This article will provide an overview of projects, and the relationship between portfolios, programs, and projects, an overview of the processes within project management and discuss it in the content of PMP certification and the PMBOK, the project management book of knowledge.
Many organizations today have a renewed interest in project management and its many benefits. Project management is used on all levels of the organization and is now seen as a valuable profession. Organizations have realized that project success relies on the knowledge, processes, skills, tools, and techniques that skilled project managers can bring to the project.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the governing body that issues project internationally recognized management certifications.
There are six different types of certifications that can be obtained after completing the required coursework, field experience, and passing the exam. These include the following:
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Program Management Professional (PgMP)
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
The successful completion of the PMP® examination will show employers that you are an internationally recognized project manager.
A project is a unique undertaking so the approach to managing projects must be different compared to normal operations. Projects are a temporary endeavors and have a clearly defined start and end date.
There are distinct differences between projects and the normal, daily operations of the organization. Characteristics of operations include tasks that are on-going and are usually in a continuous cycle, they have no end date as they are crucial to the daily functions of the organization.
Operations are also repetitive and the inputs and outputs are expected and routine. There is usually nothing unique about operational tasks. Projects, on the other hand are temporary endeavors; they have a definite beginning and end, they are also unique and involve a new undertaking for the organisation and are unfamiliar ground that the organization has not explored before.
Projects can include one or more individuals, one more departments, and even one or more organizations. They can create a variety of tangible or intangible products, deliverable, services, or results.
A few examples include the following:
- A product can be unique to the organisation and one that has never been produced before or could be an additional add-on to an existing product.
- It be focused on improving a service or an process for an organisation
- A project can be an improvement to an organization’s existing products or service lines or it can also be results-based, such as implementation of a computer system or producing an analysis or research document.
Some examples of projects from various industries are:
- A young couple hires a firm to design and build them a new house.
- A college campus upgrades its technology infrastructure to provide wireless Internet access.
- A Banks decides to implement a NEW Customer service computer application
- A group of musicians starts a company to help children develop their musical talents.
- A pharmaceutical company launches a new drug.
- A television network develops a system to allow viewers to vote for contestants and provide other feedback on programs.
- A government group develops a program to track child immunizations.
These various examples show the diversity of projects and the importance of project management across different industries.
In project management, there is a key relationship among portfolios, programs, and projects. As we have discussed, a project is a unique undertaking so the approach to managing projects must be different compared to operations.
Projects are temporary endeavors and have a clearly defined start and end date.
A program is a group of projects that are similar in scope, activities, and similar subprograms. The purpose of a program is to manage the projects in a coordinated way that would not be possible from managing them individually.
The portfolio includes all programs, projects, and subprograms that meet the strategic objective of the organization Programs and projects do not need to be related in order to be in the portfolio; they only requirement is to be related to the overall strategic objective(s) of the organization.
So what is project management? The simple definition is the management of projects. However, project management is much more than a simple definition. A more useful definition in understanding project management is the application of knowledge, tools, skill, and techniques to project activities in order to meet project requirements.
As defined by the PMBOK Guide, there are five distinct processes that projects go through.
These include the following:
- Monitoring and Controlling
During the Initiating Process, the need of the project is clearly defined. This is an important first step as the scope, budget, and timeframe will all be based on the need and expected outcome(s) of the project.
In the Initiating Process, the Return on Investment Analysis is also conducted. The organization will determine if the expected outcome of the project is worth the time, cost, and resources required to complete the project. Based on this information, the organization may determine whether to move forward with the project or stop the process. If the project continues, the final step in the Initiating Process will be to begin the development of the budget.
During the Planning Process, the project scope is defined, the budget is set, the timeframe is determined, and the project team is assembled. As the Planning Process moves forward, the project’s activities will be determined and the responsible project team members will be assigned their various tasks.
During the Executing Process, the actual tasks and activities of the project begin to be worked on and ultimately completed. The Monitoring and Controlling Process actually takes place alongside the Executing Process. During this process the various tasks and activities that are being executed are watched for any variations in terms of scope, time, and budget from the original plans of the project. If there are variations, corrective action may be necessary to keep the project from becoming a failure. During this Process, risk management is conducted to ensure that unforeseen interferences do not derail the project. Changes are likely to occur with any project, so project managers need to assess the various situations and make the necessary changes to keep the project moving forward.
The final process is the Closing Process. During the Closing Process, the project is completed and delivered to the end users.
The customer will review the project to determine if all scope requirements have been met. Once approval is obtained from the end users, the project is officially completed and all project-related documents, accounts, and activities are closed-out. The final task of the project team is to complete the “lessons learned.” This is the process of assessing and communicating what went well with the project and what could be done differently in the future to make similar projects go smoother.
To summarise,in this article we have focused on understanding what a project is and where it fit within programmes and portfolios