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Identify project management processes

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Identify project management processes

Reading: Identify project management processes

    Identify project management

    processes

    Inside this reading:

    What is a project? 2

    Levels of projects 2

    What is a stakeholder? 3

    Milestones and deliverables 4

    What is project management? 5

    General management skills 5

    What makes a good project manager? 6

    What are project goals and objectives? 7

    Project goals 7

    Project objectives 7

    Developing project objectives 9

    Prioritising objectives 10

    Project team objectives 11

    Project and organisational objectives 13

    The project charter 14

    The project life cycle 16

    Generic project activities 16

    Project administration 17

    Project phases 18

    Activities during project phases 18

    Summary 21

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    Reading: Identify project management processes

    What is a project?

    A project is a sequence of activities that is intended to achieve a unique purpose. Projects are different from ordinary daily work activities. Most projects are done only once.

    For example, a network administrator would take daily, weekly and monthly backups of the company’s systems and important files on the servers. This would be ordinary work, as part of basic job requirements. However, if the head of the sales department requested that the network administrator design, test and implement an automatic backup system for all sales staff, then that would be a project.

    Five features that differentiate projects from ordinary work are that they:

    ; have defined beginning and end dates

    ; have a unique purpose with specific objectives that meet the client

    goal and requirements within specified quality and performance

    criteria

    ; use resources, such as money, time, people and equipment that have

    been allocated to the project

    ; usually follow a planned structured approach to meet their objectives

    ; have a primary sponsor or stakeholder that provides direction and

    funding.

    Levels of projects

    Projects can range from simple ones easily handled by one person using a project management approach, to large and complex projects requiring many resources and the specialised skills of a dedicated project manager. As projects become more complex and involve more resources, they require a project manager and a project team. The project manager in this case is dedicated to the project and manages all of the project tasks. They are accountable for the achievement of the project objectives, to make sure that the project is delivered on time and within budget. They are also responsible for the planning and control techniques. This can involve the integration and management of a large number of people and resources across different business departments and even outside of the organisation, when managing suppliers and contractors.

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    What is a stakeholder?

    Stakeholders are all of the people involved in or affected by project activities. Common stakeholders include clients, managers, project teams, support staff, the project sponsor, suppliers and contractors. Their needs and expectations are important throughout the life of the project. The most important stakeholder is the project sponsor. This is the person or department that initiated the project and in most cases provides the funding for the work. The sponsor sets the major goal for the project. Internal and external stakeholders

    Stakeholders can be internal or external to an organisation, and beyond the main group of interested parties, they can be quite diverse, depending on the nature of the project. Table 1 lists some possible internal stakeholders and what their interest is.

    Table 1: Examples of internal stakeholders are as follows:

    Stakeholder Details

    Sponsor The person or business unit that initiated the project and provides

    funding for the project.

    Project Team The project manager and team members who carry out all of the tasks

    required to complete the project on time and within budget.

    Senior Senior management obviously have an interest in projects undertaken management by their organisation, and their approval will be required, particularly

    for large projects.

    Functional They become involved when they offer one or several of their staff to

    Managers take part in a specific project for a period of time.

    Shareholders As they usually provide the funding they have a vested interest in the

    success of the project.

    External stakeholders can include:

    ; clients or customers ; suppliers and contractors

    ; industry ; general public

    ; steering committee members ; relevant interest groups

    ; environmental associations ; unions

    ; media ; the end user.

    ; government representatives

    The impact stakeholders have on a project

    Stakeholders in any given project play an important and continuous role in the life of that project. They may be able to offer suggestions, describe the

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    Reading: Identify project management processes

    requirements of a project, evaluate a project and provide extra funds for a project.

    Successful project managers are excellent communicators and develop good relationships with all project stakeholders to make sure that their needs and expectations are not only understood and agreed to, but are constantly met during the life of the project.

    The project manager will perform a stakeholder analysis to ensure the success of the project. The analysis will help identify all groups that must be interacted with and all common interests, develop appropriate strategies for negotiating competing requirements, and help the project manager allocate resources to accomplish the project goal.

    Stakeholders are important because have a vested interest in the outcomes of a project. This may be because:

    ; they may have staff involved in work activities

    ; they have invested funds in the project

    ; their department will be using the new product.

    Milestones and deliverables

    What is a milestone?

    It is usually good practice to break a project down into manageable chunks of work. Milestones occur at the end of these major chunks. You can think of milestones as major points along the pathway towards the completion of a project.

    Milestones can also provide an overall view and summarise important activities for managers and stakeholders who don’t need to get involved in specific detailed activities. Obtaining project approval is an example of a milestone. Another would be obtaining sign-off on a prototype design. What is a deliverable?

    The end objective of the project is a deliverable, but along the way there will be many pieces of work that need to be finished. These can be products, services, reports, plans and so on. These too are all project deliverables, as are approved plans, prototypes and even the installed system.

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    What is project management?

    Project management is about striving to meet specific time, cost, quality and resource objectives for projects. At the same, time it must facilitate the entire process so to meet the needs and expectations of all people affected by project activities.

    Project management is about making change happen by a systematic application of techniques, tools and resources that manage change throughout the life of the project.

    Making personal change happen is easier than making change happen in industry. Common decisions like changing the car you drive are relatively easy to make because the only person to persuade is yourself. In industry, most projects involve many resources, and the outcomes can cause changes throughout the organisation. These changes could be re-structuring, re-training, or new products. Whatever the case, change is inevitable and a project manager must make the changes happen smoothly.

    General management skills

    Project management is more than listing tasks and entering tasks into a software package. It is about managing people and resources to ensure the completion of the project. It is based on sound general management principles that are used to manage all of the work activities on a project to achieve a desired goal on time and within budget.

    Several commonly accepted principles of management are:

    ; Planning and defining the objectives, work estimates, schedules and

    budgets to reach the project goal

    ; Organising the team and all other resources to complete the work

    ; Controlling the project, by tracking and monitoring the progress

    against the initial project plan

    ; Leading the project team

    ; Communicating to all interested parties.

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    What makes a good project manager? To be a successful project manager it is necessary that you are a good manager and a good leader. Project managers need strong management skills to be able to lead people, to communicate, negotiate, organise and plan, solve problems, influence people, analyse, set goals, listen to people, motivate people, and achieve targets.

    A project manager must focus on leadership and teamwork skills to lead the team in the most effective way to achieve the project goals. They must use their communication and political skills to build positive relationships that enable them to understand and meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations in different departments within an organisation.

    A project manager must also have good organisational skills, to be able to plan, analyse, set and achieve project objectives, work plans and schedules. Organisations employ specialised project managers because they have skills in collectively managing aspects of a project including:

    ; the budget ; the team members ; stakeholders.

    ; the schedule ; functional

    managers

    They do not manage a permanent department like functional managers do. They manage a given team over a given time period. Then, with a new project, they do it all over again with a different team, budget and schedule.

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    What are project goals and objectives? Project goals

    Every project has a major purpose or direction. Once a project has been identified, the major stakeholder or sponsor will make a clear statement of what they want to achieve. This is often called the goal of the project. The sponsor’s goal will be defined by end products or services the sponsor wishes to acquire. The following are examples of particular project goals.

    ; Build a new assembly line in the Australian car plant by January 1,

    2009.

    ; Design and complete pilot test of a new file server by the end of

    February 2008.

    ; Install new system software on all desktops by December 31, 2007.

    ; Increase company sales by 31st December 2007.

    ; Relocate the company to new premises by 30th June 2008.

    Project objectives

    To successfully complete a project, several major steps need to take place. These steps usually represent the major parts of the project. These are the project objectives, sometimes called milestones.

    As the project manager you will work with stakeholders to identify the key project objectives for the project goal.

    Objectives are not actual work but are sub-goals that are used to focus work activities during the life of the project. Objectives have outputs that are the clearly defined in terms of goods, results or services produced during the project or at its completion.

    These outputs are sometimes referred to as deliverables and may include

    reports, plans, products, or even organisational changes.

    In many project management textbooks, the terms goal, objective, milestone and deliverable are often interchanged and used to mean the same thing. However, in this topic we will use the following definitions.

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    Reading: Identify project management processes

    Table 2: Definitions

    Definition Details

    The major purpose of the project Goal

    The major components, stages, or milestones of the project Objectives

    The outputs defined in the objectives Deliverables

    Later in the topic, we will discuss organisational objectives as well as

    specific project team objectives.

    An example of project objectives

    Here is one of the goals mentioned earlier:

    ‘Install new system software on all desktops by December 31, 2007’

    Examples of project objectives for this goal could be:

    ; System engineering to evaluate software by 30/07/2007

    ; Network administration to complete rollout plan by 30/07/2007

    ; Software purchased for each desktop by 31/10/2007

    ; System engineering to complete pilot test by 31/10/2007

    ; Network Administration to begin rollout no later than 14/11/2007. The role of project objectives

    It is extremely important to be precise about the project objectives because

    they are the foundation from which the project plan is developed.

    Project objectives can influence:

    ; the selection of the project team

    ; task definition

    ; resource allocation

    ; budget and the schedule.

    Objectives are also compared against outcomes at the end of the project and continuously during the life of the project, to make sure that expectations have been met and that the project is moving in the right direction. Risk of not establishing project objectives

    There are great risks for project managers who fail to establish objectives at the start of a project. Objectives are like a map, they give us an end destination, but it is up to us to get there. How and when we get there depends on our resources, team members, schedules, activities and so on.

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    What makes a good project objective?

    When people talk about good objectives for their work, and in many cases their personal life, they might refer to these objectives as being SMART. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time related. However, we also suggest one more ’R’—which stands for ’Responsibility’, to make sure that a person or group take responsibility for the particular deliverables that meet the objective.

    So, to be a good project objective, it needs to meet six general criteria to make sure that the project accomplishes something of real value. If you always use these six criteria when writing project objectives you will ensure correct focus on the project activities. Good project objectives need to be ’SMARTR’! as summarised in Table 3.

    Table 3: Six criteria for project objectives

    1 Specific The objectives of the project must be clear, detailed and

    understandable to others.

    2 Measurable The measurable end results of objectives are deliverables and these

    are the physical products or services that will be delivered at the end

    of the project.

    3 Agreed At the start of the project, the project manager and the stakeholders

    must agree on the objectives before any planning and work starts. If

    stakeholders cannot agree on outcomes then the project is doomed

    before starting.

    4 Realistic No matter how great the idea, if there is not enough time, resources,

    skills or budget then it is not realistic.

    5 Time related Each objective must have a realistic time component and a definite

    finish date, otherwise it may never be completed.

    6 Responsibility The project manager has the overall responsibility for the success of

    the project. Each objective must also have a person or group that is

    responsible for the deliverables that meet the objective.

    Developing project objectives

    The project manager needs to be an effective and active communicator, which means being a good listener and an articulate speaker. One of the first responsibilities of the project manager is to communicate with all of the stakeholders, especially the sponsors of the project, and to establish agreement on the goal of the project.

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    Reading: Identify project management processes

    The project manager arranges and directs the meetings held with these groups, and uses effective questioning skills to establish the project objectives based on the agreed project goal. Each stakeholder usually can have different expectations about the outcome of the project, and it is essential that these are determined and understood by the project manager. The project manager uses effective questioning techniques to determine from each stakeholder what their needs and expectations are. The project manager has to determine from the stakeholders, information about such things as:

    ; time frames

    ; quality criteria

    ; product expectation

    ; staff availability

    ; budgetary allowances, and any constraints there may be. Once all of the information has been documented and agreed upon, the project manager can then develop the project objectives with the co-operation of the stakeholders and the sponsor.

    When the project objectives are established and the responsibility for each has been agreed on, they are then prioritised and the project plan can be developed.

    Prioritising objectives

    It is common for stakeholders to think that objectives that most concern them are the most importantthat their own interest reflects the most

    important objective of a project. This is human nature.

    Project managers determine the benefits and costs of meeting all of the objectives. They also consider which objectives are feasible, given the time frame, budget and resources available. Therefore, the objectives are listed in a sequential order.

    This may be in order of:

    ; date required

    ; the length of development time, or

    ; the availability of resources.

    Figure 1 has a list of objectives for a project.

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