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Project management can be defined as the application of skills, techniques, and knowledge in order to successfully complete a given project (Kerzner, 2017). It entails managing, planning, and organizing various project components to achieve the desired goals within the specified timeline. Therefore, project management is the entire process of controlling and directing the project activities from the start to the end. Normally, project management is conducted in phases. The five common phases include project conception and initiation, project definition and planning, project execution, project performance and control, and finally project close (Burke, 2013). Usually, the phases should be carried out systematically in good coordination to completion. The existence of phases makes project management easy to supervise, evaluate, and reward.
An Integrated Approach in Managing Projects
Generally, an integrated project management is the using of a combination of various project management methodologies to ensure proper coordination of the project elements. Usually, the integrated approach is used in organization scale project where many stakeholders are involved. Certainly, approach ensures that a project is implemented with the full knowledge and involvement of all the organization’s departments (Hill et al, 2014). For instance, using the integrated project management approach, the activities of the finance department are made public to other departments such as supply, production and sales. At the same time, the activities and decisions of these departments are made known to each other. Therefore, integrated project management involves the collecting, understanding, and sharing implementation operations across an organization.
Integrated project management comprises of six major components (Hill et al, 2014). The first component is known as project charter. The charter is a statement illustrating the scope, participants and the objectives of the project. The second component is the project scope. This is a document which outlines the broad goals and the specific targets of a project. It defines the specific milestones intended for achievement at every stage. The third stage entails developing project management plan which is the overall document containing the other documents. Fourth, the project execution stage which explains how individual components of the project are to be carried out. The fifth component is the project monitoring which measures the performance of the project. Last is the change control which is a documented with guidance on changes on the project during execution.
Defining the Project
Defining a project entails considering the scope management. This is where the deliverables and the processes for realizing them are defined (Agger et al., 2017). Normally, the scope definition should clearly outline the elements to be included and those to be excluded. Through the entire project life, the scope should be carefully addressed to ensure that all the work which determines the deliverables of the project are well undertaken. Normally, the scope level is defined and documented for time to time reference. This enables the project manager to keep every activity under implementation in check (Agger et al., 2017). Mostly, the scope of the project increases in detail as the project execution progresses. Therefore, the scope management should be flexible enough to contain arising events.
When defining the project, there are six important factors to be considered (Davis, 2014). Firstly, stakeholders in the project should agree on the contents of the scope so as to eliminate assumptions. Secondly, the management team should not rush into planning without clear knowledge of the scope. Jumping into planning prior to understanding leads to ineffective plans. Thirdly, a work breakdown structure should be design to allow every person experienced in the project a chance to participate. Fourth, the timeline of each work in the scope should be well defined to increase the chances of punctuality and success (Davis, 2014). Fifth, a responsibility assignment matrix should be developed to avoid possible future distraction during planning and execution stages. Lastly, the distinction between programs and processes should be defined such that each project lead understands the role under his title. A careful consideration of the steps leads to a well-defined project.
Managing Project Risks
In project management, risks are uncertainties which can be either threats or opportunities (Kendrick, 2015). Therefore, project risks can have negative impact such as delays and higher costs or positive effects such as timely delivery. As such, risk management is normally concerned with avoiding threats to salvage any possibility of project failure. Consequently, risk management can be described as the procedure of mitigating the severity of financial loss due to project risks (Kendrick, 2015). To achieve the objective, the risk manager is obligated to identify any potential risks any to determine the associated loss. Next, the manager should utilize the available control measures to reduce the expected financial loss.
For effective risk management, a number of stakeholders should be involved such as the risk management team, the project team, the customers, external experts and other project managers. Throughout the phases of the project execution, the risk manager should conduct risk identification. Upon identification, all the risks must be checked until the entire project comes to a close. Normally, the risk management process involves four basic steps which include risk identification, risk analysis, risk response and risk controlling (Burke, 2013). The various risk factors may be external such as political climate, demand fluctuation, and social trends. Sometimes the factors are internal such as technology system, leadership, and staff capability. Through proper analysis, the risk management analysis can device the right response and control the risk effects.
Resource scheduling can be defined as the process of assigning resources to particular tasks of a project (Mederith & Mantel, 2011). Usually, resources are scheduled according to availability and depending on the priority of the project phase. In most cases, the availability of resources determines the deadline of projects by allowing managers to set timelines. For successful resource scheduling, certain five scheduling steps applies (Pinto, 2015). Firstly, the project manager should list down all the tasks to be completed. The listing process should be done with an assumption of the desired period and effort. Next, constrains associated with each task should be identified. Such constrains may be in the form of skills, task duration, or execution location.
Thirdly, the amount and type of resources required for every task should be clearly stated. The resources can be expressed in form of machines, man power, parts, raw materials and working hours. Fourth, the management should work to control the future resource capacity for project completion. For instance, it should be decided whether there shall be necessity to increase work force in the future or to maintain the available capacity. Lastly, the available resources should be matched with the relevant task. At this stage, the manager should specify the schedule by defining the extent of each resource per given task. Additionally, adequate forecasting is needed to enable identification of bottlenecks.
Leadership: Being an effective Project Manager
The project manager is the leader of the entire project team and the stakeholders involved. The roles of the manger consist of planning, coordinating, supervising, and evaluating the project milestones (Fisher, 2011). To be an effective project manager, one must possess certain leadership qualities. Firstly, a project manager should have good communication skills. With such skills, the manager can reach all people with elaborate explanation of goals and tasks. Secondly, a project manager should have effective leadership skills such as the ability to motivate and inspire the team towards the intended objective. Thirdly, a project leader should be a good decision maker. Normally, projects encounter situations where sound decisions have to be made to avoid losses. Fourth, the manager should have technical experience in the project subject so as to understand all the issues related to realizing the project goals. Fifth, a project manager should have team building skills so as to create cohesion in throughout the projects lifetime. Lastly, a project manager should be temperate, cool under pressure and exhibit high level competence (Fisher, 2011).
Managing Project Teams
For optimum project performance, the project team must be handled and directed effectively. Normally, the team is composed of people whose performance varies depending on various internal or external conditions. Therefore, the project manager has the task of unifying the diverse category of people to one purpose of completing a project. Effective team management can be successfully achieved through five key steps (Fuller, 2017). The first step is to establish a project management team consisting of all the stakeholders. Such a team will assist with the handling of internal and external matters around the project. Secondly, effective communication should be facilitated within the project team to eliminate confusions and to equip everyone with the requirements of the project. Thirdly, the project manager should take the initiative to encourage collaboration within the team so that the team can collectively achieve the project purpose. Fourth, the project manager should be ready to accept the problems within the team and provide adequate solutions. Lastly, the efforts and performance of the team members should be appreciated and reward accordingly to boost their morale.
Project closure is the final step of any project. During this stage, the project management team may be involved in making payments, documentation, and handing over a project to the wowner (Pinto, 2015). Like any other project phase, close involves certain steps such as confirming the completion of every task as per design, procurement closure through final payments, and gaining customer’s formal acceptance of the project. Additionally, closure process involves finalizing project report, indexing and archiving of records. Finally, the project product is surrendered for customer usage and the project team can celebrate the success (Kerzner, 2017).
Effective project management is the determining factor of the success of any product. Therefore, project managers must put into consideration all the necessary factors to avoid chances of failure (Kerzner, 2017). The management process entails utilization of integrated approach which ensures that all the sectors in the entire organization are presented and coordinated accordingly in the project lifetime. Additionally, the project scope should be effectively defined to avoid making assumptions during planning and implementation. Certainly, a project must be clear in what is included and what is not included to as to maintain every phase within desired boundaries. Moreover, project management comprises risk management and resource scheduling which are essential for minimizing losses and reducing wastage. Ultimately, a project manager must be a good leader in order to manage the project team effectively for successful outcome.
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