Project management is a term that has two words; project and; management. For a clear understanding and definition of project management, we must start by defining these two building words; According to Method123 (2003), a project is a unique endeavor that is set to achieve a set of deliverables within a specified time, resources among other constraints. Every project is unique in that it has its specific and unique goals to achieve within a defined timescale, limited resources, budget and associated risks. At the end of it all, each and every project is usually aimed at achieving a beneficial change. Management can be defined as the process of organizing, planning, directing, controlling and coordinating a group of activities with the aim of achieving a set of objectives (Method123, 2003).
Therefore, project management is an integrated process of applying knowledge, skills, techniques and tools to a given project with the objective of achieving the set requirements of the project. It is an interrelated group of processes that are aimed at the project success. In the long run, all processes and activities within the project are aimed at managing the input as well as producing outputs. For a project to be successful, a number of issues must be looked into; the scope of the project, schedule or timeline and; the budget. The scope of the project must be clearly defined. This helps to avoid the possibility of conflict of interests. The schedule of the project should allow achievement of all the objectives of the project without straining. Moreover, the project should employ a justifiable budget which doesn’t involve a lot of the company’s resources.
Project management has been employed in a number of projects due to its numerous advantages;
- It enhances customer satisfaction; a project that has been done within its schedule and budget leaves the customer fully satisfied. For this reason, the customer won’t mind coming back should he/she have another project to be managed since he/she would have built confidence in you as a manager. Therefore, this will also intensify on the relationship of the project manager and the client.
- Gives the room for flexibility; proper project management enables one to map the strategy visa-vis the objectives. However, should you think of a better and smarter strategy along the way, you can still incorporate it as a project manager. Additionally, project management also gives room for price adjustment, but to some extent.
- Increases risk assessment; proper project management means bringing all the stakeholders on board in decision making. When all these team players are brought on board, there will be a successful assessment of all the potential risks.
- Improves the quality; as a result of efficiency of the management process, there will be a corresponding value of the input against the output of the project.
- Ensures efficiency since it will provide a roadmap that is easy to follow until project completion. It gives the defined track of activities that would lead to achievement of the ultimate objective(s).
In addition to the above advantages, proper and successful project management also ensures reduced chances of project failure, clear job definition, simplicity of the whole project and effective communication (Method123, 2003).
There are a number of negative impacts of not using project management in running a project. For instance, when you don’t have a project manager while developing an IT suite for your business, the probability of the project failing before completion is very high. Since there would be no stipulated and clear hierarchy, there would be a lot of conflicts among the stakeholders and implementers (Method123, 2003). . It is at this point that everyone would want to manage the project due to its accrued benefits. At some instances, there will be a possibility of mismanagement of resources since there will be no person to oversee the entire process of how the resources are being used in the project (Method123, 2003). . Additionally, the project would fail to achieve its goal(s) within the stipulated time due to poor planning and a lot of time wasting. Roy Keane once put it “failure to plan is planning to fail.” A number of projects have failed since they didn’t have a proper project management team and, therefore, there was no proper planning and supervision (Method123, 2003). .
At this point, it is quite clear why must project management in any project. For the development of the IT suite to succeed, a working project management team must be employed. Otherwise, the project would either fail or be ineffective.
Project Management Processes
Project management processes mean a series of actions employed in the project so as to achieve the stipulated results. They are majorly concerned with description and organization of all the activities of the entire project. These projects can be categorized as;
- Initiating processes; these are those processes that mark the genesis of the project. In the case of development of the IT suite, this would include the formulation of the idea of developing the suite.
- Planning processes; these are the most vital processes in the life cycle of any project. Proper planning process promises the stakeholders a success of the entire project. For the implementation of the IT suite project, a rigorous process of planning needs to be employed, with all the stakeholders being brought on board to reason out the viable options and strategies.
- Execution processes; these entails coordination of personnel and resources so as to carry out the initially planned strategies and activities.
- Controlling processes; these are the processes that ensure that the project’s objectives and goals have been met. They would be processes such as auditing, monitoring and evaluation.
- Closing processes; these are the processes that formally mark the end of the project. They include briefing the stakeholders about the success, challenges and the expenditure of the entire project.
The above-listed process work in an integrated manner to lead to the ultimate outcome(s) of any project (Method123, 2003). . For instance, planning provides the execution process with a documented plan for implementation while execution would lead to controlling processes and so on and so forth. Additionally, these processes aren’t one time or discrete processes. They are however overlapping. Within each group, these processes are linked by their inputs, techniques, tools and output (Method123, 2003).
These are those processes that are concerned with specification and creation of the project product. The above processes at times will have to overlap with the project management processes. The product-oriented processes are defined by the life cycle of the project, and they vary by the area of application. The project life cycle, which normally has four phases; 1. Project initiation, 2. Planning, 3. Execution and; 4. Closure or termination (Method123, 2003).
- Project initiation. This is the phase of identification of the problem or opportunity, followed by feasibility study. This would thereafter lead to the formulation of a possible solution or strategies and appointment of the project manager. Upon the formation of the project management team, approval would be sought to move into the subsequent phase.
- Planning the phase. This is the stage that follows the initiation and involves; resource planning, financial planning, quality planning, risk planning, procurement planning and; communication planning. At this point, the project has been fully planned and, therefore, ready for execution.
- Execution phase. After planning, the next stage involves implementation and execution of the pre-initiated activities. It involves controlling all the deliverables as well as risk assessment, identification of changes and assessment of the qualities of the deliverables. All these are carried out in an attempt of satisfying the client’s or customer’s requirements. Upon acceptance by the clients, the project will have successfully accomplished its goal and, therefore, its closure would follow.
- Project closure. This is the ultimate phase of the project life cycle which involves dissipating the final deliverables to the stakeholder as well as communicating the closure of the project. This would be accompanied with reviewing of the success of the project while listing the lessons learnt from the project (Method123, 2003).
The Waterfall vs. the Incremental Models of SDLC
The Waterfall Model was a proposal of Royce in 1970. It is a sequential SDLC model with various phases such as requirement analysis, design, testing, coding and; implementation. These phases don’t allow for repetition, and a phase doesn’t move to the next phase until the phase is completed. The waterfall model is usually used in projects that subsequently flow downwards like a waterfall. The commonly employed phases are; 1. Conception, 2. Initiation, 3. Analysis, 4. Design, 5. Construction, 6. Testing, 7. Implementation and; 8. Maintenance (Vishwas and Satao, 2012). This is the widely used and referred model by a number of software development companies. The process/model strives to better the how to cope with organizations’ needs. It also defines the genesis and the end time of the project and therefore timesaving. Additionally, with this model, it’s quite easy to detect errors at early stages (Vishwas and Satao, 2012). The model can also be effectively used when team members are spread in different locations. It is also the cheapest of all the models. However, this model doesn’t give room for going back and making adjustments and rectifications. It, therefore, means that a completed stage is locked and therefore no adjustment can be made on it. Another problem with the waterfall method is that it’s quite hard to estimate the required time (Vishwas and Satao, 2012).
The other model of SDLC is the Incremental Model, which is a modification of the Waterfall Model. It employs the phases of the Waterfall model, but in a manner that would lead to any increment is employed in the subsequent phase. Every increment calls for the client’s review before proceeding to the next (Vishwas and Satao, 2012). This gradually enhances the product’s functionality. It can be used when the client wants to get the product circulating in markets early enough, or when a new technology is to be used. The incremental model is recommended for projects that involve high-risk goals. This model has a number of pros such as; low initial delivery cost; ensures flexibility; it’s quicker; it’s easy to manage any risks and; customer’s/client’s reviews are incorporated after every stage (Vishwas and Satao, 2012). However, when one employs this model in his/her project, he is likely to meet its cons, which include; higher total cost than the Waterfall Model and; failure of the whole project in case of poor planning and design (Vishwas and Satao, 2012).
Work Breakdown Structure
In project management, work breakdown structure is a tool used for grouping and classifying project work elements in a graphical display. It mainly helps in organizing and subdividing the total work into manageable portions (US Department of Energy, 2013). Considering the project of IT suite development, the project manager will effectively use the WBS in delegating duties departmentally. When well used, the WBS effectively identifies, schedules and budgets for all the activities of the project. It is, therefore, clear that WBS contains the scope baseline for any effective project implementation (US Department of Energy, 2013).
Cost estimating methodologies
Cost estimating methodologies can be categorized into two main groups as qualitative and quantitative.
- Qualitative cost estimating methodologies are those that are based on comparative analysis of the new product with the already existing one. The similarities of the new and the preexisting products are identified in an attempt of incorporating the old ideas and data into a new product. It greatly helps in reducing chances of incurring any additional costs. This methodology mainly employs use of past manufacturing knowledge and design of the old product to estimate the cost of a new one. Qualitative methodologies are further categorized as analogical and intuitive techniques (Vishwas and Satao, 2012).
- On the other hand, quantitative techniques are based on detailed analysis of the features, design and manufacturing process (es) of a given product. Quantitative doesn’t give room for relying on the past data or records. The costs are either calculated as the sum of the elementary units or using analytical functions of some variables. Hence, this method additionally gives room for evaluation and innovative designing (Vishwas and Satao, 2012).
Significance of project risk management in early problem detection
The mastery of the potential risks in any project is a clear distinction of the past from the modern times. It’s for this reason that most project managers have employed effective risk management as a way of pointing out the potential problems that may accompany the project. The risk management is majorly done by reviewing the success of the previously done jobs visa-vis the challenges it faced. This forms the basis of identifying the possible early symptoms of any problem that may arise. At early stage of risk management, the managers should be able to evaluate and detect if the potential problems are severe enough for termination of the project or not.
The virtual team
A virtual team is a group of geographically dispersed team members who work across boundaries, space and time and are linked by webs of communication in order to achieve a specific goal. Inasmuch as it’s cheap to run this kind of team premise-wise, it has a number of challenges such as lack of trust, likelihood of breakdown of communication as well as reduced efficiency of conflict management. This kind of team also faces a challenge of cultural barriers (Ebrahim et al., 2009). However, these challenges can be overcome by holding frequent face-to-face meetings; posting comprehensive profiles of the team members on the online directory; having an effective moderation channel; proper communication and avoiding multitasking during the video call session.
Adnan Niazi and Jian S. Dai. (2006). Product Cost Estimation: Technique Classification and Methodology Review. London: University of London.
Ebrahim, A., Shamsuddin, A. & Taha, Z. (2009). Virtual Teams: A Literature
Review. Australia Journal of Basic and Applied Science, 3(3), 2653-2669.
Method123. (2003). Project Management Guidebook. Chicago: Royal.
US Department of Energy, O. o. (2013). Work Breakdown Structure . washington DC: Energy Dept. Publishers.
Vishwas Massey and Satao K. J. (2012). Comparing Various SDLC Models And The New Proposed Model on the Basis of Available Methodology. Bama: Rungta College.