Project Lifecycle, Planning, Teamwork, Software

The term project management can be defined as the application of management tasks, skills, tools, methods and techniques to project in order to direct and complete it (Kleinaltenkamp, Plinke, & Geiger, 2013). It is also includes planning, directing and monitoring of all aspects related to project objectives, its cost, quality and scope (Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2013).

The skill of successful project management is a fundamental managerial component for every company. Regardless of the sector of the economy in which business operates, work is being performed in the series of projects. Therefore, having a well-coordinated suite of strictly defined projects is a tool that allows an organization to meet its objectives (Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2013).

The importance of project management for business world cannot be overstated. It plays a crucial role in the success of an enterprise in the dynamic and increasingly complex environment of modern businesses. Skilfully managed framework for handling projects allows a company to overcome organizational challenges and gain competitive advantages or stay competitive (Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2013). Adoption of specific project management practices and methods along with the implementation of appropriate organizational structures makes possible accomplishing the planed project objectives (Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2013).

Project management helps organizations carry out both large and small projects in a cost and time effective manner. Embracing expertise and oversight of project management allows companies to control spending and conduct business with maximum customer and stakeholder satisfaction.

Project Life Cycle

The project life cycle can be described as the set of sequential or overlapping phases of development of the project (Meredith, Mantel, & Shafer, 2015). A clear understanding of these phases makes possible successful guiding of projects from their initial stages to finish (Meredith et al., 2015). Life cycle stages and their number are dictated by the management needs of a particular organization, the area of the project application and its character. They can also vary depending on the industry involved and the technology being employed by the industry (Meredith et al., 2015).

Clearly defining project management life cycles helps the project manager narrow the scope of the project, focus on particular tasks, keep its objectives clear and finish the project within stated timeframes and budget constraints (Meredith et al., 2015). The most commonly used models of the project life cycle have been described by Thamhain and Adams (Meredith et al., 2015). Both of them divided project life cycle into four stages. For Thamhain those were project formation, buildup, main program and phase out (Meredith et al., 2015). Adams used slightly modified stages: conceptualization, planning, execution and termination (Meredith et al., 2015). Those two views or the project life cycle are not necessarily different. Both Thamhain’s and Adams’ model presuppose initial planning activities at the first stage of a project, where all basic objectives would be defined and fundamental preliminary planning undertaken (Meredith et al., 2015). The next stage of the project life cycle is typified by dividing the project into manageable areas and conducting detailed planning regarding time and cost resources (Meredith et al., 2015). During the execution or main program stage, the work goals are being accomplished and their implementation is being monitored. The final stage marks the completion of the project and post-project review. It is usually followed by allocation of project resources and personnel (Meredith et al., 2015).

Planning in the Project Life-Cycle

The planning phase of the project life cycle begins after preliminary conceptualization stage, that is, after being formally approved and financed. This phase requires research and critical analysis that would culminate in the development of the final project management plan (Meredith et al., 2015). The plan has to be organized in such a manner that it meets the overall objectives of the organization.

The purpose of the planning phase of the project life cycle is to facilitate accomplishment of project goals and objectives (Meredith et al., 2015). It must be focused on the ample research and the careful choice of smaller projects that would be strategically acceptable and aligned with the business requirements. Critical thinking and research have to be firmly kept in mind for the project to yield fruition (Meredith et al., 2015). The project manager must realize that even though the planning phase of the project life cycle is a creative endeavor it must be carried out in the systematic and straightforward way. This stage has to be used for dividing the project into smaller tasks and sub-tasks as well as brainstorming all possible complications that might hinder the process of project execution (Meredith et al., 2015).

Project planning is a systematic and iterative process requiring critical thinking and increasing complexity. It starts by organizing the work on the project, forming its budget, developing a schedule, organizing teams and appointing a project manager (Meredith et al., 2015). The final part of the project planning process must be a project plan.

Project Organization

The most common definition of a project organization is a functional structure created for coordination and implementation of the process of project execution (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007). It defines organizational hierarchy and outlines the interaction of all departments in a manner that would allow them to cooperate without disruption and conflict. It also outlines the relationships between members of different teams as well as project managers and external institutions or organizations (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007). One of the most important leadership decisions that might define the outcome of the project is to properly choose the form of the organizational structure (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007). The project manager has to carefully consider all unique characteristic of the mission as well as the organizational environment of the company and authority level so he would be able to make a right decision (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007).

The most commonly used types of organizational models are project-based organization and non-project based organization (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007). In the first model all company departments along with employees are structured around a particular project. Project-based organizations require a project manager for coordination of individual team working on a specific project without necessarily interacting with other teams (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007). Non-project-based organizations, on the other hand, employ a different approach and focus on the functional structure where different departments perform their specific roles (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007).

The project manager is also responsible for the risk identification which is an important component in the finance allocation. It would later be used for the construction of a financial model which would allow a sponsor to device successful negotiating strategy for the involvement of investors in the project (IMPACTO4DEV, 2007).

Project Team Building

The project team is an amalgamation of individuals with different backgrounds and level of expertise (Bubshait & Farooq, 2001). The process of creating a team involves a careful consideration of various barriers to the efficient functioning of a group. Those impediments might include differences in priorities and outlooks, lack of soft skills and power struggle among others (Bubshait & Farooq, 2001). There are two types of obstacles for the successful team building: internal and external. External barriers usually arise from the prior experiences, frames of references and knowledge of individual group members (Bubshait & Farooq, 2001). Internal obstacles related to the emerging team differences during the process of collaboration. Once, in my professional experience, I faced a challenge when attempting to engage in a productive team effort. However, after developing a skill of effective communication I was able to overcome that particular difficulty and managed to become a highly productive team member.

Successful project manager must understand all possible misunderstandings that might undermine effective team process. It is important to devise and implement a range of social activities that would be conducive to strengthening the culture of collaboration between individual team members and large units (Bubshait & Farooq, 2001). The focus must be on the joint teamwork that would produce the most effective collective effort and, as a result, group achievement.

Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure can be described as a categorization of project elements that would define the structure of the project (Norman, Brotherton, & Fried, 2008). This structure presupposes a decomposition of the project into the work packages for the accomplishment of the project objectives (Norman et al., 2008). The project manager breaks down the project into the set of levels, where “each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work” (Norman et al., 2008).

Once all necessary information regarding the deliverables has been gathered, the project manager starts decomposing it taking a top-down approach (Norman et al., 2008). The biggest tasks have to be divided into smaller items or subtasks (Norman et al., 2008). Then the project manager will organize all similar items of the project into packages. They will be treated as a sub-set of all work that must be performed and will constitute the work breakdown structure. Every individual package will be assigned a number and will be transferred to specific resources (Norman et al., 2008).

Project Management Software

Large integrated programs require the use of the project management software that would help an organization to plan, document, schedule and manage all aspects of project administration from start to finish (Arif, 2009). The main benefit of the use of such software is the reduction of costs of managing increasingly complex and large projects. Moreover, it also helps to arrange various deadlines of separate tasks and estimate their duration, which is an important part of the overall project planning (Arif, 2009). Another useful software tool provides overview information to the management on different levels allowing them to measure the progress of a project and the amount of effort spent on each task (Arif, 2009). Some software suites include tools for the sophisticated probability-based scheduling. The project management software makes the resource scheduling much easier allowing the project manager to efficiently manage and detail physical and financial resources, thus contributing to the better project management organization (Arif, 2009).

Conclusion

Project management plays a crucial role in the success of an organization in the dynamic and increasingly complex environment of the modern business world. Developing an effective project management strategy is a fundamental managerial component for every company, regardless of the sector of the economy in which it operates. A well-coordinated suite of strictly defined projects becomes a tool that allows an organization to meet its objectives. Another important component that helps the project management carry out both large and small projects in a cost and time effective manner is the adoption of specific project management practices and methods.

References

Arif, M. (2009). Project management software: Essential guide. Web.

Bubshait, A., & Farooq, G. (2001). Team building and project success. Cost Engineering, 41(7), 34-38.

IMPACTO4DEV. (2007). Project Management Organizational Structures. Web.

Kleinaltenkamp, M., Plinke, W., & Geiger, I. (2013). Business project management and marketing. New York, NY: Springer.

Larson, E., & Gray, C. (2014). Project management: The managerial process with MS project (6th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Education.

Meredith, J., Mantel, S., & Shafer, S. (2015). Project Management: A Managerial Approach (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Norman, E., Brotherton, S., & Fried, R. (2008). Work breakdown structures. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.