Let's Talk Project Management
Okay, so now you have a general idea of what constitutes a project and how it might come to land in your hands. But what exactly is project management and why is the term so popular today?
The producer of a television show has a project: twenty-six episodes in one season to be taped within an allotted budget and time frame. The producer is therefore responsible for pulling together the cast and crew; arranging for a sound studio, sets, and other locations; selecting theme music; and identifying all of the elements that go into making the program a reality. From finding the writers to watching his or her name roll by on the closing credits, the producer is managing the project. No matter what the size of the project, or scope, all of the players need to be in place, on the same page, and progress must be accounted for. As project manager, you are the captain of the ship, but just until the project is over. Remember, projects are specific, not open ended or ongoing like your daily job. An open-ended work situation is not a project.
What Makes Up the Project?
Project management means organizing, running, and bringing a project to its conclusion. It includes the following:
Defining the goal of the project
Determining the results you expect to be accomplished
Working within a budget
Setting up a schedule
Selecting your team and establishing individual roles
Making sure the tools and technology are in place
Monitoring ongoing progress
Maintaining team morale
Dealing with problems that arise
Keeping stakeholders abreast of your progress
Bringing the project to completion
Assessing what went right and what went wrong
Moving into a new home.
March 15th through July 31st
Defining the goal of the project:To move out of one home and move into another. Determining the results you expect to be accomplished:Everything is in its place and accounted for in the new home. Working within a budget:There is $5,000 allotted for the movers, moving supplies, required touchups in the old home, and new items for the new home. Setting up a schedule:The move date is a fixed date. Time must be allotted prior to the move date to ensure that everything is packed and ready to be moved. Time will be allotted to make the move as well as unpack everything. Even though the move is on a specific date, the schedule will account for time before and after the actual move date. There is also scheduling of the power, cable, telephone, changing billing addresses, etc. Selecting your team:The team may include just you or a few friends to assist or a moving company. The size (and scope) of the move can determine the best makeup of teams. Establishing the roles of each individual:Who is in charge of coordinating the utilities? Who will stay with the movers? Who is going to pack up the kitchen? Monitoring ongoing progress:Keep track of what is left to be done. Establish a checklist of companies to notify of the move and monitor how many are left. Establish targets for which room will be packed up when. Dealing with problems that arise:I have packed all of the utensils and now have nothing to eat dinner with! Bringing the project to completion:The move occurs. Assessing what went right and what went wrong:I promise I will never move again! But if I do, I will not use the moving company who just broke all of my china.
A rough example indeed, but you get the idea. As project manager, you know what is expected of you.
Project Management Today
Although projects can be found dating back hundreds and thousands of years, project management has become a buzzword in the modern business world. Improved technology has allowed and enabled a vast increase in the number of projects to be completed in the workplace. Projects that would once have taken months to complete now take weeks, and new projects follow on their heels. The latest software makes tracking multiple projects easier, and training courses in project management demonstrate new tricks of the trade. The booming economy of the late 1990s made it feasible, from an economic standpoint, for companies to engage in more new endeavors than ever before. New products, new locations, and enhanced services were all the byproducts of the increase in projects.
While a recession could mean a dip in big business projects, there will always be a need to complete projects successfully. If nothing else, project management can teach you how to see the big picture and organize all the smaller components of any significant task you undertake.