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Project Management

Project Management

Project ManagementWhen you want to create something big, new, and complex, how do you keep all your tasks, time, and resources under control? The answer is Project Management.

We’ll never have the documentary evidence to prove it, but my assertion is that the discipline of Project Management goes back thousands of years. But even today, practice is evolving. In a world that is changing faster than ever, Project Management is a profession and a toolset that is becoming ever more valuable.

Why question?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world’s largest professional body for project managers. It has more members, and its standards are more widely recognised than any of the other national or transnational organisations, like the UK’s Association for Project management (APM). Their research shows a rising need for project management. Their 2017 report, ‘Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027’ forecasts a global demand for 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles. That’s around the population of Germany!

What is Project Management?

‘Project Management makes change happen in an organised way.

It is the set of skills, methodologies, tools, processes and attitudes that effectively deliver a project.’

Which instantly begs the question…

What is a Project?

‘A project is a co-ordinated set of tasks, which together create a new product, service, or process, within a constrained time and resource budget.’

The Tools and Processes of Project Management

Project management consists of a set of processes, tools and methodologies that need to answer three questions:

1. What are we trying to do?

Some of the key tools and processes we use here are:

  • Defining our project – determining the goal, objectives and scope
  • Listing deliverables, or products… the outputs from our project
  • Creating our specifications
  • Setting quality standards

2. Why are we doing it?

Some of the key tools and processes we use here are:

  • Investment appraisal – a financial evaluation of the costs and benefits
  • Business case – a full appraisal of costs and benefits, including the investment appraisal

3. How will we do it?
…and when, where, with whom, and what if…?

Some of the key tools and processes we use here are:

  • Project program – the schedule of what we will be doing and when
  • Resource plans
  • Procurement plan
  • Budget
  • Benefits delivery plan
  • Stakeholder engagement plan

These are all plans. The other things you’ll need are project controls. These are the processes that keep us on plan, and help us revert to plan if things go wrong. They also ensure good governance. They include:

  • Risk Management
  • Reporting
  • Supplier management
  • Change control
  • Version control
  • Stage gate reviews

How to Manage a Project

In simple terms, a project consists of four principal stages, and is managed in eight steps. The Four stages are illustrated below.

Project Management - Project Lifecycle

Clearly, some projects split some of these stages up, and different terminology appears in different organisations.

The eight steps in basic project management are:

Step 1: What do you want?
Defining your project, setting your goal, objectives, and outline scope.

Step 2: Does it stack up?
Determining the business case that will justify (or not) your project.

Step 3: Who cares?
Stakeholder engagement to ensure that all stakeholders contribute and can align around your plans.

Step 4: How will you get what you want?
Creating a project plan and setting up the management and control processes you’ll need.

Step 5: Who will help?
Engaging and leading the team of people you will need, to help you. This also includes creating the decision-making and oversight processes that good governance demands.

Step 6: What if it goes wrong?
Thinking about risk and establishing a robust risk management process.

Step 7: How is it going?
Monitoring and controlling your project to keep it on track, and create a transparent record of your actions.

Step 8: How did it go?
Closing the project down in an orderly way, learning lessons, and giving feedback to those who participated.

These steps come from my book, ‘How to Manage a Great Project’ (US|UK).

What is Your experience of Project Management?

We’d love to hear your experiences of project management, your ideas, and your questions. Please leave them in the comments below, and we’ll look forward to responding.

To learn more…

The Project Management Pocketbook is a step-by-step guide to managing a project through to completion. It looks at each key stage and identifies the management techniques that can be applied. From objective-setting through to implementation, the book stresses the importance of good communication, teamworking and influencing skills.

You might also like our Big Ideas articles on PRINCE2, and Kanban, which are widely used project management methodologies.

And project management featured strongly in our Management Thinkers and Doers series:


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2 thoughts on “Project Management

  1. thank you Mike Clayton

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