Basics of Project Management

Basics of Project Management
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Chandana

Published on June 3, 2012


  • 370 Views

In this blog post let's discuss the basics of project management. We will begin by looking at what is a project charter and define problem statement. As we progress, we shall discuss project scope, project metrics, few project planning tools, project documentation, project risk analysis, and finally project closure.

Problem Statement

The first step towards starting a new project is to define the problem statement. A clearly defined problem statement that is measurable is the first step of a project. Additionally, a target timetable should also be included.

In other words, the problem statement should be a clear and concise description of the problem. It should be quantifiable with a metric that includes units. The problem statement should identify the gap in performance by recognizing the current state of performance or baseline and also acknowledge of the best in class performance levels. It should not contain any solutions or causes.

Project Charter

A charter is a written document that defines the team’s mission, scope of operation, objectives, time frame, and consequences. Charters can be developed by the top management and presented to the teams, or vice-versa. In either case, the top management has to endorse the team’s project charter to provide the direction and support needed for the team to succeed.

The team charter should include measurable objectives to be achieved from the project. The charter also defines the organizational and operating scope of the project. A good charter contains a section which includes support and commitment from the top management.

Project Charter Sections

The major sections of a project charter are project name and description, name of the project manager, business requirements, project purpose, stakeholder and stakeholder requirements, broad timelines, major deliverables, constraints and assumptions, and the budget summary of the charter.

Sample Project Charter

Lets have a look at a sample project charter for an IT upgrade project. The project title is Information Technology Upgrade Project. The start date is fourth of February, twenty ten while the project finish date is fourth of November, twenty ten. In this case we have a project manager by the name of Person C, his email being abc at xyz dot com.

The project objective is to upgrade hardware and software for approximately two thousand employees within nine months based on corporate standards. We also have a reference sheet which describes the new standards. The upgrades may affect servers and associated network hardware and software. The budget for this project is one million dollars for hardware and software, and five hundred thousand dollars for labor.

A planned approach should be taken. To begin with, the information technology inventory database should be updated to determine upgrade needs. A detailed cost estimate must be created for the project and reported to the chief information officer, the CIO. Requests for quote should be made to obtain hardware and software equipment. Finally, for project planning, analysis, and installation, internal staff must be used.

Let us look at the roles and responsibilities of various personnel in an organization

Person A is the chief executive officer, the CEO of the company and is responsible for sponsoring the project and monitoring the project as well.

Person B is the Chief Information Officer. His responsibility is to monitor the project and provide staff for the projects.

Person C is the project manager and is responsible for project planning and execution.

Person D is the director of IT operations and is responsible for mentoring the project manager.

Person E is the vice president of human resources and his responsibilities include providing staff for project activities and issuing project related memo to all employees.

Person F is the director of purchasing and assists in purchasing hardware equipment and software tools.

Project Plan

A project plan is the final approved document which is used to manage and control the various processes within the project and ensure its seamless execution.

The project manager uses the project charter as an input to create a detailed project plan. A project plan comprises of various sections, prominent among them are the project management approach, the scope statement, the work breakdown structure, the cost estimates, scheduling, defining performance baselines, marking major milestones to be achieved, the key members and required staff personnel for the project. It also includes the key risks involved and the various open and pending decisions related to the project. Additionally, it also contains references to other subsidiary plans for managing risk, scope, and schedule etc.

Project Scope

The project scope defines, develops, and reviews the project boundaries while ensuring adequate project value for the customer. It also refers to all the work involved in creating the various products of the project and numerous processes used to create them. Project scope management has an important role to play. It includes the various processes involved in defining and controlling what is included and what is not included within the project. We shall define a few terms associated with the project scope.

Scope Planning is the process of deciding how the project scope will be defined, verified, and controlled.

Scope definition is the process of reviewing the project charter and the preliminary scope statement and adding more information as more requirements are developed and many change requests are approved.

The Work Breakdown Structure or WBS (pronounced as W-B-S) is a tool used to define and group the project deliverables and work elements into smaller, organized, and manageable components.

The process of formally receiving the acceptance of the project scope from the stakeholders and sponsors is known as scope verification.

Scope control is one of the keys to effective project management. Scope control allows the changes or addition of critical tasks without adding in unnecessary items which might cause the project to miss critical deadlines. In other words, scope control is all about controlling the changes to the project scope. In the next slide, we shall look at the various techniques used for identifying project scope.

Techniques for Identifying Project Scope

Project scope can be interpreted from the problem statement and the project charter using various tools like the Pareto chart and the SIPOC (see-pock) map. We have discussed them in detail in previous slides of this session.

The principle behind the Pareto chart or the eighty twenty principle as we know it is of vital few, trivial many. The Pareto chart helps the teams to trim the scope of the project by identifying the causes which have major impact on the outcome of the project.

The SIPOC map is a high level process map which helps all team members in understanding the process functions in terms of addressing questions like who the suppliers are, what the inputs from them, what are the outputs that can be obtained and who the customers are. As discussed earlier, SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process outputs and customers.

Project Primary Metrics

The fundamental elements required for measuring a project’s progress are the project metrics. They are needed to ensure that the project requirements are measurable and controlled throughout the project. In the define phase, we developed the primary metrics of the project, however, they are not finalized till the measure phase of the project.

Various sources provide us the primary metrics for consideration in the project. These sources are the supplies, internal processes, and customers. The primary metrics for the project are quality, cycle time, cost, value, and labor.

Secondary Project Metrics

After we arrive at the primary metrics for the project, we move towards deriving the secondary metrics. The secondary metrics for the project are usually the numerical representation of the primary metrics.

Some of the examples for secondary metrics would include the number of defects per unit or DPU, the number of defects per million opportunities or DPMO, the average age of the receivables, the number of lines of error free software code, and reduction in amount of scrap.

Project Planning Tools

The project manager uses various tools to plan and control a project. One of the tools which he uses is the Pareto chart. We have discussed that in the previous slides. As we proceed we shall look at other methods and tools employed for project planning.

Other prominent tools include the network diagram, the critical path method also called CPM, the program evaluation and review technique which is also known as the PERT (pronounced as pert) method, Gantt charts, and the Work Breakdown Structures also known as the WBS.

About the Author

Chandana is working as a Senior Content Writer in Simplilearn.com and handles variety of creative writing jobs. She has done M.A. in English Literature from Gauhati University. A PRINCE2 Foundation certified, she has a unique and refreshing style of writing which can engross the readers to devour each sentence of her write-ups.


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