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Introduction To Project Management - KontenthISL Trainings


Introduction to Project Management I

1. Projects and Project Management

A. Project.

A project is a temporary undertaking with a beginning and an end aimed at creating a unique product, service or result. The end of a project is said to be reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated. A project may be terminated if the client or sponsor wishes to because the objectives cannot be met or the need for the project no longer exists. A project creates a deliverable or a set of deliverables at the end or at specific points along the project lifecycle. Deliverables are simply results or products you are expected to produce or make at various timelines of your project lifecycle. For example, a deliverable might be for you to have finished constructing your foundation at the end of Week 4 of your project. The foundation is your deliverable. Examples of projects includes construction of a new building, manufacturing plant, infrastructure, developing a new software, product, service etc.

A program is a combination of related projects. By grouping related projects, an organization can coordinate the management of those projects. The program approach focuses on interdependencies between projects and can help reduce risk and improve management of these projects.

A portfolio is a group of projects, programs and other related works managed as one to achieve strategic objectives. Portfolio management involves the centralized management of one or more portfolios to increase the likelihood of desired results, reduce risks and optimize resources to achieve a goal.

B. Project Management

According to the PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Project management enables organizations or companies to execute projects effectively and efficiently, meet stakeholder’s expectations, increase chances of success, deliver the right products at all times, manage constraints and reduce/respond to risks in a timely manner.

2. Projects versus Operations

The work done in an organization is either operational and or project work. Operational work is ongoing work to support the business and systems of an organization and project work ends when the project is closed. Projects are unique and temporary while operations are ongoing and permanent with a repetitive output. Projects have a sum earmarked for its execution while operations have to earn a profit to run the business. It is important to understand the difference.

In most cases, when a project is completed and signed off, it is handed off to operations to incorporate in their day to day running of the organization. For example, a software might be developed to automate a process in a supermarket and once it is completed, it is deployed to the cashiers to start using in their daily to daily activities.

3. Project Environment/ Organizational structure.

Projects do not exist or operate in a vacuum. It is usually governed and impacted by the management policies and procedures of the organization of which they are part of. The internal factors within the organization can affect the progress of a project. Project managers also look out for these influences and find an effective way to navigate them for the benefit of the project and organization at large.

The organizational structure determines how much resources will be made available to the project manager, how communications will be handled and how much cooperation he will get on his project. Organizational factors ranges from functional to projectized, with a mix of matrix structures in between.

A functional organization is a hierarchy where each employee has one clear superior and staff members are grouped by job functions such as marketing, accounting, engineering department. They work independently. If a project is to be organized in this setting, the project manager may have to pull resources from the superiors by getting their approval. The project manager here is more of an expediter than a manager because he needs a team from the organization to finish the project and he sources them from the organization.

A matrix organization is a blend of functional and projectized organization. When you see matrix, think of two bosses. The team members report to two bosses: the project manager and the functional manager (e.g engineering manager). The team members do project work in addition to their normal departmental work. It can be weak, balanced and strong depending on the relative power and influence of the functional managers (superiors) and project manager. In strong matrix, power rest more with the project manager.

In a projectized setting, the project team members are colocated i.e in one location or office. Most of the organization’s resources are involved in the project work and the project manager has a lot of independence and authority. The team members report to the project manager and may or may not provide support services to other projects in the organization.

Figure 1. Influence of Organizational Structure on Projects (Source: PMBOK Guide Fifth Ed)

4. Project Team.

The project team includes the project manager and the individuals who work together in achieving the project’s objectives. The project team includes the project manager, the project management staff, and other team members who carry out the work but may not be necessarily involved in the management of the project. One constant role of a project manager is one of leadership. He leads the team in performing the work of the project to achieve its objectives.

5. Project Constraints

As a project manager, you must be able to juggle many things critical for your project success. There are three major constraints, the so called “Triple Constraints” of Cost, Time and Scope. They are the big hitters.

Cost constraint or budget is the financial resources at the project manager’s disposal for the resources needed for the project.

Time constraint refer to the project schedule for completion for deliverables and final handover.

Scope constraint are the specific goals, deliverables, functions and features in addition to the tasks needed to finish the project.

Other constraints are risk, quality, resources and customer satisfaction.

Understanding the relationship between the constraints and how they impact a project can help you manage your project efficiently.

6. The Project Manager

The project manager is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team responsible for achieving the project objectives. The project manager may report to the functional manager, top management or the client/sponsor depending on the type of organizational structure as discussed earlier.

A project manager must possess the necessary project management knowledge and skills and be responsive for the team. He should possess competences in technical project management, leadership and strategic and business management. These three are called the PMI Talent Triangle.

Technical project management skills involve possessing the skills to effectively apply project management knowledge to deliver the desired outcomes for projects. Leadership involves the ability to guide, motivate and direct the team. Strategic and business management skills involve the ability to see the high level overview of the organization and negotiate and implement decisions and actions that will strategically align with the business.

Olakunle Akinola
Course Facilitator.



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