Every company has numerous projects occurring at any given time. Core project management skills are necessary to ensure that projects are run efficiently and effectively. Project management has been around for centuries in various forms. As a discipline, it gained in importance in 1968 when the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed to provide guidelines and insights on proper project management.
The goal of this article is to discuss Project Management: An Integral Component to Company Success. Ensuring the utilization of key project management guidelines will help to ensure the success of projects and the resulting success of the business.
Project Management Professionals
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the gold-standard of guidance on properly running projects. This article will outline some of the key guidance that is provided by PMI in the PMBOK Guide: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Sixth Edition
Your company may not require a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) each of your projects, however, it is helpful to ensure that the people you do have running projects have at least been exposed to some of the fundamentals of project management.
The person who is identified as the project manager for a particular project will have the responsibility to lead the team of individuals that will be working together to achieve the project objectives. This person will need to be effective at building relationships and communicating with the various stakeholders involved in a project (those on the team and those who are not). Each project manager should possess an appropriate level of the following skills to meet the needs of the project size:
- Technical Project Management
- Strategic and Business Management
Larger and more complicated projects will necessitate an increasing level of skills and experience in each of these areas.
A Project Management Framework:
There are several factors that should be in place to ensure that your company has the framework to enable proper project management, which will include:
- Senior Leadership Commitment: As a company looks to formalize their commitment to utilizing project management standards it is important to ensure that the senior leadership is in support of this effort and will hold the organization accountable to using project management standards on projects that are strategic in nature or are in support of key objectives.
- Project Managers: Anyone serving in the capacity of a project manager will possess the skills or will receive training on the necessary project management skills before they perform as a project manager.
- Human Resources: Human resources hiring managers have been engaged and understand the skills and competencies that should be looked for in any position that may have responsibility for running projects. Human resources may also be involved in the assessment of existing personnel to identify any skill gaps that may need to be addressed through training or coaching.
- Training Department: The training department should be engaged to develop any required training programs or materials that are necessary to raise the project management skill and competency levels of key individuals. Vary programs may be necessary depending on the need to train individuals on project management skills, team members on project team collaboration skills, and training for project sponsors on their roles in projects.
Grouping of Project Management Activities
The sixth edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) outlines the five groupings that project management activities will occur in. These are important to understand as it helps a project manager associate the various activities with. The Project Management Process Groups are defined as follows by the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2017, page 25:
- Initiating Process Group: These are the processes that help define a new piece of work – either a completely new project or the phase you are about to begin. They ensure you have the authority to proceed.
- Planning Process Group: These processes help you define objectives and scope out the work to be done. They also encompass all the workaround planning and scheduling tasks. Again, they can cover a complete project or just the phase you are working on right now. Or you might be closing one phase and planning the next in parallel.
- Executing Process Group: You do these processes as you carry out your project tasks. This is the ‘delivery’ part of project management, where the main activity happens and you create the products.
- Monitoring and Controlling Process Group: These processes let you track the work that is being done, review, and report on it. They also cover what happens when you find out the project isn’t following the agreed plan, so change management falls into this Process Group. You’ll run these processes alongside those in the Executing Group (mainly, but alongside the other Groups too) so you monitor as you go.
- Closing Process Group: Finally, these processes let you finalize all the tasks in the other Groups when you get to the point to close the project or phase.
Project Management Knowledge Areas
The Project Management Knowledge Areas contain all of the various steps and activities that commonly occur throughout the life of the project. Each of these knowledge areas can be organized additionally into the Process Group in which they occur. A google search of “project management knowledge areas by process groups” will provide numerous resources that are available on this subject.
Each Project Management Knowledge Area has anywhere from three to seven activity groups that each contain specific actions that are always grouped into either
- Inputs: These are resources that are used by the activity group to manage an area of the projects. In many instances, the inputs come from the output of another knowledge areas output
- Tools & Techniques: There are a variety of tools and techniques used in project management and each activity area uses a variety of tools to effectively complete the objectives of the knowledge areas activity group
- Outputs: These are the specific results that are completed or produced by specific knowledge areas activity group actions. These outputs often times are used as inputs for another knowledge areas activity group
A unique characteristic of the knowledge area activity groupings is that often-times activities are occurring simultaneously, it is not a solely linear process. That is why good project management skills are developed over time and ultimately may be unique to the types of projects and protocols within a specific company.
It will benefit project managers to also become familiar with the various knowledge areas of project management which are defined as:
- Project Integration Management: This area is a backbone of project management and includes the seven activity groups of :
- Develop Project Charter
- Develop Project Management Plan
- Direct and Manage Project Work
- Manage Project Knowledge
- Monitor and Control Project Work
- Perform Integrated Project Management
- Close Project or Phase
- Project Scope Management: To avoid a project become unwieldy and stretching beyond given resources and requirements the project must be properly defined and scoped. The activity groups in this area are:
- Plan Scope Management
- Collect Requirements
- Define Scope
- Create WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
- Validate Scope
- Control Scope
- Project Schedule Management: The schedule for your project ultimately impacts scheduling needs, the timing of activities, and funding requirements and consist of the following activity groups:
- Plan Schedule Management
- Define Activities
- Sequence Activities
- Estimate Activity Durations
- Develop Schedule
- Control Schedule
- Project Cost Management: Operating within the costs allocations for your project is typically a key performance indicator for a project manager and involves the following activity groups:
- Plan Cost Management
- Estimate Costs
- Determine Budget
- Control Costs
- Project Quality Management: Every project has certain measures of quality that are targeted to be achieved to ensure the satisfaction of the key stakeholders or customers. Key activity groups in quality management are:
- Plan Quality Management
- Manage Quality
- Control Quality
- Project Resource Management: Projects vary greatly in complexity and as a result can vary greatly in the types of people that are needed to fulfill the needs of the project and can vary in the types of equipment, materials, facilities, and supplies that may be necessary. The activities to manage resources properly fall into the following resource management activity groups:
- Plan Resource Management
- Estimate Activity Resources
- Acquire Resources
- Develop Team
- Manage Team
- Control Resources
- Project Communication Management: Critical to a project’s success is ensuring that various members on a team, key stakeholders, and external customers are communicating properly. The activities to ensure that everyone is communicated to efficiently and effectively fall into the following activity groups:
- Plan Communications Management Plan
- Manage Communications
- Monitor Communications
- Project Risk Management: Every project has risks that can affect costs, timelines, availability of resources, quality, scope, etc. Each project should contain an effort to brainstorm the risks that may impact the project and the degree to which this impact can affect the project. The various activities involved in risk management are grouped into the following activity areas:
- Plan Risk Management
- Identify Risks
- Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
- Plan Risk Responses
- Implement Risk Responses
- Monitor Risks
- Project Procurement Management: In many projects, the work surrounding the procurement of certain resources may be handled by a group(s) outside of the direct project. However, a project manager will want to be aware of and involved in various activities that occur in the following activity groups:
- Plan Procurement Management
- Conduct Procurements
- Control Procurements
- Project Stakeholder Management: Great project managers are very good at working with the various types of stakeholders that make up any project. Project managers should ensure that they are very familiar with the various components that make up each of the following activity groups:
- Identify Stakeholders
- Plan Stakeholder Engagement
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
- Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
As you build and improve your project management capability within your organization you may wish to consider the following:
- Systems Support: If you do not have a Project Management Office (PMO) that has an approved Project Portfolio Management (PPM) platform which contains the capability to manage projects then you will likely need some type of system dedicated to the managing of projects. Project Management platforms come in a variety of sizes and styles and many systems are geared towards meeting the specific needs of certain types of projects. Some systems are more general in nature and have the flexibility to be configured, customized, or utilized in a manner that meets different project manager needs. It is suggested that you take the time to assess the needs of your various project managers before beginning your project management platform selection process. Project Management platforms can range from a few thousand dollars a year to over $100,000. Understanding the needs of your project managers and other stakeholders will help you select the right system that meets your needs at an optimal cost. It may be worth investing in an external project management expert that can help you assess your needs and the right systems solutions
- Project Management Office: Depending upon the size of your organization and the complexity of your projects you may wish to research implementing a Project Management Office (PMO). Various structures and sizes exist that may greatly improve your success in managing the various projects occurring in your organization.
- Books: Project Management can be quite formalized. The following resources can provide helpful insights to project management n for those team members who will be most closely involved in the implementation of your PMO.
- Sprint: Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp
- PMP PMBOK: Project Management Professional Study Guide by Ralph Cybulski
- Simple PMP: Exam Guide Updated for the PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition by Phil Martin
- PMBOK Guide: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Sixth Edition by PMI
Improving your efficiency and effectiveness at project management is an area that can greatly improve your ability to execute your strategic plan, deliver value to your stakeholders, and improve the profitability of your company.