~ By Duncan Haughey
Project management in the modern sense began in the early 1950s, although it has its roots further back in the latter years of the 19th century. The driver for project management was businesses realising the benefits of organising work around projects and the critical need to communicate and co-ordinate work across departments and professions.
Many organisations don't employ full-time project managers and it is common to pull together a project team to meet a particular need. While many people may not have academic skills in a project methodology, taking a role in a project team is an excellent learning opportunity and can improve a person's career profile.
Here is a simple definition of what project management is:
Often, a triangle is used to summarise project management (see Figure 1). The three most important factors are time, cost and scope, commonly called the triple constraint. These form the vertices with quality as a central theme.
More recently, the project management triangle has given way to a project management diamond, with cost, time, scope and quality the four vertices and customer expectations as a central theme (see Figure 2). No two customer expectations are the same so you must ask what their expectations are.
A project goes through six phases during its life:
The role of the project manager is one of great responsibility. It is the project manager's job to direct, supervise and control the project from beginning to end. Project managers should not carry out project work, managing the project is enough. Here are some of the activities undertaken by a project manager:
A project manager must have a range of competencies including:
Project managers bear ultimate responsibility for making things happen. Traditionally, they have carried out this role as mere implementers. To do their jobs they needed to have the necessary administrative and technical competencies. Today they play a far broader role. In addition to the traditional skills, they need to have business skills, customer relations skills, and political skills. Psychologically, they must be results-oriented self-starters with a high tolerance for ambiguity because little is clear-cut in today's tumultuous business environment. Shortcomings in any of these areas can lead to project failure.J. Davidson Frame
Many things can go wrong in project management. These things are often called barriers. Here are some possible barriers:
A good project management discipline will not eliminate all risks, issues and surprises, but will provide standard processes and procedures to deal with them and help prevent the following:
Project management is about creating an environment and conditions in which to achieve a particular goal or objective, in a controlled manner with a team of people.
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