Project is that planning in which we try our best under a perfect system for making a product or buying a fixed asset or creating services for our customers. For example, you have to start a new business. To start a new business is a simple example of a project. In business area there are large number of projects like construction projects, IT projects, product development projects, organizational projects, logistics projects, marketing projects, community projects and cultural projects. In this paper the author is going to analyze with the aid of a diagram, the (5) five key characteristics of a project that have to be managed.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
A project according to Lester A (2007:1) is “a unique set of co-ordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or organization to meet specific objectives within defined schedule, cost and performance parameters”. William M(2008:2) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.” Project management is also defined by www.apm.org as the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives. In general a project is a unique, transient endeavor, undertaken to achieve planned objectives which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits.
The first element amidst the five key characteristics is the scope of the project. Usually the scope or the coverage of the project is covered within the project scope statement. Project managers use the scope statement as a written confirmation of the results of your project will produce and the constraints and assumptions under which you will work. A good scope statement includes the following: justification, a brief statement regarding the business need your project addresses. The product scope description is part of the scope statement; it describes the types of products, services, and/or results your project will produce. The scope statement must also define the acceptance criteria which are conditions that must be met before project deliverables, that is, the products, services, and/or results your project will produce also as the objectives. The project exclusions should include in the scope statement, that is, what the project will not accomplish. Exclusions are constraints, restrictions that limit what you can achieve it, and how much achieving it can cost and lastly, the assumptions of the project, that is, statements about how you will address uncertain information as you conceive, plan, and perform your project.
The second element of the five characteristic of a project is the resources, that is, what can be used to meet the scope. The project plan must also include the resource plan which summarizes the level of resources needed to complete a project. A resource plan is created during the project resource planning phase. Anyone responsible for project resource management will need to create a comprehensive resource plan to ensure that all resource needed to complete the project are identified. By implementing proper resource planning practices, it also helps you with budgeting and forecasting project expenditure.
The third element is time. What tasks are to be undertaken and when. Time management is another key aspect of managing a project. As such, it is considered to be a core knowledge area, and is closely knit to scope and cost areas. The main purpose of this knowledge area, as its name suggests, is to build processes and outputs into the project that assist the manager and team to complete the project in a timely manner. The controlling and monitoring process is concerned with tracking and reporting on the progress of work, as well as adjusting time outputs to address shifts and changes in the project plan. Time management can be divided into the following: schedule development, define activities, sequence activities, estimate activities resources and estimate activities duration.
Time management is one element to be managed in a project. Time management is necessary because a team have to managed, organized to meet certain deadlines and to streamline collaborations. Past experiences is one of the best guides to creating a plan. Objectives are taken from the project charter and subdivided down into manageable subsections and deadlines are attached. They are prioritized and given the amounts of time needed to complete the objective with extra time added for troubleshooting. The objectives are then put together and each team member is assigned to the different subsections.
The project management team uses time management tool to focus priorities, and give clear, detailed deadlines. For the stakeholders it gives them a due date that they will receive the project as well as when different prototypes or earlier objectives will be completed. Times are for part determined by the team, with final deadline negotiated with stakeholders, allowing room to negotiate deadlines for other deliverables.
The third element to be considered in a project is the project quality.According to PM4DEV(2008:3) quality management is the process of ensuring that all project activities necessary to design, plan and implement a project are effective and efficient with respect to the purpose of the objective and its performance. Project quality management is not a separate, independent process occurs at the end of an activity to measure the level of quality of the output. Quality management is a continuous process that starts and ends with the project. It is more about preventing and avoiding than measuring and fixing poor quality outputs. It is part of every project management processes from the moment the project initiates to the final steps in the project closure phase.
Quality management focuses on improving stakeholder’s satisfaction through continuous and incremental improvements to processes, including removing unnecessary activities; it achieves that by the continuous improvement of quality of materials and services provided to the beneficiaries. It is not about finding errors after the fact, quality management is the continuous monitoring and application of quality processes in all aspects of the project.
The fifth element is the project risks. According to Heagney (2012:56-57) project risk management begins early in the project life-cycle. A clear understanding of the risks that face the project must be established. The sources of project risk are almost limitless, emphasizing the need for a well thought out, detailed plan. Typical examples are the loss of a key team member, weather emergencies, technical failures and poor supplies.
Many project managers wait for too long to assess risk factors and they delay the risk plan because they assume they don’t know enough yet, that there are too many unknowns. During the initiation phase of the project life-cycle, an initial high level assessment ought to be conducted. A “what can go wrong” approach must be done at the beginning laying the foundation for the detailed plan to follow. Without this foundation, projects often experience the negative impact of risks that become reality, risks that might have been prevented or mitigated through contingency planning.
Risks management is defined by PMBOK ® guide as “the process of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and monitoring and control on a project.When applied to processes variation often equals inefficiency” Usually project risks are managed through a six-step process ,establishing a project risk plan including making a list of potential risks, determining the probability of risk occurrences, determining its negative impact, preventing or mitigating the risks, considering contingencies and establishing trigger points for activating contingencies.
The author had discussed the five key characteristics of a project that have to be managed, namely, the project scope which is defined as what will be covered in a project, resources which can be used to meet the project scope, time, which is are tasks which are undertaken and when. Quality which is the spread or deviation allowed from desired starndard and risks which is defined as the anticipation of what may happen to drive the plan off course, and what will be done to recover the situation.
PM4DEV ®, Project Quality Management,ebook found on www.classtoolkit.org/sites/default/files/documents/PM4DEV_project_quality_management.pdf
Heagney J,2012, Fundamentals of Project Management, New york, American Management Association.
Etiwel Mutero works for the National University of Science and Technology,he holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management through the Zimbabwe Open University and a National Certificate in Records and Archives Management from Kwekwe Polytechnic.You can contact him on 0773614293 or firstname.lastname@example.org