Project Management: Chapter1: Basic concepts

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August 18, 2017
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August 22, 2017

1.Project definition

1.1 Key characteristics

2. Classification projects

2.1 components of a project

3. Project Management

3.1 Groups

3.2 Features

4. Project life cycle

4.1 Initiation phase

4.2 Planning phase

4.3 Execution phase

4.4 Closure phase

5. Level of effort

5.1 Cost of changes

 

What is a Project?

A Project is a temporary, unique and progressive attempt or endeavor made to produce some kind of a tangible or intangible result (a unique product, service, benefit, competitive advantage, etc.). It usually includes a series of interrelated tasks that are planned for execution over a fixed period of time and within certain requirements and limitations such as cost, quality, performance, others.

Key Characteristics

As follows from the given definition, any project can be characterized by these characteristics

Temporary: 

  • This key characteristic means that every project has a finite start and a finite end.
  • The start is the time when the project is initiated and its concept is developed.
  • The end is reached when all objectives of the project have been met (or unmet if it’s obvious that the project cannot be completed – then it’s terminated).

Unique Deliverable(s): 

  • Any project aims to produce some deliverable(s) which can be a product, service, or some other result.
  • Deliverables should address a problem or need analyzed before project start.

Progressive Elaboration: 

  • With the progress of a project, continuous investigation and improvement become available, and all this allows producing more accurate and comprehensive plans.
  • This key characteristic means that the successive iterations of planning processes result in developing more effective solutions to progress and develop projects.

In addition to the listed characteristics, a conventional project is:

  • Purposeful as it has a rational and measurable purchase
  • Logical as it has a certain life-cycle
  • Structured as it has interdependencies between its tasks and activities
  • Conflict as it tries to solve a problem that creates some kind of conflict
  • Limited by available resources
  • Risk as it involves an element of risk

It is important to understand that a project is a non-routine, non-recurrent action, limited by time, sources and performance specifications, and designed to satisfy the needs of the client.

A project has a beginning and an end and is made up of multiple phases. It should therefore also be clear that the implementation of projects demands certain skills from people.

Examples:

  • Developing a new product or service
  • Constructing a building or facility
  • the relief effort after a natural disaster,
  • the expansion of sales into a new geographic market

Classification of Projects:

Following highlight the major classifications of a project.

Other ways of classifying projects are as follows.

  • Quantifiable and Non-Quantifiable projects
  • Sectoral Projects
  • Techno-Economic Projects
  • Investment Value Based
  • Factor intensive – Capital or Labor intensive
  • Services Projects

Components of a Project

Project management

It is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. It is the process of attaining project objectives in a stipulated time to produce quantified and qualified deliverables.

Project management processes fall into five groups:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

Managing a project typically includes, but is not limited to:

  • Integration
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Procurement
  • Human resources
  • Communications: Setting up, maintaining, and carrying out communications among stakeholders that are active, effective, and collaborative in nature;
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management: Addressing the various needs, concerns, and expectations of the stakeholders in planning and executing the project. Managing stakeholders towards meeting project requirements and creating project deliverables.

Features of Project Management

Project Charter:

  • This document translates the project sponsor’s business case into project objectives

 Tools & techniques:

  • Managing projects need special tools and techniques to process large data and manage multiple aspects of a project.
  • CPM analysis, Gantt chart, histograms are some techniques used in project management

Project Plan:

  • This document integrates the knowledge areas with individual plans to form one combined baseline plan.

Project Management Process:

  • This technique is used to manage multiple components of project sequence performed to achieve set of objectives.
  • This process is subdivided into following sub processes namely initiation, planning, execution and closing

Project Organization Structure:

  • Organization structure technique is used by the project manager to form temporary organization structure or project team that is designed as per the project needs which will help in coordination of independent work.

Project Methodology:

  • This methodology divides the project into multiple independent phases that produce an independent deliverable.

Project Life Cycle

Initiation Phase

  • The initiation phase is very important.
  • It is composed of defining the initial parameters, the concept is well defined and the requirement collection, analysis and data gathering are performed.

Planning Phase

  • The project planning phase is the next step after project initiation.
  • It consists of planning about the resources, staffing, infrastructure, stakeholder’s accountability and the plans to be executed.
  • Once the project is initiated the stakeholders who are accountable to take the responsibility are chosen and then the resource allocation under each stakeholder is performed.

Execution Phase

  • The third step is to execute the project with the help of plans, processes and the entire project management schedule.
  • Each milestone set during the project management plan is executed carefully with focus and emphasis on the quality of the work being delivered.

Closure Phase

  • The final step is project closing in which the entire activities and plans have been executed the project is now handed over to the client.
  • Support and service to the product is provided to do the operational tasks and run the completely deployed application.

Level of Effort

The level of effort is commonly expressed as man-hours or expenses/cost. This is different over the different stages of the project and is useful to guide the project manager as to how many hours to spend within each phase.

  • The project lifecycle is often presented with its associated level of effort.
  • The accumulated effort is the sum of the effort to date.
  • This shows a typical ‘S Curve’ profile similar to that used in the earned value calculation.

Level of Influence Vs Cost of Changes

As projects become more involved and complex,together with time pressures to shorten the implementation phase so the need to get the design right from the outset becomes more important .

Eg:

Consider a shipbuilding project, where the cost of changing the engine room arrangement at the concept and design phases would be the cost of design hours to reproducing a number of drawings.

Cost of changes

  • However a change at the implementation phase would not only incur design costs, but also the cost to remove machinery already fitted, together with the cost of new equipment.
  • Additional labour and may be penalties for late delivery.

How to reduce this cost of changes?

This cost profile encourage model testing and computer aided simulation where ideas and options can be developed and tested cost effectively before the implementation phase.

  • The stakeholder level of design influence, or potential to add value to the project reduces as the project progresses.
  • As the design develops, so design freezes must be imposed progressively for the design to progress.
  • For example, if the foundations are to change after the building has started, then not only design parameters but entire construction has to redesign.

This is clearly illustrated in the above figure where the level of influence and cost of changes are plotted against the project life-cycle. At the onset of the project the potential for adding value and cost savings are at their highest, but steadily reduce as the project progresses – loosely mirroring this curve are the associated cost of any changes.

The financial encouragement is therefore, to spend proportionally more time and effort during the initial phases to get the design right before implementation.

It therefore follows that the project manager should be appointed during these early phases to ensure that the maximum advantage is taken to influence the project effectively.

 

References

  1. Rory Burke: PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Planning and Control Techniques, Wiley publication, Fourth edition,2003

 

10 Comments

  1. sushant says:

    Following this and coming articles are enough for project management or I should maintain notes for this subject.

  2. RUPESH says:

    gr8 work……thanku so much sir……

  3. Vikash Kumar Choudhary says:

    It gave a pretty good understanding of the basics of the Project management…Thank you for this…eagerly waiting for chapter 2…

  4. Krishna Chaitanya says:

    Sir, where is chapter 2? I cannot find it in your website

  5. Raj says:

    Sir u are doing great work ..
    As I couldn’t attend any coaching ….I m getting confidence now….thnx sir…waiting for such awesome courses by u …and daily mcq as well..

  6. Raj says:

    Thanks sir
    Where is chapter 2?

  7. Venkateswaran says:

    I am the new one for ese(mechanical) 2019. following your website for general studies is enough? Pls reply

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