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just as importantly what it is not. People have been undertaking projects since the earliest days of organized human activity. The hunting parties of our prehistoric ancestors were projects for example; they were temporary undertakings directed at the goal of obtaining meat for the community. Large complex projects have also been with us for a long time. The pyramids and the Great Wall of China, were in their day of roughly the same dimensions as the Apollo Project to send man to the moon. We use the term project frequently in our daily conversations. A husband, for example may tell his wife, “My main project for this weekend is to straighten out the garage.” Going hunting, building pyramids, and fixing faucets all share certain features that make them projects.
A project has distinctive attributes, which distinguish it from ongoing work or business operations. Projects are temporary in nature. They are not an everyday business process and have definitive start dates and end dates. This characteristic is important because a large part of the project effort is dedicated to ensuring that the project is completed at the appointed time. To do this, schedules are created showing when tasks should begin and end. Projects can last minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years. Projects exist to bring about a product or service that hasn’t existed before. In this sense, a project is unique. Unique means that this is new, this has never been done before. Maybe it’s been done in a very similar fashion before but never exactly in this way. For example, Ford Motor Company is in the business of designing and assembling cars. Each model that Ford designs and produces can be considered a project. The models differ from each other in their features and are marketed to people with various needs. An SUV serves a different purpose and clientele than a luxury model. The design and marketing of these two models are unique projects. However the actual assembly of the cars is considered an operation, i.e., a repetitive process that is followed for most makes and models. In contrast with projects, operations are ongoing and repetitive. They involve work that is continuous without an ending date and you often repeat the same processes and produce the same results. The purpose of operations is to keep the organization functioning while the purpose of a project is to meet its goals and to conclude. Therefore, operations are ongoing while projects are unique and temporary. The project is completed when its goals and objectives are accomplished. It is these goals that drive the project and all the planning and implementation efforts
Page 2 of 17 are undertaken to achieve them. Sometimes projects end when it’s determined that the goals and objectives cannot be accomplished or when the product or service of the project is no longer needed and the project is cancelled. A formal definition of a projectThere are many written definitions of a project, however, all of them contain the key elements described above. For those looking for a formal definition of a project the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. The temporary nature of projects indicates a definite beginning and end. The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated because its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the need for the project no longer exists.
What is a Project?
Definition of a Project
○ Sequence of tasks Planned from beginning to end Bounded by time, resources, & required results ○ Defined outcome and "deliverables" ○ Deadline ○ Budget limits number of people, supplies, and capital
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Tasks vs Projects
○ Responding to email ○ Making coffee ○ Writing a letter to a prospect ○ Hooking up a printer ○ Producing a customer newsletter ○ Catering a party ○ Writing a book ○ Implementing a computer network
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Five Features of a Project
○ Defined beginning, end, schedule, and approach ○ Use resources specifically allocated to the work ○ End results have specific goals (time, cost, performance/quality) ○ Follows planned, organized approach ○ Usually involves a team of people
Resources (and Constraints)
○ Time ○ People
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○ Money ○ Equipment ○ Facilities
What Makes a Project Successful
○ Organized, well planned approach ○ Project Team Commitment ○ Balance among ○ Time ○ Resources
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○ Results ○ Customer Satisfaction
○ A recurring project ○ Happens predictably ○ New plan ○ New end result ○ New set of resources
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Review of Project Elements
○ Well defined goal ○ Expectation of time commitment ○ Underlying costs to achieve ○ Described plan of achievement ○ Listing of goal’s major sub-elements ○ Description of risks or unknown factors ○ Success measurement techniques
Additional Elements in Defining the Project
○ Funding sources and expectations
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○ Problem background information ○ Critical reference document ○ Project methodologies - management and operation ○ Required capital equipment ○ Necessary computer hardware & software
Critical Project Factors
○ Computer system as major technology component ○ New characteristic - requires research
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○ Narrow domain to fit imposed semester deadline ○ Commercial competition ○ Acceptable risk factors
Phases of a Project
○ Conceptualization ○ Feasibility ○ Preliminary planning ○ Detailed planning ○ Execution
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○ Testing ○ Termination
Phase 1: Initiating
○ Recognize the project should be done ○ Determine what the project should accomplish ○ Define the overall project goal Define general expectations of customers, management, or other stakeholders as appropriate
○ Define the general project scope ○ Select initial members of the project team
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Phase 2: Planning
○ Refining the project scope ○ Listing tasks and activities ○ Optimally Sequencing activities ○ Developing a working schedule and budget for assigning resources ○ Getting the plan approved by stakeholders
Phase 3 - Executing
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○ Leading the team ○ Meeting with team members ○ Communicating with stakeholders ○ Fire-fighting to resolve problems ○ Securing necessary resources to complete the project plan
Phase 4 - Controlling
○ Monitoring deviation from the plan ○ Taking corrective action to match actual progress with the plan
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○ Receiving and evaluating project changes requested ○ Rescheduling the project as necessary ○ Adapting resource levels as necessary ○ Changing the project scope ○ Returning to the planning stage
Phase 5 - Closing
○ Acknowledging achievement and results ○ Shutting down the operations and disbanding the team ○ Learning from the project experience
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○ Reviewing the project process and outcomes ○ Writing a final project report
• • • • • •
• • • •
Q1. What are the various characterstics of a Project? What is the importance of each characterstics? Give Examples. Ans.1 Characterstics of Project Mindset Some of the characterstics of Project mindset are the following:1.Time:- It is possible to improve the pace of the Project by reducing the time frame of the process. The mindset is normally to work a comfort mode by stretching the time limits. 2.Responsiveness:- It refers to quickness of response of an individual . The vibrancy and liveliness of an individual or an organization are proportional to its capability of evolving processes and structure for superior responsiveness time constant. 3.Information Sharing:- Information is power. Information is the master key to today’s business. Information sharing is the characterstic of the project mindset today. 4.Processes:- Project management lays emphasis on flexible processes. The major difference is a process and a system is in its capabilities of providing flexibility to different situational encounters. Flexible process greater capabilities of adaptability. 5.Structured Planning:- Structured Planning based on project management life cycle enables one to easily and conveniently work according to the Plan. It also involves efficient use of project resources and prioritization of the activities based on resource planning.
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The Project Life Cycle refers to a logical sequence of activities to accomplish the project’s goals or objectives. Regardless of scope or complexity, any project goes through a series of stages during its life. There is first an Initiation or Birth phase, in which the outputs and critical success factors are defined, followed by a Planning phase, characterized by breaking down the project into smaller parts/tasks, an Execution phase, in which the project plan is executed, and lastly a Closure or Exit phase, that marks the completion of the project. Project activities must be grouped into phases because by doing so, the project manager and the core team can efficiently plan and organize resources for each activity, and also objectively measure achievement of goals and justify their decisions to move ahead, correct, or terminate. It is of great importance to organize project phases into industry-specific project cycles. Why? Not only because each industry sector involves specific requirements, tasks, and procedures when it comes to projects, but also because different industry sectors have different needs for life cycle management methodology. And paying close attention to such details is the difference between doing things well and excelling as project managers. Diverse project management tools and methodologies prevail in the different project cycle phases. Let’s take a closer look at what’s important in each one of these stages: 1) Initiation In this first stage, the scope of the project is defined along with the approach to be taken to deliver the desired outputs. The project manager is appointed and in turn, he selects the team members based on their skills and experience. The most common tools or methodologies used in the initiation stage are Project Charter, Business Plan, Project Framework (or Overview), Business Case Justification, and Milestones Reviews. 2) Planning The second phase should include a detailed identification and assignment of each task until the end of the project. It should also include a risk analysis and a definition of a criteria for the successful completion of each deliverable. The governance process is defined, stake holders identified and reporting frequency and channels agreed. The most common tools or methodologies used in the planning stage are Business Plan and Milestones Reviews. 3) Execution and controlling The most important issue in this phase is to ensure project activities are properly executed and controlled. During the execution phase, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project's requirements. In product and system development, a design resulting in a specific set of product requirements is created. This convergence is measured by prototypes, testing, and
Page 16 of 17 reviews. As the execution phase progresses, groups across the organization become more deeply involved in planning for the final testing, production, and support. The most common tools or methodologies used in the execution phase are an update of Risk Analysis and Score Cards, in addition to Business Plan and Milestones Reviews. 4) Closure In this last stage, the project manager must ensure that the project is brought to its proper completion. The closure phase is characterized by a written formal project review report containing the following components: a formal acceptance of the final product by the client, Weighted Critical Measurements (matching the initial requirements specified by the client with the final delivered product), rewarding the team, a list of lessons learned, releasing project resources, and a formal project closure notification to higher management. No special tool or methodology is needed during the closure phase.
Common Barriers to Successful Projects - #22-27
By Raymond Posch
In this series, I am writing briefly about some barriers to project success that are fairly common in my experience. Here is the last set in my list: 22.Lack of resource management in the organization – Of course there is some kind of “resource management” in place, but if the organization has not stepped up to managing specialized people resources in effective ways for competing projects, there will be many issues like several mentioned in this list. 23.Not identifying and managing risks – All large and complex projects have risks which must be taken into account. Risks are known (identified) or unknown (unidentified) events that can have an impact. (They are usually negative impacts, although positive events/impacts can happen too, and they’re called opportunities.) Consideration must be given in the planning process to the events that are most likely to occur and/or that would have the largest impact. For those, the team should spend some time, based on probability of occurrence, of how to deal with the risk either beforehand or when the event occurs. Some of these risks, if appropriate, might justify bringing in some people (executives or specialists) from outside the core team to make recommendations. 24.Uncontrolled scope creep – This one is a classic, but it is a true and common problem. There is often a tendency of the requesters of projects – the customers, or possibly more often, the users of the product being developed – to realize during development that there are other features that should be added. The features might be absolute necessities, or they might be nice to
Page 17 of 17 have. But allowing more features to be added almost always expands the work, the schedule, and the cost. 25.Not informing management promptly when help is needed – If the project runs into problems that will definitely or potentially put it behind schedule and over budget by a significant amount, or at risk of not meeting the goals, then the PM must bring the matter to management attention. This is especially true, if the PM does not quickly identify a solution that can bring the project back “on track”, because then escalation and requests for help may be required, depending on exact circumstances. Failure to inform management (or the PMO if it is a point of control) that there is a problem is a serious mistake. Senior management needs to know when any important project is in trouble. 26.Lack of management response when help is requested – Just as serious, is the case where a project manager informs management that a project is in trouble and nothing is done. At the very least, there should be a meeting (or review) to determine 1) if the PM has correctly explored the options, and 2) whether any other solutions are possible from a higher, cross-project perspective. Of course, there are situations where the project in trouble is the lowest priority, or the factors involved are outside of the organization’s immediate control. But in any case, the PM should be given advice on how to proceed. 27.No monitoring (project reviews) and control outside of team – Monitoring and control means checking whether the project is staying reasonably “on plan”, and taking steps to adjust if necessary. It should be done at two levels: by the project manager and team, and by someone with appropriate authority outside of the team – usually executive management or a PMO (if one exists). Large complex projects should typically have formal outside reviews scheduled at certain key points in the project timeline. The full list of 27 barriers to success outlines a number of things that can negatively impact projects, resulting in schedule and budget overruns and potentially not achieving the expected or desired business value. So, studying these barriers to success may help you avoid the potential problems. Again, not all of the identified problems are controllable by the project manager, but the large majority of them are. The project manager must step up to the challenge.
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