other hand, are an established ongoing structure and goals, involve evolutionary change, and have a standard product or service.

Project management is important because it ensures that projects are delivered on schedule and within budget, improves the quality of deliverables, minimizes exposure to risk, and provides greater productivity and profitability.

The relationship between management disciplines involves general management, technical management, and project management. General management involves managing all aspects of the ongoing operations of the performing organization, while technical management involves managing the technical aspects of a project. Project management, on the other hand, involves managing all aspects of a project in a continuous process to achieve both internal and external project objectives.

History of Project Management

Throughout history, several important milestones have shaped the way we approach project management. In 1914, the Gantt Chart was developed for production scheduling at the Frankford Arsenal. In the 1930s, the US Air Corp's Materiel Division established a project office function to monitor the development and progress of aircraft manufacture. In 1951, Bechtel assigned the responsibilities of a project manager to one person for the Transmountain Oil Pipeline in Canada. The US Navy created a 'Special Projects Office' in 1955 to develop the Fleet Ballistic Missile, Polaris. In 1957, the Special Projects Office developed the Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) to manage hundreds of contractors. In 1958, Civil & Civic in Australia marketed itself as a project manager to external clients, taking full responsibility for the execution of all phases of projects, from inception to completion.

The Critical Path Method (CPM) was developed in 1959 by the Integrated Engineering Control Group and a group at Remington Rand Univac, which cut turnaround times by 25%. The same year, Harvard Business Review recognized project management as a distinctive management discipline. In 1964, the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) was developed by Stanford University's Civil Engineering Department on behalf of the US Bureau of Yards and Docks. In the 1970s, project management systems were adopted outside of construction and defense, and environmental issues were addressed as part of project delivery. Organizations recognized the importance of effective upfront planning for the successful delivery of projects, leading to the establishment of the first professional bodies for project management, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the USA and the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM).

The 1980s saw the introduction of the Time, Cost & Quality equation, increased focus on 'green issues' as a project focus, the proliferation of personal computers, and the introduction of ethics, standards, and accreditation. In the 1990s, 'Management by Projects' and Total Quality Management (TQM) were introduced. The 2000s saw an increased emphasis on risk management and the development of Project Management Maturity Models.

If you're interested in learning more about project management, we recommend reading "Fundamentals of Project Management" by Rory Burke, specifically Chapter 2.

Project Manager Roles & Skills

Absolutely! A Project Manager is an expert in the field of Project Management, whose primary responsibility is to oversee the successful execution of a project. This entails identifying the project's goals, establishing a timeline, determining the necessary resources, and monitoring the project's progress to ensure timely and efficient completion.

The Project Manager performs a variety of critical roles, including those of a strategist, negotiator, organizer, leader, mentor, motivator, controller, and diplomat. They must have a thorough understanding of the project's technical requirements, as well as excellent human and conceptual skills to effectively communicate with stakeholders, manage teams, and comprehend the project's broader context.

In addition to these responsibilities, Project Managers must remain vigilant to ensure risks are identified and mitigated, and that all parties involved are informed and updated on the project's progress. Overall, a Project Manager plays a vital role in ensuring the success of any project, and their expertise is essential to the smooth and efficient completion of any endeavor.

What are the Key Skills Required for project manager?

To be an effective Project Manager, one must possess a wide range of skills. These skills include Technical skills, which involve knowledge of the tools and technologies required for the project. Technical awareness is also essential, as the project manager should be aware of the latest trends and developments in the field. Budgeting skills are also crucial, as the project manager should be able to manage the finances of the project effectively.

Time estimation skills are necessary for the Project Manager to ensure that the project is completed on time. People skills are also vital, as the project manager should be able to work well with others and lead the team effectively. The Project Manager should have strong leadership skills, which involve inspiring and motivating the team members, setting clear goals and expectations, and ensuring that they are met.

Management skills are also essential, as the Project Manager should be able to manage the project's resources and ensure that they are used efficiently. Good listening and communication skills are necessary to ensure that the team members understand the project's goals and objectives. Negotiation skills are also crucial, as the Project Manager will have to negotiate with stakeholders and vendors to achieve the project's goals.

Conflict management skills are necessary to manage conflicts that may arise during the project's execution. Personal time management skills are also essential, as the Project Manager should be able to manage their time effectively to meet project deadlines. Team building skills are also necessary to ensure that the team members work well together.

Conceptual skills involve the ability to think creatively and strategically. Organizational skills are crucial to manage the project's resources and ensure that they are used efficiently. Planning skills are also essential to plan and execute the project effectively. Problem-solving skills are necessary to overcome any challenges that may arise during the project's execution. Analytical skills are also crucial to analyze data and make informed decisions. Decision-making skills are necessary to make critical decisions that impact the project's success.

Profile of the Project Manager

The Project Manager's profile includes utilizing tools, methods, knowledge, skills, and qualities required to succeed in managing a project. They possess not only basic business and management skills, but also team and people skills, and display exceptional leadership qualities. With their integrative skills and experience, they ensure project success and inspire their team to achieve great things.

Project Manager Maturity Levels

On a maturity scale, a Project Manager can be categorized into one of five levels. They are as follows:

Level 1: Technical Manager

This level includes individuals with qualifications and experience in a technical discipline. They have a basic understanding of project management principles and use some project management tools on an ad-hoc basis.

Level 2: Project Management Awareness

At this level, the Project Manager has received some basic training in project management and has a general knowledge of project management terminology. They acknowledge the need for common processes and use core project management tools regularly.

Level 3: Project Focused Project Manager

A Project Manager at this level has undergone formal studies in project management and recognizes the need to proactively manage. They adopt common templates and processes.

Level 4: Integrated Project Manager

A Project Manager at this level has formal qualifications or an award in project management. They consistently use a common methodology and proactively manage all aspects of the project. They apply general management skills to both internal and external project environments.

Level 5: Continuous Improvement

At this level, the Project Manager acts as a mentor or coach to the project team. They regularly participate in professional development activities and actively contribute to the organization's continuous improvement process.

In a project, there are different roles and responsibilities that individuals can take on. These include:

Program Manager: This person is responsible for overseeing the project and any other projects that may be happening at the same time. They may also act as the Project Sponsor or Project Champion.

Project Sponsor: This role is the lowest level in the organization that has the authority to start and stop a project. They provide the funding and resources for the project, authorize or reject scope changes, and are the first point of escalation.

Line/Functional Manager: This person supports the project staff and may facilitate the provision of budget and resources. They are not necessarily the Project Sponsor.

Project Team Members: These individuals contribute specific skills to support the project delivery. They often provide technical input and are governed by the leadership structure administered by the Project Manager.

Operations Staff: This group supports the Project Manager through administrative assistance as required. They perform an ongoing role across multiple projects and may provide support in areas such as accounting, human resources management, general administration, and IT support.

In order to achieve success, project managers must have the ability to oversee all aspects of project management, including planning, organization, and execution. Additionally, they must possess the skills to manage potential risks and changes that may arise during the project timeline.

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