A Brief History of Project Management
Project management is “The discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria” according to Wikipedia. The very idea of project management has its roots back in the late 19th century. But then, owing to a lot of improvements of the idea, it has developed to provider a wider perspective in the 1950s.
Many credits go to Henry Gantt, who is well known to be one of the creators/developers of project management. The Gantt Chart is a famous project management diagram by him. Henri Fayol’s five management functions laid the groundwork to our present five project management phases. He is thereby considered as another founding father. Private business started adapting project management tools after they were widespread in the public sector, engineering and military sectors. Private businesses clearly understood the benefits of these tools. Project management ability of companies reached a new level altogether, when they realized the importance of communication and co ordination among various business units and areas. These are the things that would ultimately lead to success.
What is a Project?
According to Business Dictionary, a project can be defined as “a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain costs and limitations.” A project could be grasped as something that is taken up apart from the routine office work. It is something adjoining the normal work. There are multiple reasons that give birth to a project. It could be financial requirements, new innovations in the business or even a client request. The main parameters might involve a comprehensible and accurate goal to be reached, a beginning plan, an implementation strategy and a finish line for the achievement of the fixed target. As most projects are meant for a short term, the undertaking needs a neat timeline, a clear scope, a well sorted budget and human capital resources consisting of a project team and a manager.
Who is a Project Manager? What does Project Manager do?
A project manager is the most important member of the project as he leads the entire team and makes sure that there is proper coordination and implementation of the assigned tasks. The main distinction between a manager and a project manager is that the former has a fixed tenure and is allotted tasks and duties for that period while on the other hand; project managers are assigned the post just for the duration of the project. In your resume, it can be added as a skill and not as a position.
Multi-tasking is very important when it comes to project management. Moreover, development of soft skills and meeting deadlines is an essential task too. In order to showcase your special skills and talents, you need to put in your best when you’re elected as a project manager. Companies generally do not retain full-time project managers. However, you never know, you might be the first priority for a huge project. If your team consists of a variety of members including different departments, the project would get multiple versatile inputs, as a result of which the company’s growth may get boosted up. Your credibility also increases when you display exceptional skills as a project manager. If offered any internal or online classes, or if you’re going for any external courses, you might want to brush up on Project Management. To include new ideas and innovations in your project, you have got to know how to frame strategies, scheduling and organization techniques, funding analysis etc. One of the most important things, as mentioned before is however time management. Meeting deadlines and putting in your best within the given time frame is very important for you as a project manager. You might end up inviting a lot of scope for career growth, this way.
How to choose the Best Project Manager ?
Any project would eventually end up having either of the two results, success of failure. We always aim at success. However, it is important to choose the project manager accordingly, where the chances of success are higher. As he is the most vital part of the project, he must possess exceptional soft skills and also technical expertise. Strong thinking skills are also important as it is necessary to anticipate the possible risks in the period of the project. Moreover, an ideal project manager should be able to assess risks and have adequate back up plans. He should be able to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts smoothly and should also be understanding.
Exploration of tools for project management
Project managers are required to be aware of the best management tools as they will be using it on a day-to-day basis. They should be comfortable with the tools and the tools must most certainly result in a good outcome. It should also be related to the project in some manner. It should be of the best assistance in getting done with your project.
The Project Management Process
The process of project management includes the following stages or phases.
Initiation or Definition Phase: This being the first step in the management process, and it consists of the introduction and description mainly. Once you have clearly described and defined your project, you will be receiving your approval. Next, you need to come up with a final draft which includes risk assessment and other specific details.
Planning Phase: The project manager is in charge for framing the best strategy for the team to reach the target. He is responsible for choosing the members of his team and the tools and resources that will be required during the process. Time management and communication skills are essential for this purpose.
Execution Phase: In this phase, the project manager completely devotes his attention to make sure things are going as per the plan. He needs to prepare himself to spend a lot of time, energy and resources in this phase.
Control Phase: Control phase is the stage where control and execution co-exist. The project team is monitored and their activities are overseen by the project manager to ensure that whatever planned is actually being implemented.
Closure Phase: This is the last stage and here, the project manager is supposed to finalize all the tasks taken in hand, reports and documentation also. You can also measure the productivity in this stage. That is, you can cross-check if you have completed all the assigned tasks as per the framed schedule. Most importantly, in this phase, you figure out if you have satisfied the client’s needs and demands.
Apart from these five phases, there are 10 knowledge-based areas which are important according to the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Fifth Edition). All managers need to have a good understanding of these 10 concepts in order to go forward with every unique goal.
Integration: It’s a combination of all 5 project stages where you plan, assess risks and also make the necessary modifications.
Scope: It mainly portrays stakeholder expectations and makes way to better understanding of the project.
Time: Time Management is of utmost importance as it’s the time period that decides how and where to employ resources and make the best of them.
Cost: The project manager needs to closely supervise the budget and direct the resources accordingly.
Quality: The end result must satisfy the client’s needs and demands completely. Only then, your work and effort would be recognized and respected.
Procurement: You might often need an external supporting hand or a talent outside the team. You need to pick such external contacts wisely.
Resources: It’s the project manager’s responsibility to gather a team of best human capital, both from inside and outside the company. You need to also ensure smooth co-operation.
Communications: Communication is all about delivering the message in the most impactful manner, at the right time.
Management: At any point during the progress, there are high chances of hitches in the middle. You must be intuitive enough to assess these risks and have backups for such conditions, right from before.
Management: Stakeholders refer to the units or people involved in your project, externally. You need to know to maintain a healthy relationship with these people and know management approaches to include them in the project outcome.
The burden of effective execution of the project lies on the project manager. In a project, you’ll need to meet a deadline and simultaneously, satisfy the needs of both internal and external clients, while still fitting the activities within the budget. A project manager’s road to success depends on his planning skills and monitoring skills, to sum up.