Projects, Programs, Tasks and Work Packages Differences

The Difference between Projects, Programs, Tasks, and Work Packages

For a better understanding of project management, it is necessary to understand the divergence between such notions project, work package, task, and program. The origin of all these terms is the military; therefore, the explanations are connected with the application of the terms in this sphere.

A program presupposes an unprecedentedly large long-term goal which is divided into several projects. A project is a temporary attempt devoted to designing an exclusive service or product. Each project is broken down into tasks. The latter is divided into work packages which are the groups of duties connected to achieving the project’s goals. Work packages are further divided into work units.

Projects are considered to be the most explicit ultimate tasks which the company needs to carry out. The important thing is that a project should be regarded as a unit. Thus, all projects share some characteristic features such as performance, importance, a limited life cycle, uniqueness, interdependencies, conflict, and resources. The project’s importance is the most significant feature as it allows the project to be implemented. If the company’s senior management team is persuaded that the project is crucial, they will agree to start it. On the contrary, if a project’s importance cannot be properly justified, it will not be put into action.

The Eight-Step Project Portfolio Management Process

Project Portfolio Process (PPP) unifies the company’s aims and strategies with the project. It has many functions, such as limiting the number of projects to pay proper attention to the most important ones, making a hierarchy of projects, choosing the ones which best alienate with the company’s vision, limiting those which are risky, adjusting the resources, and others.

PPP consists of eight steps:

  1. Choosing a project council. A crucial thing at this point is to involve senior management in the council. The PPP will not be successful without the council’s commitment.
  2. Determining the criteria and categories of a project. Identification of categories is needed for the relevant division of projects within a company. The criteria are delineated for establishing the best projects. The division into categories allows attaining the organization’s objectives.
  3. Collecting project data. This step incorporates such activities as keeping updated about the project information, verifying and validating it, employing the previous experience to make future assumptions, and finding out the project’s weaknesses.
  4. Evaluating the availability of resources. You should estimate the resource potential, taking into account the internal and external needs and the human factor.
  5. Narrowing the project and criteria requirements. In this step, it is necessary to reduce the number of projects by leaving out the ones which do not correspond to the requirements.
  6. Ranking the projects within categories. This step allows prioritizing the projects according to their advantages and the need for resources.
  7. Choosing the project to be financed and kept in reserve. You need to choose which projects to concentrate on and pay effort to provide funding for them.
  8. Putting the process into action. After finishing all the preceding steps, it is time to implement the project.

The Major Differences between Functional Managers and Project Managers

Unlike project managers who are responsible for a comprehensive amount of tasks and a big team of people, functional managers control only one of a company’s sections such as finance, manufacturing, or marketing. Functional managers are competent in one field of management and can deal with complications in this field. They are in charge of how the tasks are done, by whom, when, and using what resources.

A project manager also begins his/her career in a particular field, but later the responsibilities grow in number, and he/she needs to perform many tasks simultaneously. Thus, while the functional managers are better at analytical skills, project managers apply a systems approach.

The Three Main Requirements of Project Negotiation

Negotiation is the most favored method of dealing with conflicts. There are three main requirements for the negotiation process. First of all, conflicts should be resolved without causing destruction or losses. Secondly, negotiation methodology has to promote honesty. Finally, negotiation outcomes have to comply with the needs not only of the company but also of the individual.

The Major Tasks of a Project Management Office

Project management office performs the following tasks:

  • advancing and enhancing the system of project management;
  • evaluating the maturity of a company’s project management;
  • identifying, promoting, and guiding project managers;
  • assisting project managers with their administrative responsibilities;
  • analyzing downstream innovations and their effect on the projects;
  • organizing a risk-assessment process;
  • suggesting training and promoting project managers’ certification;
  • keeping the project chronicles;
  • proposing consulting help to the managers;
  • establishing whether a proposed project is beneficial for the company;
  • organizing the collection of data about project resources;
  • accumulating and distributing techniques and information which can enhance project management;
  • inspecting and regulating the company’s project risks;
  • acting as an example to achieve perfection in the company’s project management and stimulate consideration of the significance of projects within an organization;
  • performing project audits and analyzes the progress in connection with the company’s objectives;
  • being a basis for project managers’ communication with one another and project management office staff.

The Nine Key Elements of a Successful Project Charter

Common components of a project charter are the overview, statement of objectives, schedules, personnel, contractual requirements, general approach, risk management plan, resources, and assessment methods.

An overview is a concise summary of the project’s scope and goals. It encompasses a statement of purposes and their connection to the company’s vision, an account of the proposed managerial structure, and the main periods in the project’s plan.

The statement of objectives is an exhaustive explanation of the aims mentioned in the overview. The statement incorporates technical and competitive goals.

Schedules represent the milestones and plans of the project. They include the list of all tasks including their deadlines and people responsible for them.

The personnel category includes personnel demands: particular experience, necessary training, and security permissions.

Contractual requirements involve an exhaustive inventory of all the resources, conditions, arrangements, and demands connected with the project.

The general approach outlines the technical and managerial methods employed during the project. Technical analysis characterizes the available technologies which may be applied in the project. The managerial analysis is responsible for dealing with any irregularities in the course of work.

The risk management plan incorporates the probable obstacles and benefits.

The section of resources has two important constituents: budget and cost control.

Assessment methods include the ways of collecting, keeping, and controlling the project’s history.

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