Organizational leaders are facing complex challenges through a rapid rate of change in both the technology and government which has then created pressure in new and existing organizations. As a result, the traditional structure for managing is giving way to a new form of management (Kerzner, 2003). This form is project management. How can this be? Projects have been around since the building of the pyramids (Dobson, 2003).
In 2650 B.C., the step pyramid was built by Imhotep for the pharaoh Zoser in Egypt. The building of Stonehenge occurred about 150 years later. In another 2,500 years, the Mayans began building pyramids throughout Central America. These were the very first projects in history. The builders of these structures used simple tools and did not have paper or software programs (Lewis, 1995).
The beginning of project management as a discipline began in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States but was not generally accepted until today. The purpose of this initial lecture is to help you in:
2.Developing an understanding of project management.
3.Recognizing the project management process.
This lecture will support these objectives by providing you with definitions, examples and descriptions of projects and project management. Additionally, the lecture will conclude with a brief description of the project management process.
ProjectsIn business today, there are many types of projects with endless possibilities. A project can be:Developing a new product or service.
Implementing a new business process.
Developing a marketing plan.
Completing an assignment.
According to Lewis (1995:2) a project is: a one-time job that has definite starting and ending points, clearly defined objectives, scope and (usually) a budget. The key words in this definition are underlined to aid you in differentiating between a project and a repetitive process or operation such as order processing or production. Operations and projects share characteristics. They are both:Performed by people.
Constrained by limited resources.
Planned, executed and controlled (PMI, 2000:4-5).
However, a project can be differentiating from an operation by its distinctive characteristics. As the Project Management Institute (2000: 4-5) explains: a project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product or service. In this definition, temporary refers to the definite beginning and end while unique refer to the difference of the project from others. For seemingly repetitive actives like building houses from the same blueprint that are always unique features and problems. For example, the climate may vary or there could be special restrictions for zoning.
Another view of a project is provided by (Kerzner, 2000:2) as a series of tasks that:Have a specified objective to be completed within certain specifications.
Have a defined start and finish.
Consume human and nonhuman resources (such as money, time, expertise, equipment).
Are multifunctional (they cut across functional lines such as marketing, design, development, production and so forth).
Project ReviewA project is a one-time job. This is:Temporary.
With a clear start & finish.
Consuming resources (human and nonhuman)Budgeted, if appropriate.
Multifunctional (cuts across different functions).
A quality expert, Dr. J.M. Juran, defines a project as a problem scheduled for solution. From this perspective, a project is conducted to solve a problem for an organization. The problem(s) are solved by project work teams and the project manager (Lewis, 1995).
Project ManagementThe best way to learn about project management is to understand what it is not. Project Management is not software and it is not just scheduling (Lewis, 1995). Project management has two aspects (Heerkins, 2002: 6):The art leading people on a project.
The science defining and coordinating the work to be done.
According to Lewis (1995:4-5), project management is the: planning, scheduling, controlling of project activates to achieve performance, cost, and time objectives for a given scope of work using resources efficiently and effectively. As a project manager you will always manage competing demands for people, money and time to meet specified project goals and requirements. Sound tough? It can be. It can also be challenging and help you to develop your management skills. There are both Pros and Cons of being a project manager (Heerkins, 2002: 3).
ProsIt can be a steeping stone to promotion.
It provides a strong sense of accomplishment.
Theres variety: no two days are alike.
Theres significant freedom of choice.
It affords the opportunity to effect change across the organization.
ConsIt requires significant tolerance for politics.
It requires significant tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.
Theres a lot of responsibility, but little or no affordability.
You may feel disconnected from your technical discipline and prior work experiences.
You may be perceived as not having a real job.The advantages and disadvantages of project management as outlined by Kerzner ( 2003:3) are:Potential BenefitsIdentification of functional responsibilities to ensure all activities is accounted for in the project.
Measurement of accomplishment against tasks.
Improved capability for future planning.
Identification of:oTime limits.
oMethodologyPotential BarriersProject complexity.
Special requirements and changes per customer.
Changes in technology.
Project management calls for the creation of a small organizational structure the project team. This team is often multifunctional and is representative of the larger organization (Heerkins, 2000). For example, the project team may consist of a data analyst from research, a customer service representative, a person from finance and so forth. Also, as the learning team is your partners in learning, the project team will be your partners throughout the project management process. This process involves:Defining the goal of a project.
Determining the results you expect from your project.
Working within a budget.
Setting-up a schedule.
Selecting your teams and establishing roles.
Making sure tools and technology are in place.
Monitoring on-going process.
Maintaining team morale.
Dealing with problems that may arise.
Keeping stakeholders (such as customers, clients, and executives) informed of your progress.
Brining the project to a conclusion.
Accessing what went right and what went wrong (Mintzer, 2002:5-8).
It is important to note that these activities within this process are iterative in nature because there will be progressive elaboration on each activity throughout the life cycle of the project. As the Project Management Institute describes, project management is the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements (2000:6). In summary, project management is an emerging profession that is both art and science which follows processes to bring about the successful completion of a project.
Project Management ReviewProject Management depends on a project team that is:Cross-functional and diverse in experience and expertise.
Representative of the larger organization.
Motivated to bring the project to a conclusion.
Project Management is:An art and a science.
The planning, scheduling and controlling project activities.
The measurement of accomplishment against goals and requirements.
An emerging profession with the goal to bring projects to completion on time and within the budget.
SummaryThis lecture has covered both projects and project management. It will give you a basis for understanding the complexities, challenges and opportunities of the project management process. This lecture was developed to help you in: 1) recognizing projects, 2) developing an understanding of project management 3) and recognizing the project management process.
Dobson, M.S. (2003). Streetwise Project Management, How to Manage People. Processes and Time to Achieve the Results You Need. Avon, MA.: Adams Media Corporation.
Heerkens, G.R. (2002). Project Management, a Briefcase Book. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kerzner, H. (2003). Project Management, A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. 8th Ed. New York: Wiley.
Lewis, J.P. (1995). Project Planning, Scheduling, and Control, A Hands-On Guide to Bringing Projects in on Time and on Budget, Chicago: Irwin Professional Publishing.
Project Management Institute (2000). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PPMBOK Guide. An American National Standard, ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000. Newton Square, PA.: PMI.
Mintzer, R. (2002).The Everything Project Management Book, Tackle any Project with Confidence and Get it Done on Time. Avon, MA.: Adams Media Corporation.