Project management

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Project management is the discipline of defining and achieving targets while optimizing the use of resources (time, money, people, space, etc). Thus, it could be classified into several models: time, cost, scope, and intangibles.

Project management is quite often the province and responsibility of an individual project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress and productive mutual interaction of various parties in such a way that overall risk of failure is reduced.

Compare a project to say, a manufacturing line, which is intended to be a continuous process without a planned end.

Typical projects might include the engineering and construction of a building, or the design, coding, testing and documentation of a computer software program, or development of the science and clinical testing of a new drug. The duration of a project is the time from its start to its completion, which can take days, weeks, months or even years.

In contrast to on-going, functional work, a project is "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result" (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide, Third Edition, Project Management Institute, 2004, p. 5). Projects are temporary because they have a definite beginning and a definite end. They are unique because the product or service they create is different in some distinguishing way from similar products or services.


Generally, there are two approaches that can be taken to project management today. The "traditional" approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. This contrasts with the agile software development approach in which the project is seen as relatively small tasks rather than a complete process. The objective of this approach is to impose as little overhead as possible in the form of rationale, justification, documentation, reporting, meetings, and permission. This approach may also be called the "spiral" approach, since completion of one of the small tasks leads to the beginning of the next. Advanced approaches to agile project management, applicable not only to software development but to any area, utilize the principles of human interaction management to deal with the complexities of human collaboration.

The traditional approachEdit

In the traditional approach, we can distinguish 5 components of a project (4 stages plus control) in the development of a project:

  1. project initiation (Kickoff)
  2. project planning
  3. project production or execution
  4. project monitoring or controlling
  5. project completion

Not all projects will visit every stage as projects can be terminated before they reach completion. Some projects probably don't have the planning and/or the monitoring. Some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.

Many industries utilize variations on these stages. For example, in bricks and mortar architectural design, projects typically progress through stages like Pre-Planning, Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Drawings (or Contract Documents), and Construction Administration. While the names may differ from industry to industry, the actual stages typically follow common steps to problem solving--defining the problem, weighing options, choosing a path, implementation and evaluation.

Project management tries to gain control over five variables:

Three of these variables can be given by external or internal customers. The value(s) of the remaining variable(s) is/are then set by project management, ideally based on solid estimation techniques. The final values have to be agreed upon in a negotiation process between project management and the customer. Usually, the values in terms of time, cost, quality and scope are contracted.

To keep control over the project from the beginning of the project all the way to its natural conclusion, a project manager uses a number of techniques: project planning, earned value, risk management, scheduling, process improvement...

History of project managementEdit

Project management was not used as an isolated concept before the Sputnik crisis of the Cold War. After this crisis, the United States Department of Defense needed to speed up the military project process and new tools (models) for achieving this goal were invented. In 1958 they invented the Program Evaluation and Review Technique or PERT, as part of the Polaris missile submarine program. At the same time, the DuPont corporation invented a similar model called CPM, critical path method. PERT was later extended with a work breakdown structure or WBS. The process flow and structure of the military undertakings quickly spread into many private enterprises.

There are a number of guiding techniques that have been developed over the years that can be used to formally specify exactly how the project will be managed. These include the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), and such ideas as the Personal Software Process (PSP), and the Team Software Process (TSP) and PRINCE2. These techniques attempt to standardize the practices of the development team making them easier to predict and manage as well as track.

Critical chain is the latest extension to the traditional critical path method.

In critical studies of project management, it has been noted that several of these fundamentally PERT-based models are not well suited for the multi-project company environment of today. Most of them are aimed at very large-scale, one-time, non-routine projects, and nowadays all kinds of management are expressed in terms of projects. Using complex models for "projects" (or rather "tasks") spanning a few weeks has been proven to cause unnecessary costs and low maneuverability in several cases. Instead project management experts try to identify different "lightweight" models, such as, for example Extreme Programming for software development and Scrum techniques. The generalization of extreme programming to other kinds of projects is extreme project management, which may be used in combination with the process modeling and management principles of human interaction management.

Project Management StepsEdit

Project Management is basically divided into five parts

1. Requirements analysis 2. Engineering and Design 3. Procurement 4. Development or Construction 5. Maintenance or Post Development System (or Software) Support

Requirements analysis begins the process by defining the requirements and specifications, first in coarse terms, followed by increasingly refined terms, until a clear concept of operation and design can emerge. It is critical to the remaining steps that this step be complete and not changed, because the cost to make changes to the requirements is exponential as one moves from step to step.

The basic design, conceptualization and Engineering comes under the category of Engineering Works.

Procurement is the purchase of raw material like Brought Outs, Materials, Tools and Tackles, etc required for the project.

Construction includes implementation, installation or construction project including testing...

Process-based managementEdit

Also furthering the concept of project control is the incorporation of process-based management. This area has been driven by the use of Maturity models such as the CMMi (Capability Maturity Model Integration) and ISO/IEC15504 (SPICE - [[Software Process Improvement Capability ent is far more successful.

Agile project management approaches based on the principles of human interaction management are founded on a process view of human collaboration.

Project management standards and professional certificationEdit

There have been several attempts to develop project management standards, such as:

See also: An exhaustive list of standards (maturity models)

So far, there is no known attempt to develop a project management standard available under the GNU Free Documentation License. There is a proposed Project Management XML Schema.

Case StudiesEdit

  • Salvage of the Port of Massawa, Eritrea, 1942. The port was a chaotic mess. Access had been blocked with scuttled ships and port facilities had been wrecked. Captain Edward Ellsberg, a US Navy salvage expert, rapidly salvaged scuttled ships for service in the Allied merchant fleets. He also salvaged a large floating dry dock and returned port shops and facilities to operation. Ellsberg had very limited resources and poor administrative support. Ellsberg's efforts show that a project oriented expert can accomplish a nearly insurmountable task. Interestingly, Ellsberg had virtually no support staff. He planned and managed the entire project by himself with the assistance of a few skilled workers. Ellsberg, an accomplished author, documented the case in Under the Red Sea Sun (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1946).
  • The Great Escape, 1944. The escape from Stalag Luft III in 1944 is documented in The Great Escape (New York: Norton, 1950) by Paul Brickhill. In this case, a large, highly-decentralized organization worked toward the goal of a mass escape over a long period of time. This shows how an ad hoc group can use diverse talents to accomplish a difficult task under very adverse circumstances. This highly dramatic episode lent itself dramatization in the movie, The Great Escape, in 1963.

See also Edit

External links Edit


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