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 sometimes conflated with program management, however technically a program is actually a higher level construct: a group of related and somehow interdependent projects.
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 unique 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.
Traditionally, project management includes a number of elements: four to five process groups, and a control system. Regardless of the methodology or terminology used, the same basic project management processes will be used.
The project development stages. Major process groups generally include:
Planning or development
Production or execution
Monitoring and controlling
In project environments with a significant exploratory element (e.g., Research and development), these stages may be supplemented with decision points (go/no go decisions) at which the project's continuation is debated and decided. An example is the Stage-Gate model.
Initiating Process Group Processes. The initiation processes determine the nature and scope of the project. If this stage is not performed well, it is unlikely that the project will be successful in meeting the business’ needs. The key project controls needed here are an understanding of the business environment and making sure that all necessary controls are incorporated into the project. Any deficiencies should be reported and a recommendation should be made to fix them.
The initiation stage should include a plan that encompasses the following areas:
Analyzing the business needs/requirements in measurable goals
Reviewing of the current operations
Financial analysis of the costs and benefits including a budget
Stakeholder analysis, including users, and support personnel for the project
Project charter including costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedule
Planning and design
After the initiation stage, the project is planned to an appropriate level of detail. The main purpose is to plan time, cost and resources adequately to estimate the work needed and to effectively manage risk during project execution. As with the Initiation process group, a failure to adequately plan greatly reduces the project's chances of successfully accomplishing its goals.
Project planning generally consists of determining how to plan (e.g. by level of detail or rolling wave);
• developing the scope statement;
• selecting the planning team;
• identifying deliverables and creating the work breakdown structure;
• identifying the activities needed to complete those deliverables and networking the activities in their logical sequence;
• estimating the resource requirements for the activities;
• estimating time and cost for activities;
• developing the schedule;
• developing the budget;