An overview of Project Management (regardless of methodology)

I know, after you read this article you can say, this is basically what the PMBoK preaches, especially if you are a Scrum freak (no offences, I found Scrum fascinating too), however, Agile/Scrum if much more focused in software development and most of times not complete enough for management of large and complex projects.

As an example, I’m currently working in a project that involves, scope definition, deliverables estimation, software development, acquisition of hardware, acquisition of telecom services, hardware setup, implementation, user training, monitoring, etc.

In other words it’s a complex project that involves a new technology within the company and most important, a new culture for everyone involved.

What I want to say is that for the software development phases, Scrum works perfectly (and in my opinion even better than conventional PMBoK management) but in the whole project I don’t feel safe and consequently I can’t make stakeholders feel comfortable to approve a millionaire project without all the documentation that and analysis PMBoK methodology provides.

I also know that many people will disagree and may say that I’m stupid doing this but what I use to do in this case is mix the methodologies, I get all the best of Scrum for the software development phases but use the good and old PMBoK recommendations for the complete project expecting to keep everything on track till the end of the project.

Ok, if you don’t give a crap of what I do or what I’m working on, let’s stop the talk and go to the article, good read!

The traditional triple constraints

The Project Management TriangleLike any human undertaking, projects need to be performed and delivered under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints have been listed as “scope,” “time,” and “cost” (Chatfield, Carl. “A short course in project management“, Microsoft. ). These are also referred to as the “Project Management Triangle,” where each side represents a constraint. One side of the triangle cannot be changed without affecting the others. A further refinement of the constraints separates product “quality” or “performance” from scope, and turns quality into a fourth constraint.

The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project’s end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

The discipline of project management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team (not just the project manager) to organize their work to meet these constraints.

Another approach to project management is to consider the three constraints as finance, time and human resources. If you need to finish a job in a shorter time, you can throw more people at the problem, which in turn will raise the cost of the project, unless by doing this task quicker we will reduce costs elsewhere in the project by an equal amount.
Project management activities

Project management is composed of several different types of activities such as:

1. Analysis and design of objectives and events
2. Planning the work according to the objectives
3. Assessing and controlling risk (or Risk Management)
4. Estimating resources
5. Allocation of resources
6. Organizing the work
7. Acquiring human and material resources
8. Assigning tasks
9. Directing activities
10. Controlling project execution
11. Tracking and reporting progress (Management information system)
12. Analyzing the results based on the facts achieved
13. Defining the products of the project
14. Forecasting future trends in the project
15. Quality Management
16. Issues management
17. Issue solving
18. Defect prevention
19. Identifying, managing & controlling changes
20. Project closure (and project debrief)
21. Communicating to stakeholders
22. Increasing / decreasing a company’s workers

Project objectives

Project objectives define target status at the end of the project, reaching of which is considered necessary for the achievement of planned benefits. They can be formulated as S.M.A.R.T.

* Specific,
* Measurable (or at least evaluable) achievement,
* Achievable (recently Acceptable is used regularly as well),
* Relevant and
* Time terminated (bounded).

The evaluation (measurement) occurs at the project closure. However a continuous guard on the project progress should be kept by monitoring and evaluating.
Project control variables

Project Management tries to gain control over variables such as risk:

Risk – Potential points of failure: Most negative risks (or potential failures) can be overcome or resolved, given enough planning capabilities, time, and resources. According to some definitions (including PMBOK Third Edition) risk can also be categorized as “positive–” meaning that there is a potential opportunity, e.g., complete the project faster than expected.

There are several approaches that can be taken to managing project activities including agile, interactive, incremental, and phased approaches.

Regardless of the approach employed, careful consideration needs to be given to clarify surrounding project objectives, goals, and importantly, the roles and responsibilities of all participants and stakeholders.
The traditional approach

Project Management (phases).png

Typical development phases of a project

A traditional phased approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. In the traditional approach, we can distinguish 5 components of a project (4 stages plus control) in the development of a project:

1. project initiation stage;
2. project planning or design stage;
3. project execution or production stage;
4. project monitoring and controlling systems;
5. project completion stage.

Not all the projects will visit every stage as projects can be terminated before they reach completion. Some projects probably don’t have the planning and/or the monitoring. Some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.


One Response to An overview of Project Management (regardless of methodology)

  1. PM Hut says:

    Scrum is mainly used (and this is highly debatable) in low budget projects (I think yours fall in that category, a million dollar project isn’t that much these days). The important thing probably is to get your stakeholders used it when they’re used to traditional waterfall.

    I love telecom projects (yours look like it has a lot to do with it). I’ve been involved in creating the IT side of a mobile Telecom company from scratch. It was extremely challenging since I lacked the experience back then.

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