For Beginners, it is important to understand essential elements of Project Management. One has to understand associated attributes like team leadership aspect, Team formation with primary emphasis on the competencies and skills required for a successful project.

What is a Project?

A project is a temporary, one time undertaking that has a definable goal and creates a Unique Product or Service. Each term used in this definition is important while considering an assignment as a project.

  • Temporary – A Project should have an end Date
  • Definable Goal – A Goal that could be measured to define success of the project
  • Unique Product/Service – The Deliverable of the Project should be Unique ie different from any prior project.

One of the things about project is the constraints. We have Scope, Quality, Cost and Time targets that we must adhere to as a success criterion of any project. These are called constraints because, once fixed, we cannot change one of these elements without changing at least one of the others, may be two or may be all of them. Thus, all must agree that the project has to be done at that quality, in that time frame for that amount of money.

Who is the Project Manager?

The person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. A project Manager should own the following skills to succeed:

  • Technical Skills (Knowledge of Subject matter, need not be an expert)
  • Project Management Process Skill (Tools and Techniques)
  • Leadership Skills.

What is Project Management?

The Application of Knowledge, Skills, tools and Techniques on the project activities to meet project requirements. Project Management Process in divided into 5 Process Groups. These groups are further bifurcated in 10 Knowledge Areas and 49 Project Management Processes.

These Process Groups are:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring & Controlling
  • Closing

The 10 Knowledge Areas are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholders management

Before we start with the various Project Management Group explanation, there is a very basic question that needs to be answered here. Why “project management process groups”, while we usually assign project with phases or stages. One might think that “project management phases” would be a more fitting term for the five stages of a successful project—initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling, and closing. Each of these phases represents a group of interrelated processes that must take place, but they do not roll out in a strictly sequential order. (For example, executing happens at the same time as monitoring/controlling.) So, on revisiting this statement, we understand that the PMBOK people chose the “process group” label precisely because it doesn’t imply sequence or chronology, unlike “phase” or “stage.”

Let us now learn more about the different Groups

Initiating

This Group includes processes performed to define a New Project. It required obtaining formal authorization to start the project or phase. There are two Key Elements in the Initiating Process.

Develop Project Charter:

Project Charter defines the Purpose and Justification of doing the project in first place. It is a signed agreement between all involved parties. The Project Charter has following attributes:

Definition of the Project – This could be a Problem statement or the Business Justification.

Scope Statement – How big the project is and what are the deliverable. All the things that will be created/ Delivered, All the work that will be done during the project becomes the part of Scope. It should also document the exclusions, if any.

  • User Acceptance/ Project Success Criteria
  • Project Constraints
  • Project Assumptions
  • Summary Milestone Schedule
  • Summary Budget
  • High Level Risks
  • Stakeholders List

Re-iterating once again, this Project charter is useful only when agreed and signed by the Project Sponsor. Sponsor here is the person who receive the deliverable of the project.

Identify Stakeholders:

Individuals and Organizations that are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected because of the project execution or project completion. They may also exert influence over the project and its result. Stakeholders could include:

  • Customer – The person actually be using the project output.
  • Project Team
  • Project Manager
  • Project Sponsor

Develop Stakeholder Analysis:

A technique to Gather and Analyze Quantitative and Qualitative information to determine whose interests should be considered throughout the Projec

Planning

1. Develop Project Management Plan

The project plan is a lay-out of project tasks with times and resources assigned.

Plan Risk Management

A ‘RISK’ is an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objective.
There are four steps to plan Risk:

  • Find the Risk
  • Analyze the Risk
    • Qualitative – Impact (How Good/ Bad?)
    • Quantitative – Probability
  • Develop the Risk Plan
  • Mitigate the Risk as they arise

Make decisions and Take Actions based on Risk Priorities. For this we need to understand how to focus on Risk. Here we will introduce “Risk Priority Number” or “Total Risk Number”.

Risk Mitigation

Once we identify and evaluate the risk, the project team develops a risk mitigation plan. This is a plan to reduce the impact of an unexpected event. There are different ways to tackle Positive and Negative risks.

Strategies for Negative risks or threats:

  • Risk avoidance – develop an alternative strategy that has a higher probability of success. It usually has a higher cost associated with accomplishing a project task.
  • Risk Reduction – Plan to decrease Total Risk No. by either reducing the Probability or Reducing the Impact. The remaining risk is called the Residual Risk. It might need investment of funds.
  • Risk transfer – shift the risk from the project to another party.
  • Accept – Live with the risk and plan alternate for the impact.

Strategies for Positive risks or Opportunities:

  • Risk sharing – partner/ Joint Venture with others to share responsibility for the risk activities
  • Exploit – Explore how can we benefit if this happens.
  • Enhance – Enhance the Risk/ Opportunity.
  • Accept – Live with the risk and plan alternate for the impact.

Each of these mitigation techniques can be an effective tool in reducing individual risks and the risk profile of the project. The risk mitigation plan captures the risk mitigation approach for each identified risk event. It will also suggest actions the project management team will take to reduce or eliminate the risk.

2. Plan Scope Management

To understand and define the scope of the project, we have to understand the work that needs to be done to get the desired deliverables. For this, we have to prepare the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Why WBS:

  • Foundation for Planning the Project
  • Project Planning is based on the tasks displayed on the WBS
  • Provides the detailed Illustration of the project
  • Defines Human Resource and Cost estimates
  • Provides clear assignments to Project Members

The Diagram here shows that the entire project represented as a Level 1 component can be subdivided into Level 2 components. Some or all Level 2 components can be sub-divided into Level 3 Components. Continue to sub-divide in the same manner. Reach a point when the components defined are sufficiently detailed for planning and management purpose. The n-th component are called Work Packages. Each Work Package will have assigned resources, cost and Time. This will be a part of WBS Dictionary.

Scheduling:

Scheduling shows the relationship of the project activities and tasks. It also shows the dependencies (which task follow the other tasks in a logical sequence)

The terms that we use while preparing a project schedule –

  • Early Start – The earliest time a task could ever possibly start.
  • Early Finish – The earliest time a task could possibly finish if everything went exactly right.
  • Late Start – The latest we could ever start this project and still get the project done on time.
  • Late Finish – The latest we could ever finish the task and still have the project come in on time.
  • Critical Path – Critical Path is usually the sequence of scheduled activities that determines the duration of the project. It is the longest path through the project.
  • Total Float Time (Slack Time) – The Total amount of time a schedule activity may be delayed from its Early Start Date without delaying the project finish date.
  • Free Float – The total amount of time a schedule activity can be delayed without delaying the early start of any immediately following schedule activities.
  • Milestones – Milestones are Zero duration tasks that designate significant events in the project.

The Basic Building Block of the Network Diagram looks like below:

How to construct a Schedule:

  • Move the detailed tasks (from WBS work packages) to the timeline.
  • Add the task durations.
  • Arrange the tasks into sequential or simultaneous relationships.
  • Add the initial start or finish of the overall project.
  • Add the early Start, early finish, Late start and late finish times.
  • We may also add resource Name & Cost associated with each task.

The Project Schedule also acts as a very effective Communication Tool and Tracking Tool.

3. Plan Cost Management

Purpose of Cost Management Plan is to Document how the Project Costs will be planned, structured and Controlled. The Project Manager must Estimate approximate cost involved in Project Work. This cost will then be used to Determine Budget. Project cost estimation involves estimation of:

  • Labor Cost
  • Material Cost
  • Cost of Quality
  • Services Cost
  • Facilities Cost
  • Other Costs – Allowance for inflation, Contingency, etc.

4. Plan Quality Management

Quality Management Planning helps in identification of Quality requirements and document how the project will demonstrate compliance. There are two elements to Quality.

  • Quality Assurance – This tries to keep errors out of the product or services by improving the processes and appraising cost of inspection and Measurements.
  • Quality Control – This tries to keep the errors out of the hands of the customer. It includes Repairs, Reworks and Scrap Cost.

5. Plan Resource Management

Determine the Human Resource Requirements for the project and then getting them.
Manage and lead the project team from beginning to end of the project.
Before engaging the Human Resource into the project, the project manager should estimate the following elements:

  • Work Effort – The number of Labor Units required to complete a schedule activity or WBS component, often expressed in hours, days or weeks.
  • Work Duration – The total number of work periods required to complete a schedule activity or WBS Component. It is usually expressed as work days or work weeks.

Before finalizing the human resource, the following questions should be pondered upon:

§ Can the person do this task?
§ Will the person do this task?
§ Is the person available during this time frame to do this task?

If the project manager misses to get answer to any of these question, it will add as a risk in the risk register.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) or RACI Chart

*Sample Template for RACI

Along with Human Resources, Resource management also involves planning, estimating, acquiring and controlling other physical equipment and Space required for performing the project tasks. A Project Manager must identify the Physical Resources and ensure effective Utilization of the same

6. Plan Procurement Management

Procurement Management Plan defines how procurement will be managed in the project. It contains:

  • The type of contracts to be used for various items
  • Responsibility to prepare independent estimates for the items to be procured.
  • What standard documents such as terms and conditions, drawings, specification sheets, Forms for statement of work are to be used.
  • How multiple vendors will be managed during the project
  • How pre-qualified sellers will be identified and evaluated
  • Lead time for various items
  • Procurement metrics to be used to manage contracts and evaluate resellers.

7. Plan Communication Management

90% of Project Managers time is spend in Communication. It is the Most Important skill required for Project Manager.

Project Communications Management involves timely and appropriate generation, collection, storage, retrieval, distribution and ultimate disposition of project information. Communication plan is required to develop an appropriate approach for project communication based on stakeholder’s information needs and requirements.

8. Plan Stakeholder Management

Purpose of the document is to identify management strategies required to effectively engage the stakeholders. It defines:

  • Desired and Current engagement levels of key stakeholders
  • Scope and Impact of change to stakeholders
  • Stakeholder communication requirements for each project phase
  • Information to be distributed to stakeholders, including language, format, content and level of details
  • Reason for distribution of that information of that information and expected impact to the stakeholder engagement
  • Timeframe and frequency of distribution of the information to stakeholders
  • Method of updating and refining stakeholder Management Plan

Executing

Do what you have planned and provisioned.

All projects should give us more than what we have put. As a project Manager, you must Direct and Manage project work and let project team work. The Project Manager perform Quality Assurance tasks to ensure that appropriate quality standards and measurements are used. He manages the Project Team, manage communications, Conduct Procurement, Governs the Project Schedule and resources and Manage Stakeholder’s Engagement.

Monitoring and Controlling

The monitoring and Controlling Process Group consists of those processes required to track, review and regulate the progress and performance for the project. The Project Manager identify any area in which changes to the plan are required and initiate the corresponding change

This process can be simply explained using a Weighing balance example:

 
What happens if the Project Goes Off Track?
The Project Manager has an important role to check the
  • S, Q, C, T Targets (with respect to baselined parameters)
  • Strategy
  • Estimates
  • Reporting of the Schedule and spending

The last thing to look at should be Human elements.
*S – Scope     Q – Quality     C – Cost          T – Time

As a Project Manager, you are expected to fix whatever is going out of track by controlling actions. The aim should be to successfully deliver results.

There are various ways to bring the project back to track (Project Compression).

1. Project CrashingProject crashing is the method for shortening the project duration by reducing the time of one or more critical activities to less than their normal time. Crashing is achieved by devoting more resources. Thus, the cost associated with the project is increased.

2. Fast Tracking – In fast tracking schedule compression technique, critical path activities are performed in parallel instead of series. This is possible only the activities are not in mandatory dependency.

3. Scope Reduction – Reducing the scope can help to reduce the remaining activities in the project and if the customer agrees, reducing the scope can help to complete the project on time. Buy-in and Sign off from Customers and Stakeholders in Mandatory to apply Scope reduction.

Change Management

If customer expectation changes, or the solution changes while executing the project, the role of project manager is to:

  • Refocus the customer or stakeholder on signed off Project Charter and deliverables.
  • Adjust the project by changing Scope and provisioning for Time and Cost.
  • Re-define the Project
  • S,Q,C,T targets and relationships
  • Strategy

Before implementing the suggested changes, these changes should be reviewed by the Change Control Board. In Project Management, a Change Control Board (CCB) is formed whose responsibility is to take the Ultimate decision on when and what changes should be made to schedule events. Change Control Board reviews and study the impact of the proposed changes on the items in question, and then, after making that evaluation, the Change Control Board can then either approve the changes, reject the changes, or, in some cases, request more information or postpone the decision pending some other occurrences to take place that would factor into their ultimate choice. Significant changes that will in fact affect baselines are almost always put through the CCB for approval. CCB is also termed as Change Authority Board (CAB) in some organizations.


Closing the Project

Closing the Project is the last stage of project Management. The following pointers to be checked before initiating closing.

  • Check that all exit criteria for the project have been met.
  • Confirm that all deliverable has been given to the customer.
  • Confirm Customer Confirmation.

Close out all the details

  • Schedule a close out meeting with the team.
  • Close out the financials, sub-contracts with vendors and contractors.
  • Inform all support functions on closure of the Project.
  • Discontinue all remaining project Charge items.

Review the Project Success

  • Review Project Documents
  • Review and Document the Financial performance of the project.
  • Review what went well.
  • Document lessons learnt and maintain repository.

And Finally,

RECOGNIZE, REWARD and CELEBRATE

Other Project Management Skills

Other than the Project Management Skills and Techniques, the Human Aspect of Project Management is an essential part.

At individual level, the processes are

  • Perceptions – Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
  • Decision making and problem solving – Project Manager must posses skills to make rational Decisions using various tools.
  • Motivation – The process that accounts for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal.

Team and Organizational Processes

  • Power and Politics – The capacity that a Project Manager must posses to influence the behavior of its team. PM can use either Reward Power or Coercive Power based on situation to make the team/ individual act in accordance.
  • Leadership – It’s the Ability to influence a group towards the achievement of Goals. A Project Manager may possess Autocratic Leadership Style or Democratic Leadership Style based on the situation. Though Democratic Style is always recommended.
  • Team Behavior – Keep the team aligned and help them attain the security, Status, Self-esteem, Affiliation, Power and Goal Achievement.
  • Negotiation – Project Manager must use Integrative Negotiation strategy that seeks one or more settlements that can create a win-win solution.
  • Conflict Management

The image is the Thomas Kilmann conflict Mode instrument which is a model for handling conflicts.

A project Manager should always use Collaborating Mode in which the concerns of all the parties are heard and satisfied.

A project Manager is also expected to follow Code or Ethics and Professional Conduct as prescribed by PMI.

*Some of the definitions are picked up directly from PMBOK – 6th Edition