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Project Management

Project Management is the art and science of organizing and regulating the different elements of a project. For a business, this could be the development of a new product, the launch of a new service or a marketing campaign. Frank Johnson describes the nine important processes of Project Management.
Projects are undertaken at different levels in an organization and may involve a single unit or different departments and thousands of people. Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to accomplish specified project goals.

At the beginning of any project, there will be a variety of ideas and opinions about the purpose and scope of the project, what the final output of the project will be, and how the project will be carried out. The Project Initiation Stage needs to take these ideas and intentions into consideration and develop them into formal, planned, resourced and funded project. All assumptions about the project must be listed, evaluated with its risks analyzed and contingency plans developed.
Project management also calls for close monitoring of the budget, scope and schedule to deliver the project objectives at the expected quality levels. The organizations need to follow a systematic approach to manage the different elements of a project.
The Nine Project Management Processes are:
1.    Scope Management
2.    Schedule Management
3.    Budget Management
4.    Quality Management
5.    Team Management
6.    Stakeholder Management
7.    Information Management
8.    Risk Management
9.    Contract Management

A critical role of the Project Manager is to see that all these processes are well coordinated. The effort and details required for each process depend entirely on the size, complexity and risk of the project. The processes are interrelated and occur at varying levels of intensity throughout the phases of the project. Let us now check a few more details about the 9 processes:
Scope Management: Scope describes the boundaries of the project. It enlists what the project needs to deliver and ensures that all the goals and objectives of the project have been identified and documented. For complex projects requiring technical expertise, relevant people need to be involved in a brainstorming process while defining the scope of the project. The project manager also needs to prepare a ‘Work Breakdown Structure’ and define the hierarchy of work tasks that represent the work to be done. This also helps to decide the time and budget for the project.

Schedule Management: This process includes the action required to ensure the timely completion of the project. Once the scope of the project has been defined, there has to be a reasonable time frame within which the different tasks of the project have to be completed. Schedule management is also important to keep the project stake holders informed about the progress and status of the project. With an appropriate Work Breakdown Structure (for defining the work tasks), it becomes easier to monitor the schedule. If there are any delays involved, the cause must be analyzed and appropriate action needs to be taken to prevent further problems.

Budget Management: Budget Management process is essential to ensure that the project is completed within the allocated funds and financial resources. For business projects, this is a process that attracts the maximum scrutiny. The ability of a project management team to manage the allocated resources is a big measure of its efficiency. There should be a system for allocating incoming invoices to the correct activities and showing how the different costs hit the project account. A cost line should be created for the main expenditure activity and this can be broken down into individual elements.

Quality Management: A very important parameter to determine the actual success of the project, quality is the measure of excellence and the state of being free from defects, deficiencies and significant variations. Quality management is the process of ensuring that the project will meet or exceed the expectations of the beneficiaries. For this, the project managers have to develop a plan, identifying the quality standards that are relevant to the project. Quality control and improvement are important parts of this process.

Team Management: This includes the processes required to make the most efficient use of the skills, knowledge and expertise of people involved in the project. The roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships of the team members should be identified. The team management process also reflects upon the skills of the project manager and how well he/she can coordinate the team efforts for the task to be completed. Project manager may also have to arrange for training sessions if required, and ask for relevant updates from team members to gauge the process of project.

Stakeholder Management: Stakeholder management is a domain that does not receive much thought and planning in project management. Stakeholders are the people who have interest in the project. They may be clients, donors, partner organizations or anyone who is impacted by the project. The fulfillment of their expectations is integral to the success of the project. This is why it is essential to have a clear idea about the stakeholders of the project and comprehend their ideas about the same. Any issues, concerns raised by them have to be addressed in time.

Information Management: Information management involves the timely generation, collection, dissemination and storage of project progress reports. More than 50 percent of the project managers’ time is spent on communicating via emails, telephone calls, online messengers, meetings and conferences. Teams may have to exchange information and send reports critical for the completion of different stages of the project. Reports are also required for the time and resources spent on a project stage.

Risk Management: It is important for the project management team to identify and assess the risks associated with a project. This has to be followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor and control the probability and/or the impact of risks and threats. Risk mitigation measures are very significant for the real success of any project. Though some threats are unpredictable, there must be a plan to counter risks like financial uncertainties, legal issues, sudden accidents and also natural disasters, if applicable. Change management or the ability of the team to adapt to sudden change in conditions should also be a part of risk management.

Contract Management: For the completion of a project, certain goods and services may need to be purchased or hired from external third parties. Contract management involves the management of contracts made with vendors – negotiating the terms & conditions and ensuring compliance with same. Any changes in the terms must be documented and communicated to the concerned parties in time. Contract management is essential for optimum financial and operational success of a project while also reducing risks.

With adequate attention to the nine processes of Project Management and the application of right tools and techniques, the team involved can ensure the required level of success and fulfillment of different goals of any business project.

About the Author
This article by Frank Johnson is the first in his series on ‘Project Management’.  Frank is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that help small to mid size businesses.  To know more about Unified Communications applications and strategies, you may interact with him here

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