Nowadays such concepts as project, project manager and project management have become rather widely used in business to describe a set of special activities, an occupation or a process. Despite of the fact that the majority of people have heard about these three notions, not everybody understands their meanings. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to relate the notion pf “project” with the notion of “management”. It is clear that project management is a process, but what kind of process is it? What steps does a person who manages the project (a project manager) has to take in order to reach a success? All of this may remain unclear unless a person faces project management very closely.
The main goal of delivering the speech is to give clear and concise explanation of the concept project management. Also, it is necessary to determine what the steps of project management are and what functions should be performed by project managements in order to fulfill projects correctly and in time.
What is Project Management?
Before getting closer to discussing the notion of project management, it is necessary to define the term “project” in order to gain a better understanding of it. First of all, a project is a complex or a set of tasks that should be accomplished by a certain date in the future. Secondly, project always has important goals, which have to be achieved while fulfilling a project. Thirdly, a project is characterized by a clear objective which has to be completed within certain start and end dates and using limited resources. Every project may consume material (money) resources and non-material resources (human efforts, creativity). Thus, while managing a project, a project manager is limited by financial resources, time and the scope of a project. Projects can be fulfilled by one person (individual projects), or by a group of people (team projects). Project management is both a process consisting of several steps and a complex of techniques, knowledge, skills and tools applied by a project manager solely or a group of people headed by a project manager to fulfill a combination of tasks in order to reach the goals of a project.
There is no secret that project management did not receive much attention until recently. For many years, the profession of a project manager was not even considered as such. However, things have changed. Project management has become a subject of major studies, the goals of which were to determine what meaning the notion of project management carried. Project management is a challenging process and requires development and usage of a specific strategy and methodology. An important characteristic feature of project management is that it is should be always planned very carefully and be well-organized.
Important parts of any process of project management are: the process of project planning, which consists of such tasks as, identifying the main purpose of the project, tasks specification, calculation of necessary resources and scheduling; implementation of the project plan; 3) controlling and monitoring of the fulfillment of the project.
The first and the most important step in project management is project planning. Project planning in its turn also consists of several steps and it usually begins with setting principal objective of the project and defining its scope.
The second step involves determining what task should be accomplished within the scope of the project. When the objectives and the tasks of the project are identified, it is time for the next step, which involves determining in what sequence the tasks will be accomplished. The following step is to decide what assignments will be performed by each of the team member, in case when a project is to be fulfilled not individually but by a group of people. The main goal of the last step of project planning is to find out how much time it is necessary to spend on the accomplishment of every task and development of project scheduling. Also, it is essential to correlate the goals of the project with the resources possessed during the process of project planning.
The following step of project management is the implementation of the plan and the fulfillment of the project task. This step presupposes that all team members already know what they should do; thus, they should put all their efforts into the best possible fulfillment of the project task. Project manager, in this case, may or may not directly accomplish these tasks. Instead, he/she may be only guiding the process to achieve the best results.
The last step of project management is controlling, during which the results of the project are compared with the objectives set at the planning stage. It is possible to correct some little errors during this step if time and resources permit to do so.
As it has been stated above project management is a rather challenging process, which requires not only time and money, but also a lot of efforts from the side of the individuals who are engaged into bringing the project to life. This is especially relevant when speaking about project managers, who are supposed to perform a lot of functions and to possess certain skills in order to make project a success. The first function to speak about will be planning. The process of project planning has been already discussed; however, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of performing this function by the project manager and his ability to involve all team members into this process. Second function is organizing, which means finding out what resources will be used, what task have to be completed; a project manager should also assign task to the team members, delegate authority, if necessary, and motivate workers to concentrate on the project goals. In the context of this function, a project manager should schedule all the tasks, determine who will do what and motivate the team to work effectively and to cooperate for the sake of one common goal. The third important function of a project manager is controlling, which lies in constant tracking of the progress of project and comparing the results with what has been planned. In the context of this function a project manager should complete progress reports and determine what can be improved. Besides performing these three basic functions, a project manager also should possess certain skills. These skills include leadership (a project manager should be also a leader of the team, otherwise he/she won’t be able to organize its work); forecasting (should be done in order to avoid unpleasant surprises); communication; problem-solving skills; time management; and human resources. A project manager is responsible for establishing a comfortable environment inside of the team, to help the team members resolve problems if necessary, to keep the team focused on the project’s goals and motivated by the results and etc. Provided a project manager has all of the described above skills and performs all of the functions the project is condemned to success, which is 50 per cent sure. The other 50 per cent of success largely depend on the desire of team members to reach it and availability of resources.
Having spoken about the project management, its steps and functions of a project manager it is necessary to make a conclusion. Project management is a complex process, which requires certain knowledge and skills, which means that not every person would be able to become a project manager. Nowadays, there are special programs and courses which aim at educating people on the matter of project management. People are learning planning and scheduling techniques, gain skills of working with groups of people, organizing, motivating and controlling their actions. Because all projects are accompanied by certain amount of risk, it is also necessary for project managers to foresee possible risks and quickly come up with the measures to solve various problems. This is what constitutes the process of project management, the ability to perform which is somewhere between experience and talent, knowledge and intuition, skills and random attempts to do something.