By Ismael D. Tabije
Project management is the discipline of defining and achieving finite objectives. The challenge of project management is the optimized integration and allocation of the inputs needed to meet those pre-defined objectives. The project, therefore, is a carefully selected set of activities chosen to use resources (time, money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, quality, risk, etc.) to meet the pre-defined objectives.
Project management is quite often the province and responsibility of an individual project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress and productive mutual interaction of various parties in such a way that likelihood of success is increased and overall risk of failure is reduced.
A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. This contrasts with processes, or operational management, which are permanent or semi-permanent functional work to create the same product or service over-and-over again. The management of these two systems is often very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy.
Project management tries to gain control over four variables. The first variable, time, is typically broken down for analytical purposes into the time required to complete the components of the project, which is then further broken down into the time required to complete each task contributing to the completion of each component. The second is the cost of developing a project which is dependent on several variables including (chiefly): cost of labor and materials, risk management, plant, equipment, and profit.
Another variable is scope, which is the overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be. And lastly, the risks which are potential points for failure. Most negative risks (or potential failures) can be resolved, given enough planning capabilities, time, and resources.
To properly control these variables a good project manager should have a depth of knowledge and experience in these four areas and in six other areas as well: integration, communication, human resources, quality assurance, schedule development, and procurement.
Customers and external organizations (such as government agencies and regulators) can dictate the extent of three variables: time, cost, and scope. The remaining variable (risk) is managed by the project team, ideally based on solid estimation and response planning techniques. Through a negotiation process among project stakeholders, an agreement defines the final objectives, in terms of time, cost, scope, and risk, usually in the form of a charter or contract.
The key to effective project management is project control. Each project should be assessed for the appropriate level of control needed to keep it on-track, on-time, and within budget. Regardless of the approach employed, careful consideration needs to be given to clarify surrounding project objectives, goals, and importantly, the roles and responsibilities of all participants and stakeholders.
Copyright 2007 Ismael D. Tabije
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