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Editorial - Project Management

Project Management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources (i.e. people and materials) in such a way that the project is completed within defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints.
A project is a interim event undertaken to create a unique product or service, which creates beneficial change or added value. This temporary one-time undertaking contrasts with processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent ongoing functional work to create the same product or service over and over again. The management style of projects is very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy, hence requiring the development of project management.
A senior Programme Manager once described Project Managers as “Control Freaks”.  They are not control freaks, but do have to maintain control if the project is to be delivered on time, within budget and fit for purpose.

The first challenge of any project, is to ensure that a project is delivered within defined constraints. The second, more ambitious challenge is the allocation and integration of inputs needed to meet the pre-defined objectives. Consequently, a project is a carefully defined set of activities that use resources (money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, quality, risk, etc.) to meet the pre-defined scope.

Project management is normally the province and responsibility of an individual project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but works to maintain the progress and productive mutual interaction of various parties in such a way that overall risk of failure is reduced.
This project manager is often a client representative and has to determine and implement the exact needs of the client, based on knowledge of the firm he/she is representing. The ability to adapt to the clients culture, their various internal procedures, and to form close links with the nominated representatives, is essential in ensuring that the key issues of cost, time, quality, and above all, client satisfaction, can be realized.

A successful project manager must be able to envisage the entire project from start to finish and to have the ability to ensure that this vision is realized.  Regardless of the product or service —buildings, vehicles, electronics, computer software, financial services, etc.—it should have its implementation overseen by a project manager. In addition to this, a good project manager has the ability to work across different services and products as the skills are transferable.

As a discipline, Project Management initially developed from different fields of application including construction, engineering, and defence.   Today we see accreditation from multiple methodologies such as CASE, PRINCE, PRINCE II, DSDM, Six Sigma, Agile, MSP, PMI and IPM.  All have their merits.  Each ensures that set processes and procedures are put into place to ensure that specific actions take place to guarantee that the checks and balances work to provide a successful outcome.
None the less these methodologies have to be tailored to each organisation and their frameworks or they run the risk of becoming too rigid, causing constraints.  Further to this commonsense and the ability to lead from the front, by example is important. Lastly, always remember the 7Ps (Proper Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent Poor Performance).

Author: David Snell

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