Introduction to Project Management
May 29, 2014
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When I was working as a junior software developer, I was under the impression that project management and project manager are futile. Obviously, I was way to naive to understand the gravity of things and get a holistic view of things. With time, I understood the importance of successful project executions and the significant part of project management and project manager in a successful project.
So let us assume that this blog is being read by someone who is trying to understand the Project Management. The first thing, we need to look into is the various terms and definitions. So let us start looking at few of the terms that we will be using very frequently.
Terms and Definitions:
- Resource – It refers to any tangible and/or intangible stuff needed to execute a project. manpower, machines, budget and raw material are all examples of resources. For a Software project the resources will include software developers, computer hardware, computer software etc.
- Process – Process is a set of activities executed in a particular order to as to complete a task or achieve a desired result of any activity. A process is part of the project. A Project will typically consist of a lot of tasks and activities and thus a project contains lot of processes.
- Project – A project is a set of activities which are chained together in a logical order so as to achieve some predefined goals(goals for which the project is undertaken).
- Management – Management is the technique of understanding the problems and coordinating the efforts and usage of all the available resources so that the activity being managed can be done efficiently and effectively.
- Project Management – It is an art of planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling all the available tangible and intangible resources available for the project.
Need for Project Management
To understand the need for project management let us try to see the major problems projects might run into and then see how project management practices and help preventing them.
- Scope Creep: Scope of the project refers to the various parameters that affect the project in its planning, formulation and execution. It is the way we define the project boundaries. Scope is something that is ideally defined in the beginning of the project. But in all real world scenarios, the scope of the project may undergo a change. But this change in scope sometimes overshoot the project budget, increase project cost and delay the project. Project management practices helps an organisation to define and control project scope in a better manner.
- Lack of understanding: Many a times, when the project starts, there is not enough understanding about the project. Lack of understanding of the project among the participants leads to failure. Project management practices helps participants understand the project and its purpose.
- Risks: A project is vulnerable to various risks. A project is affected if the technology used is changed during the course of project execution. Similarly changes in economic conditions may affect a project. Project management is very useful in assessing and mitigating such risks.
- Communication Issues: Many projects requires multiple teams to work on it. Communication between these teams is an essential for the project else the project failure is inevitable. Project management practices helps in identifying the needs for communication, facilitating proper communication between teams to avoid all the communication related issues.
- Problems/Impediments: During the project execution various problems might surface. These problems could be at an individual level, team level or even the process level. Consequences of ignoring project related problems can be very serious for the project. Project management practices are very useful in assessing and mitigating such problems.
so the main idea behind having project management best practices is preventing Project Failure. A project requires huge investments which should not go waste. A loss in any project would have direct or indirect impact on the society. Project management helps an organisation prevent failures in projects.
Key Responsibilities of a Project Manager
Now that we understand that project management is essential for the success of any project, let us take a 30000 feet view at key responsibilities of the Project Manager.
- Budgeting and cost control
- Scheduling tasks
- Allocating resources
- Tracking project expenditures
- Ensuring technical quality
- Managing relations with the customer and company
Life cycle of a project manager overlaps with the development life cycle in the middle. Duties of a project manager start before the development and continue even after delivery of the product.