A project is a distinctive set of coordinated tasks, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by someone or team of people to meet specific objectives within agreed time, cost and parameters as specified in a business case.
A project should have the following features:
Finite – distinct start and finish
Deliverables designed to meet specific business objectives
Tasks to create the deliverables
Defined amount of resources
Organisation structure, with defined responsibilities, to manage the project
Project management is much more than the activities carried out by a project manager.
Project management is a amalgamation of the roles and responsibilities of individuals assigned to the project, the organisational structure that sets out clear reporting arrangements and the set of processes to bring the required outcome.
Project management make certain that everyone concerned knows what is expected of them and ensures to keep cost, time and risk are kept in line.
Experience has shown that projects are essentially always at risk – through overrunning on time and cost and/or failing to deliver the intended outcome.
Such failures are almost invariably caused by:
Poor project definition by the organisation, perhaps because of inadequate consultation with stakeholders or their failure to be specific about requirements and needed outcomes
Lack of ownership and accountability by senior management
Insufficiently skilled and experienced project personnel
Insufficient reporting arrangements and decision-making
Contradictory understanding of required project activities, roles and responsibilities
Project management reduces and manages risk. It puts in place an organisation where lines of accountability are short and the responsibilities of individuals are clearly defined.
Its processes are clearly documented and repeatable, so that those concerned in the project can learn from the experiences of others.
Formal project management ought to be adopted for all high and medium risk projects.
The principles are equally valuable for smaller and/or lower risk projects. The nature of a project will determine the project management approach you need, which should be adapted as required.
- Leal, J. (2001) 'What is Project Management' ProjectTemplates.co.uk