The Main Principles of Project Management
Every project that is undertaken should follow the basic principles of project management. Projects may differ, one from the other, but the same governing principles hold fast. While a house may be constructed with bricks, and a tent be constructed with tarpaulin or cloth, the process of organizing and planning are along the same plane.
A project is characterized as having three main variables, namely Scope, Cost and Schedule (Time). This is known as the Triple Constraint or the Golden Triangle. Be it the construction of a house with bricks or a tent with cloth, the scope or the reason for the project being undertaken remains constant. In other words, the Scope is sacrosanct and holds fast for the mission statement of the project. It translates as the GOAL of any project. If the scope is changed, as in this example, if a wooden shack is built instead of a brick house, the entire project changes. It no longer remains ’a project to build a brick house' but rather becomes 'a project to build a wooden shack.' Cost and Time variables may differ as and how the forecast is, on the progress during the project life cycle, issues that are faced and risks that pose as hurdles.
When the triple constraint variables are in place, each plays a major role to the contribution of the end factor of the project; Quality. Quality in project terms means 'zero defects'. Every project manager, or project team has to work towards achieving a zero defect status be it for a service or a product.
Project team & stakeholders
The project team and stakeholders work together to achieve the end result of the project in the form of a service or a product. While stakeholders have a vested interest in a project and may act as merely sponsors or advisers, the project team headed by the project manager are the primary stakeholders in carrying out the project. This calls for team, team work and total co-ordination.
Project Planning and Implementation
Any project that is undertaken has to be well planned ahead of execution or implementation. This means that Cost and Schedule Evaluations are carried out, Resource planning and procurement is in order, manpower is arranged and contracts with suppliers are in place. Planning accounts for a great deal of the project action and a project without a plan is a failure right from the start.
Every project faces a considerable amount of risk. It may be in the form of cost, or time or even in the form of technical risks. Risks may be internal or external and may even arise from the scope. Manpower and resources may pose risks too. Therefore, it is imperative that a Risk Management plan begins from the very outset of the project. Risks have to be identified and assessed for their probability and impact on the project. While some risks may be identified from a list of expected risks, others may arise from any phase of the project life cycle unexpectedly. Some risks like Business Risks can result in being good for the project or create a loss, while pure risks only cause losses. Every project team should have back up plans and alternative measure should a risk be faced.
Documents, Logs and Registers
Every project should comprise of necessary paper work. Every part of the planning, implementation, risk identified and assessed, any issues that the project comes across or any form of communication between stakeholders, should be documented. Contracts should be formally created and closed in writing, handing over of duties to a second party should be in writing and likewise the closure of a project too should be in writing. Handing over of the project service or product to the project sponsor should also be in writing. Hence, it can easily be said that every area of the project has to be documented with forecasts and achievements, risks and issues, contracts and close outs.
Communication is a major aspect of any project. There are many forms of communication and communication media. The most common forms of communication are informal verbal, formal verbal, informal written and formal written. Communication media may be face to face speech, hand written, memos, letters, email, phoning, texting or messaging and / or circulars. Every idea or aspect of information that is to be understood by the project team should be communicated via proper channels.
Projects are complex undertakings. There is a great deal of planning and communication that takes place that a project manager has to organize meeting after meeting in many instances. It takes a great deal of leadership qualities to organize effect meetings for a project. Meetings have to be planned beforehand, the agenda outlined and the meeting members informed. Other aspects of a successful meeting are the arrangement of the venue and time for the meeting.
While these may be the basic principles of project management, a lot financial and time evaluations in terms of numerical values such as Earned Monetary Value Management are points to be kept in mind. While Risk Management may seem to only be the identification and assessment of risks, Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis have to be done on a deeper level. However, to be on the right track in carrying out a project, these basic principles of project management act as guidelines. If anyone of these aspects is compromised, the project can face many difficulties.
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