July 31, 2010

What is Project Management ?

Project Management main phases

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. It is often closely related to and sometimes conflated with program management.

A project is a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end (usually constrained by date, but can be by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet particular goals and objectives, usually to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent functional work to produce products or services. In practice, the management of these two systems is often found to be quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and the adoption of separate management.

The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals and objectives while honoring the preconceived project constraints. Typical constraints are scope, time and budget. The secondary—and more ambitious—challenge is to optimize the allocation and integration of inputs necessary to meet pre-defined objectives.

The traditional approach


A traditional phased approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. In the "traditional approach", we can distinguish 5 components of a project (4 stages plus control) in the development of a project:

  • Project initiation stage;

  • Project planning or design stage;

  • Project execution or production stage;

  • Project monitoring and controlling systems;

  • Project completion stage.

Not all the projects will visit every stage as projects can be terminated before they reach completion. Some projects don't have planning and/or monitoring stages. Some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.

Many industries use variations on these stages. For example, in bricks and mortar architectural design, projects typically progress through stages like Pre-Planning, Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Drawings (or Contract Documents), and Construction Administration. In software development, this approach is often known as the waterfall model, i.e., one series of tasks after another in linear sequence. In software development many organizations have adapted the Rational Unified Process (RUP) to fit this methodology, although RUP does not require or explicitly recommend this practice. Waterfall development can work for small tightly defined projects, but for larger projects of undefined or unknowable scope, it is less suited. The Cone of Uncertainty explains some of this as the planning made on the initial phase of the project suffers from a high degree of uncertainty. This becomes especially true as software development is often the realization of a new or novel product, this method has been widely accepted as ineffective for software projects where requirements are largely unknowable up front and susceptible to change. While the names may differ from industry to industry, the actual stages typically follow common steps to problem solving — "defining the problem, weighing options, choosing a path, implementation and evaluation."


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Tomboy

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