Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Project Management for Beginners

Back before I was released into the wild - at the edges of a forest called Freelancing - I was a project manager for one of the corporates. This is a sample piece I wrote for a professional article / essay company.


A successful Project Manager may be likened to a juggler. Aside from the obvious metaphor of keeping all the balls in the air, he or she can only achieve their objective because they know exactly where everything is at any given time.

While best practice is for a Project Manager to have professional training and qualifications, such as APMP or Prince2, there are some key principles which can be applied at any level.

The first of these is to understand the principal functions of the project management role, namely to monitor and control a project – through its life cycle – so as to achieve a successful delivery in terms of defined time, cost and quality parameters. In practice, the role may also demand the professional closure of a project prior to delivery, if those same parameters have been exceeded beyond stated tolerances, on the direction of the client or principal authority.

The relevant organisational structure for the lifecycle of the project, along with defined roles and a clear understanding of the processes required to achieve the project objectives are essential. In this way, everyone understands the scope of their individual role and the relationship between project roles, including the hierarchy for reporting and decision making. A failure to instigate such a plan at the outset of the project – and to secure concurrence from the entire project team – can be compared with building a house without the proper foundations.

The overall project plan will incorporate those elements above, as well as other component plans covering: Risk Management, Communication, Change Control as well as breakdown structures for Work, Cost and Product. A number of other plans may also be required

Ultimately, however, the project will stand or fall on the strength of - and alignment with - the Business Case. This document has many functions, setting out the purpose of the project, how its success will be measured and what benefits will be achieved. The Business Case is used to secure project funding but it is also a living document and will be referred to throughout the project's lifecycle. It may be subject to change because of financial, technological or political influences, any of which can have a profound impact on the project itself.

2 comments:

  1. I wrote lots of text-books at the beginning of my writing career to keep the wolf from the door and I think there are a lot of transferable skills between writing non-fiction and writing fiction, including planning, structuring, consistency and time-management.

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  2. That’s a good piece on project management. Although the tasks of project managers tend to be complicated, there are tools that help project managers greatly in the enormous task of ‘juggling the balls’. The technology behind this is called ‘cloud computing’ where all data and files are streamlined, so all parties involved in a project can easily collaborate and have access to any information they need.

    Valencia Paz

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