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Project management in the modern sense began in the early 1960s, although it has its
roots much further back in the latter years of the 19th century. The need for project
management was driven by businesses that realised the benefits of organising work
around projects and the critical need to communicate and co-ordinate work across
departments and professions. One of the first major uses of project management as we
know it today was to manage the United States space programme. The government,
military and corporate world have now adopted this practice. Here is the main definition
of what project management is:

1. Project management is no small task.

2. Project management has a definite beginning and end. It is not a continuous
3. Project management uses various tools to measure accomplishments and track
project tasks. These include Work Breakdown Structures, Gantt charts and PERT
4. Projects frequently need resources on an ad-hoc basis as opposed to organisations
that have only dedicated full-time positions.
5. Project management reduces risk and increases the chance of success.

Project management is often summarised in a triangle. The three most important factors
are time, cost and scope, commonly called the triple constraint. These form the vertices
with quality as a central theme.

1. Projects must be delivered on time.

2. Projects must be within cost.
3. Projects must be within scope.
4. Projects must meet customer quality requirements.

More recently, this has given way to a project management diamond, with time, cost,
scope and quality the four vertices and customer expectations as a central theme. No two
customers' expectations are the same so you must ask what their expectations are.
A project goes through six phases during its life:

1. Project Definition: Defining the goals, objectives and critical success factors for
the project.
2. Project Initiation: Everything that is needed to set-up the project before work can
3. Project Planning: Detailed plans of how the work will be carried out including
time, cost and resource estimates.
4. Project Execution: Doing the work to deliver the product, service or desired
5. Project Monitoring & Control: Ensuring that a project stays on track and taking
corrective action to ensure it does.
6. Project Closure: Formal acceptance of the deliverables and disbanding of all the
elements that were required to run the project.

The role of the project manager is one of great responsibility. It is the project manager's
job to direct, supervise and control the project from beginning to end. Project managers
should not carryout project work, managing the project is enough. Here are some of the
activities that must be undertaken:

1. The project manager must define the project, reduce it to a set of manageable
tasks, obtain appropriate resources and build a team to perform the work.
2. The project manager must set the final goal for the project and motivate his/her
team to complete the project on time.
3. The project manager must inform all stakeholders of progress on a regular basis.
4. The project manager must assess and monitor risks to the project and mitigate
5. No project ever goes exactly as planned, so project managers must learn to adapt
to and manage change.
A project manager must have a range of skills including:

People management (customers, suppliers, functional managers and project team)
Effective Communication (verbal and written)
Conflict Management
Contract management
Problem solving
Creative thinking
Time Management

"Project managers bear ultimate responsibility for making things happen. Traditionally,
they have carried out this role as mere implementers. To do their jobs they needed to
have basic administrative and technical competencies. Today they play a far broader role.
In addition to the traditional skills, they need to have business skills, customer relations
skills, and political skills. Psychologically, they must be results-oriented self-starters with
a high tolerance for ambiguity, because little is clear-cut in today's tumultuous business
environment. Shortcomings in any of these areas can lead to project failure." - J.
Davidson Frame

Many things can go wrong in project management. These things are often called barriers.
Here are some possible barriers:

1. Poor communication
2. Disagreement
3. Misunderstandings
4. Bad weather
5. Union strikes
6. Personality conflicts
7. Poor management
8. Poorly defined goals and objectives

A good project management discipline will not eliminate all risks, issues and surprises,
but will provide standard processes and procedures to deal with them and help prevent
the following:

1. Projects finishing late, exceeding budget or not meeting customer expectations.

2. Inconsistency between the processes and procedures used by projects managers,
leading to some being favoured more than others.
3. Successful projects, despite a lack of planning, achieved through high stress
levels, goodwill and significant amounts of overtime.
4. Project management seen as not adding value and as a waste of time and money.
5. Unforeseen internal and/or external events impacting the project.

Project management is about creating an environment and conditions in which a defined

goal or objective can be achieved in a controlled manner by a team of people.

Projects Tell a Story

If you don't like photography maybe you'll like stories. Projects, like a good story, have a
beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. Think back to any project you've managed or
worked on. Can you recall the beginning, middle, and a Hollywood ending?

The story for all projects is that they move through five process groups to get from start
to finish. Within each process group there are key activities which help a project move

Initiate a Project

This process group starts all the fun. In this group the business need for the project is
identified, some initial solutions may be proposed, and the project manager is selected.

The most important document to come out of this group is the project charter. The project
charter authorises the project work and assigns the project manager the power to
complete the project on behalf of the project sponsor. The project sponsor is typically
someone high enough in the organisational hierarchy to have power over the resources
that need to be involved in the project. (Having a weak sponsor for your project can also,
unfortunately, lead to cheap tequila.)

Planning the Project

In order to plan the project manager must know what the project will create. The project
manager and the project stakeholders - the people that have a stake in the project outcome
- have to determine what the desired future state is. A dreamy wish list won't work. The
project demands exact requirements. If you don't know what the project should create
how will you ever get there?

Once the project requirements have been agreed upon then the project manager, the
project team, and in some instances the project stakeholders will create a plan on how to
achieve the project objectives. This isn't a one-time process. Planning is an iterative
process that happens throughout the project duration. Planning is a cornerstone of project
management - skip planning or do it half-heartedly and the project is doomed.
Executing the Project

Ever hear the quip, "Plan your work and then work your plan?" This is the working part.
The executing process group is the project team executing the project work according to
plan - and the project manager working with any vendors that may be involved in the
execution or support of the deliverables needed for the project completion.

Controlling the Project

Control freaks need not apply. Controlling isn't about micromanaging - it's about
compliance with the project plan. There's balance between execution and control. The
project manager works with the project team, not over them, to ensure that they're doing
the work as it was planned. And if not? Then the project manager makes corrective
actions to get the project back in alignment with the project plan.

Controlling is also about balancing the time, cost, and scope constraints as the project
moves along. The project manager has to measure, compare, and adjust controls within
the project to ensure project success. If we do not measure we cannot improve.

Closing the Project

Aaah - closing. This process group centres on closing out the project accounts,
completing final, formal acceptance of the project deliverables, finalising any time, cost,
or quality reports, completing the project's lessons learned documentation, and finalising
any financial or procurement audits. The project manager may have to complete a review
of each team member, a review of the vendors, and a review of their own actions in the

Project closure also involves some rewards and recognition. For some, this means
bonuses, vacation time, or other rewards. If this isn't appropriate or available in your
organisation the project manager should at least verbally reward the project team for their
hard work and a job well-done (assuming the project was done well).

Putting it all Together

As you know projects are short-term endeavours to create a unique product or service.
Projects are out of the normal duties you do as part of your operations. Projects are
constrained by time, cost, and scope - and other constraints such as regulations,
resources, or even vendors.

The Iron Triangle of project management posits that all projects are constrained by time,
cost, and scope. If one angle of the project is out whack the whole project suffers.

Projects, and technically even project phases, move through five process groups:
initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. Each process group has key
activities that lend to a successful project. I believe the most important group is planning.
Without planning the project is destined for failure.

What we've discussed in this intro to project management is a good foundation for how
projects are to operate, their constraints, and a some challenges every project manager
faces. On top of this strong foundation there are nine knowledge areas which also affect a
project's success:

1. Project Scope Management

2. Project Time Management
3. Project Cost Management
4. Project Quality Management
5. Human Resources Management
6. Communications Management
7. Project Risk Management
8. Project Procurement Management
9. Project Integration Management

For each of these knowledge areas I've written an article which explains their
characteristics and how they contribute to your projects.

For now know this: projects are successful based on the ability of the project manager to
lead, manage, and motivate the project team to complete the project plan. The project
plan supports the vision the project manager has inherited from the project stakeholders.
If the project manager and the project stakeholder don't have the same vision of the
desired future state the project is doomed.

Projects fail at the beginning, not the end

Common misconceptions about Project Management

Here are some questions we hear frequently that demonstrate a misunderstanding of
project management:

What does the project manager do?

Why doesn't the project manager do some of the work?
Why don't we make our top specialist the project manager?
Why does the project manager need a support team?
Isn't this all an unnecessary overhead for the project?

Project management is a specialist discipline. In a well run project, there is a constant

array of management issues to deal with, as well as a challenging routine of project
management processes.
360o Responsibility of the Project Manager
The Project Manager is responsible for everything that is required to make the project a
success - whether directly or indirectly. It is not like a typical hierarchical line
management role. The Project Manager is at the centre of everything relating to the
project. Controlling the contributions of seniors and peers is just as important as
managing the work of the team.

The Project Manager needs to manage upwards - ensuring that the inverted
hierarchy comprising the organisation's leadership and the project sponsors are
doing all that is required to guarantee the success of the project.
The Project Manager is also the main focal point for liaison with other
departments, projects and initiatives within the organisation, taking into account
the needs and contributions of other internal groups.
The Project Manager is equally the main point of contact for aspects requiring co-
operation and co-ordination with external parties such as the project's suppliers
and contractors, customers, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and other third parties -
making sure everything is in place to guarantee success.
The Project Manager has direct responsibility for the activities of all project
participants, all project tasks and all deliverables.

Bear in mind that the Project Manager needs to achieve this without direct control over
the participants. The Project Manager will not have power over the leadership, nor the
internal and external contributors. Even in the project team there may be loaned staff,
part-timers and sub-contractors who will have their prime loyalties elsewhere.
The Project Management process
Project management is a complex undertaking, with many stages and processes. It should
follow the full business lifecycle, from definition and justification of the project, through
to delivering demonstrable benefits for the business.

The project manager's skills are essential from the beginning. The defined approach and
its business case will rely on a good understanding of the project process along with
reliable estimating and carefully considered planning.

As well as the project manager's prime objective to deliver the results, there are many
supporting disciplines and processes. These should ensure that the project will deliver a
valuable result without surprises. The foremost need is to monitor the anticipated level of
benefits and make adjustments to deliver optimum results. The leadership team should
also actively identify and manage risks, issues, changed requirements, quality standards,
plus a host of other side issues.

Not all these processes follow the traditional development lifecycle. In particular, it is
wrong to consider the project has finished when the new system goes live. That way you
will never know whether it delivered the planned benefits and you will probably not
achieve them! Management attention must be retained to deliver the benefits - through to
the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) and beyond. Some of the project management
processes will migrate into continuing line management processes to be used throughout
the life of the solution.