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Defining the Project (Planning Process and Methods), Essay Example

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Essay

INTRODUCTION

Project Management has been defined as – the consolidation of activities that are instrumental in achieving a set of goals. This includes planning, work scheduling and management of risk, the latter being to mitigate the failure of the project during it’s’ lifecycle of development.  Project Management lifecycle refers to the phases that a project goes through. In methodology terms this is sometimes referred to as a ‘waterfall approach’, owing to the incremental build process e.g. Project Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Implementation.  A Project Management work breakdown structure (WBS) refers to a hierarchical build of the activities that can be built within the concept of a project plan i.e. Gantt

 PROJECT PLANNING

A detailed project plan contains a number of vital information components.  The most important of these being the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This is essentially a hierarchical representation of the project being planned. It is normally split into the following hierarchical levels:  Phase, Activity, Task, Sub Task and Milestone.  The milestones are essential important review points in the plan and may be associated with deliverables. The plan also contains details of the resource allocation to the project and these are often expressed in terms of percentage of person-day effort.  Timing for completion of tasks is also expressed in terms of actual effort and elapsed time effort.  A critical path may also be produced illustrating the shortest time between events.  Risk mitigations are also shown as tasks on the plan with assigned resources against them.  Finally, the concepts of dependencies, including external dependencies, are important elements of the plan. (Evelyn  2011)

Two reasons for the importance of scheduling are (1) Resource Levelling – the importance to avoid conflict in the utilization of resources so as to ensure there is no conflict in the apportionment of resource time divided between different tasks on this project or other projects (2) Capacity Planning – To ensure that the task has been adequately staffed with the right appropriation of resources. For example a 2 day task might be allocated as Systems Analyst (0.5 day) , QA Person (0.5 day) and Programmer (1.0) day = Total capacity 2 days. (Lewis, 2011)

METHODOLOGIES

Project Management methodologies are used in order to organize Planning, Organization and control into a structured environment. For example PRINCE2 has eight stages in the total project lifecycle delivery process.  Each stage represents a deliverable in the overall incremental delivery process and has Stage Gate Reviews in order to review and sign off the completion of a stage before proceeding to the next.  All projects require some form of Project Management and these are often broken into small, medium and complex projects. This categorization will determine the number of mandatory tasks required within each stage of the project. (Charvat, 2003).

MANAGEMENT HARD AND SOFT SKILLS.

In general terms, hard skills relate to the competent use of technical tools such as Microsoft Project or Excel to create schedules, work breakdown structures, spreadsheets etc.  Soft skills are those needed to manage interpersonal relations such as managing project sponsors’ and other stakeholders’ expectations, project team members’ or end users’ resistance to change, and most importantly, leadership skills.  Communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, problem-solving, motivating and influencing skills are also important soft skills.  (Wills, 2010)

Much research (including the Standish Group’s CHAOS Theory (www.standishgroup.com, 1995) has been undertaken regarding the effect of a project manager’s lack of hard and soft skills on project success or failure.  It is therefore vital that project managers have expertise in the hard and soft skills to manage the triple constraint of all projects – to complete the project on time, within budget and within scope.  This involves managing the many risks that threaten the successful outcome of a project manifested in scope creep, extra costs or in scheduling issues.

References

Charvat, J. (2003). Project Management Methodologies: Selecting, Implementing, and Supporting Methodologies and Processes for Projects. London : Hohn Wiley & Sons.

G, E. (2011, 7 21). Content of the project plan. Retrieved from Station Computing: http://www.sharepointgeoff.com/spsprjmgmt/contprjplan.pdf

Lewis, J. (2011). Project Planning, Schduling and Control. New York: McGraw Hill.

Project Management Institute. (2008). A guide to the Project Management Body og knowledge. New York: Project Management Institute.

Wills, K. (2010). Essential Project Management Skills. New York: Tsylor and Francis.

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