Project management

What is Project management?

Doing business in today's conditions requires constant reactions to changes in the external environment with changes to the company's structure and management. Most of these changes target activities of more than one department and therefore it is useful to use a project approach. A project is a one-off solution, or it is the implementation of more complex change in the company; which has its objectives, time schedules and budget. In the case of vastly complex changes, more than one parallel managed project can be defined along with these centrally managed programmes. These projects and programmes have to be managed differently from routine management by the various hierarchical structures.

Why is Project management important?

Each change in the state of management and operations and its implementation represents to a larger of lesser extent, an investment of company resources. Resources comprise of either the time of your employees whom are involved in the implementation, or the funds for related technologies and systems that will support the new model. Important also is the elapsed time of the implemented change, because this is an instable factor that has to be kept as short as possible. The aim of a management project/programme is to minimise the time and budget, providing that the objectives are met.
Another important characteristic of projects is the risk of their failure. Not achieving the project objectives means not only the wasting of resources, but also more importantly the loss of employee faith in any future changes (projects). Risk management is therefore an important part of project management.

What is Project management?

We can break down a project into four phases:

- Project definition;

- Project planning;

- Project delivery;

- Project completion and evaluation.

Project definition is a key part of any project. In particular, it is a definition of objectives that have to target the essence of change, and they must be realistic and measurable.
The project definition is also the addressing of the risk of failure, i.e. external factors that may cause its failure. Risk management is then the suggestion of a sequence of steps that will reduce or eliminate the risks.

Project planning follows on to the definition of objectives. A project plan is a list of specific steps, their logical links, their starting and ending dates and the allocation of human resources. There are various tools used for project planning such as MS Project. The next step is preparing a project budget which summarises all costs and expenses necessary for its completion. Part of the project planning is also setting up the project management structure, establishing a definition of the steering committee, the nomination of a project manager, members of project teams and the allocation of administrative support to project teams.

Project delivery is a permanent monitoring of the project status, the quality control of deliverables, the evaluation of discrepancies between the project plan and the actual status, and a control of expenses against the budget. Permanently monitored are also potential risks of failure, and if necessary, courses of action for their reduction are applied.

Project assessment is also an important part of project management, in particular as a source of experience for future projects. Assessed above all is the fulfilment of objectives, adherence to deadlines, the budget, and obviously team and individual performance. It is then appropriate to summarise conclusions from the evaluation in a report so as to form a basis for managing future projects.

What are the results of Project management?

The main result of a Project management is a consistent and comprehensive plan of actions, and its timing and financial requirements that lead to the required changes. Furthermore, it is a compilation of tools for monitoring the actual project status and its comparison against the strategy. Conclusions drawn from this monitoring form the basis for the decision making of responsible managers who are responsible for interventions into the implementation processes.

What benefits you can expect from Project management?
The benefits are self-explanatory as arising from the project management definition. They are:

- Achieving project objectives: with minimal resources and within the shortest elapsed time;

- Minimisation of risks associated to: project failure or the non-achievement of its objectives.

Capitalising on these benefits is only realistic if each involved employee knows exactly his/her specific role in the tasks, and if implementation of the change is taking place in an environment of trust, team work and the sharing of know-how amongst all participants.

Why engage a consultant?

A project manager is usually a person from within the company, who utilises knowledge about staff and the internal corporate environment. Nevertheless, there are two situations when it is beneficial to appoint an external consultant as a project manager:

- The company does not have previous experience with management of more complex projects and it does not have available tools for the project management;

- The company is performing more projects simultaneously and therefore there is a lack of experienced staff to manage them all.

My own experience

- Project manager of the implementation of an integrated information system;

- Manager of a great number of various consulting projects with different objectives within various industry sectors.