Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Project Management

Project management is a carefully planned and organized effort to accomplish a specific (and usually) one-time effort, for example, construct a building or implement a new computer system. Project management includes developing a project plan, which includes defining project goals and objectives, specifying tasks or how goals will be achieved, what resources are need, and associating budgets and timelines for completion. It also includes implementing the project plan, along with careful controls to stay on the "critical path", that is, to ensure the plan is being managed according to plan. Project management usually follows major phases (with various titles for these phases), including feasibility study, project planning, implementation, evaluation and support/maintenance. (Program planning is usually of a broader scope than project planning, but not always.)

Project management, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to describe, organize, oversee and control the various project processes.

Project Management is the ongoing process of directing and coordinating all the steps in the development of an information system. Effective project management is necessary throughout the entire systems development and implementation. The need for effective project management is most often recognized during system development.

The goal of project management is to produce an information system that is acceptable to its users and that is developed within the specified time frame and budget. The acceptability, deadline and budget criteria must all be met for a project to be considered completely successful. Failing to meet any one of these three criteria usually indicates a failure, at least in part, in project management.

According to the Project Management Institute the components of project management are organized into nine Project Management Knowledge Areas.

But perhaps project management can best be described in terms of the things that you need to do to successfully manage a project:

Project Integration Management:

Develop and manage a project plan. The processes required to ensure that elements of the project are properly coordinated. It consists of project plan development, project plan execution, and overall change control.

Project Scope Management:
Plan, define and manage project scope. The processes required to ensure that all the work required, and only the work required, is included to complete the project successfully. It consists of initiation, scope planning, scope definition, scope verification and scope change control.

Project Time Management:
Create a project schedule. The processes required to ensure the project is completed in a timely way. It consists of activity definition, activity sequencing, activity duration estimating, schedule development, and schedule control.

Project Cost Management:
Create plan resources and budget costs. The processes required to ensure the project is completed within he approved budget. It consists of resource planning, cost estimating, cost budgeting, and cost control.

Project Quality Management:
Develop a quality plan and carry out quality assurance and quality control activities. The processes required to ensure that the project satisfies the needs for which it was undertaken. It consists of quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control.

Project Human Resource Management:
Perform organizational planning, manage staff acquisitions and promote team development. The processes required to most effectively use the people involved in the project. It consists of organizational planning, staff acquisition, and team development.

Project Communications Management:
Develop a communications plan. The processes required to timely and appropriately generate, collect, disseminate, store, and ultimately dispose of project information. It consists of communications planning, information distribution, performance reporting, and administrative closure.

Project Risk Management:
Identify risks, prepare risk mitigation plans and execute contingency actions. The processes concerned with identifying, analyzing, and responding to project risk. It consists of risk identification, risk quantification, risk response development, and risk response control.

Project Procurement Management:
The processes required to acquire goods and services from outside the organization. It consists of procurement planning, solicitation planning, solicitation, source selection, contract administration, and contract closeout.

Activities of Project Manager:
A project manager is a facilitator. The ideal project manager does whatever it takes to ensure that the members of the software project team can do their work. This means working with management to ensure they provide the resources and support required as well as dealing with team issues that are negatively impacting a team's productivity. The project manager must possess a combination of skills including the ability to ask penetrating questions, identify unstated assumptions, and resolve personnel conflicts along with more systematic management skills.
The actions of a project manager should be almost unnoticeable and when a project is moving along smoothly people are sometimes tempted to question the need for a project manager. However, when you take the skilled project manager out of the mix, the project is much more likely to miss deadlines and exceed budgets.
The project manager is the one who is responsible for making decisions in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimized. Every decision made by the project manager should ideally be directly benefit the project.
On small projects, the project manager will likely deal directly with all members of the software development team. On larger projects, there is often a lead developer, lead graphic designer, lead analyst, etc. that report directly to the project manager.

Essential qualities of project manager:
a) Strong leadership ability
Leadership is getting things done through others; the project manager achieves the results through project team. He needs to inspire the project team members, needs to create a vision of the result. Project leadership requires a participative and conclusive leadership style, in which the project manager provides guidance and coaching to the project team. It also requires involvement and empowerment of the project team. He should motivate the team to achieve its objective.

b) Ability to develop people
The effective project manager has a commitment to the training and development of people working on the project. The project manager should establish an environment where people can learn from the tasks they perform and situations they experience. He should provide opportunities for learning and development by encouraging the individuals. A final way in which a project manager can develop people is by having them attend formal training sessions.

c)Excellent communication skills
Project managers must be good communicators. It’s important for the project manager to provide timely feedback to the team and customer. The project manager needs to communicate regularly with the project team, as well as with any subcontractor, the customer and their own company’s upper management. Effective and frequent communication is critical for keeping the project moving, identifying potential problems, and soliciting suggestions to improve project performance, keeping customer satisfaction and avoiding surprises.

d) Ability to handle stress
Project managers need to handle the stress that can arise from work situations. Stress is likely to be high when some critical problems arise. The project managers can improve their ability to handle stress by keeping physically fit through regular exercise and good nutrition, he can also organize stress relief activities playing outdoor games etc.

e)Good interpersonal skills
Good interpersonal depends on how good his oral and written communication. The project manager needs to establish clear expectations of the members of the project team so that everyone knows the importance their roles in the project. A project manager needs good interpersonal skills to try to influence the thinking and action of others, to deal with disagreement or divisiveness among the team members.

f)Problem-solving skills
A project manager should encourage project team to identify problems early and solve them. Team members should be asked to give suggestions to solve the problem. The project manager should then use analytical skills to evaluate the information and develop the optimal solution.
Developing skills needed to be a project manager:
Gain experience.
Seek out feed back from others.
Conduct a self-evaluation, and learn from your mistakes.
Interview project managers who have the skills you want to develop in yourself.
Participate in training programs, volunteer yourself in other work.

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