Project management is one of the most important and critical tool or technique, which defines the entire course of development of any kind of project. Project management works as an ignition for the chain reaction of the whole development cycle. It also helps to layout each and every step of the development cycle and defines the action plan to be followed during the risk-conditions. Not only this, project management methodologies help track down the success rate for a project and improve the understandability of the workforce. Conventionally, any project management approach revolves around the 5 basic processes involved in project management, named as: • Initiation: This step determines the nature and scope of the project. All the basic elements of the project like requirements analysis and feasibility, review of current operations, goals are determined. It is the most crucial stage and if performed incorrectly, results in the failure of the whole project.
• Planning & design: This stage basically helps to plan time, cost, and resource during the course of the development. Risk planning is also performed to effectively tackle uncertainties. • Executing consists of the activities used in the process to work in sync with the project plan so as to meet the deadlines of different milestones. • Monitoring & control: These processes verify and validate the activities and their sequence and timelines with the project plan. The quality of activities is also considered here.
• Closing includes the formal acceptance of the product so developed. Administrative and other formal activities are performed to release the product to the end-user or client after thorough testing. Different project management approaches are designed for easily carrying out the different process in a planned way for accomplishing all the requirements. Each approach have key feature of its own which keeps the activities in sync with the project plan. Some project management approaches are: • The traditional approach: This approach is the most basic approach in project management. It is quite similar to the waterfall model in software development services. All the five processes are executed in sequence, with the extension of recursive-ness of a few processes to support the development cycle.
• PRINCE2: It is a structured approach for project management introduced in 1996. It posses the key feature of automatic control of any deviation observed against the project plan. Each specified process in this approach, has its key input and output with the associated activities to be performed and specified goals of those activities. Processes are divided into manageable stages and close monitoring of each stage results in an organized and controlled rolling out of activities. • Lean Project-management: This approach to project management is based on the concept of lean-manufacturing. Lean-manufacturing is centered on the elimination of wastage in order to minimize the cost of production and hence improving the quality of the product.
• Event Chain methodology: It has a key feature of identifying and managing events and event chains which affects the schedule of the projects. This approach helps in handling the negative impact & allows the modeling of uncertainties in project schedule. However, it is not necessary that all the project management methodologies work well. In the dynamic industry environment, the basic aim of any project management strategy is to accomplish a task. However, it should be within the allocated budget and time while maintaining the quality of the final product. Project management approaches enable organisations to accomplish projects efficiently, addressing both internal constraints and dynamic external situations in the interim.
Project management enables organisations to prevent or remove internal project constraints and also adapt to unforeseen changes in project scope or goals. An organisation can, depending on its requirements, either adopt a standard project management approach or combine multiple approaches. Additionally, an organisation has the advantage of project management software applications which facilitates intelligent planning, constraint removal and monitoring of projects.
Here is a list of standard project management approaches.
The traditional approach assumes that the project scope and goals will remain constant till project completion. Obviously, a project manager plans and identifies project resources based on this assumption. The traditional approach lays down the following project phases:
• Project initiation
• Project planning and design
• Project monitoring and control
• Project execution
• Project completion
Since the approach is inherently rigid, many organisations may choose a hybrid project management approach.
Critical chain approach
The approach assumes that at least one constraint (behavioural or process-related) is likely to hinder projects which utilise complex processes and a large number of cross-functional teams. The approach recommends the use of behavioural and mathematical sciences to first predict, and then analyse and remove constraints. The project team can use data to remove the constraints. For example, if productivity is a foreseen concern, then a project manager could track the actual time spent by team members on the job. This approach is useful in sending quality deliverables on time by proactively removing constraints.
Extreme project approach
This approach is suitable for projects which handle dynamic situations, such as, changing customer requirements. Often, it may not be possible to obtain a full clarity of requirements and a project may purely be guided by market changes. The mobile phone industry, which experiences rapid changes, is a case in point. The project team, hence, plans purely on the basis of the currently available data and depending on requirement changes, modifies plans.
Event chain project approach
According to this approach, a single constraint can create a chain of constraints and severely impede a project. For example, in a project, if several departments depend on one another, then constraints in any one department can negatively impact the productivity of downstream departments. A project team can use past data to foresee a negative event and identify preventive measures. Reliable data, collected over time, can even help track event chains. The Gantt chart is a popular event chain tracking tool. The event chain approach, hence, could be an excellent problem solving approach for critical projects.
Project management software — how useful is it?
Project management software capabilities have expanded notably and it gives more than just scheduling meetings and activities. A project management tool can estimate the effort, monitor project progress and highlight risks. It can also preserve historical data on past projects, which can be extremely useful in foreseeing constraints. Project management tools are available as desktop, web-based and collaborative applications and they are compatible for every type of project management approach.
Many organisations have begun to adopt a hybrid project management approach, by combining the best features of standard project management approaches. This approach has been beneficial and indeed goes to show how flexible the project management approaches are.
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