Project Management- Meaning, Characteristics, Functions
Meaning and Definitions of Project Management
Project Management is an organized venture for managing projects. It involves scientific application of modern tools and techniques in planning, financing, implementing, monitoring, controlling and coordinating various activities or tasks to produce desirable outputs in agreement with pre-determined objectives within the constraints of time, cost, quantity and quality. Project management is basically involved in executing the project. In simple words, project management is the planning organizing, directing and controlling of company resources for a relatively short-term objectives that has been established to complete specific goals and objectives.
Professor Harold Kerzner, “Project managements is the process of achieving project objectives irough the traditional organizational structure and over the specialities of the individuals concerned. Project management is applicable for any (unique, one time, one of a kind). Undertaking concerned with a specify and objectives.’
Project Management Institute of USA, “Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by using modern management techniques to achieve pre-determined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality to the equal satisfaction of those involved.” Characteristics or Features of Project Management
The following features of project management are identified:
- Project management which is not a small task, has a definite beginning and end. It is not a continuous process;
- Project management uses various tools to measure accomplishments and track project tasks.
- Project frequently need resources on an adhoc basis as opposed to organizations that have only dedicated full-time positions;
- Project management reduces risk and increases the chance of success.
- Projects can originate at different places inside or outside the organization.
- The project manager is the focal point for bringing together all efforts towards a single project objective.
- Decision-making, accountability, outcomes and rewards are shared among members of the project team and supporting functional units.
- Though the project organization is temporary. The functional, or subcontracting units from which it is formed is permanent.
Functions of Project Management
[I] General Project Management Functions :
The general project management functions includes the following:
Project Integration :
If there is one most important aspect of project management, it would be integration. One must be able to integrate the many speciality fields provided by the human resource. Integrate the wide variety of equipment and materials, integrate the technologies to produce a product or an end result in conformance to the specifications/requirements on time, and in the cost frame allowed. With the dynamics of the project environment, it is almost impossible to allocate and schedule every part of the project. The management must be able to use the functional structure to adapt to the things that will always go wrong.
There must be a ‘vision’. If it is appropriately conveyed to the project team, it can be an asset in determining controls and integration. On the technical level, strategic planning must involve combining the product components in a manner with which best fits the requirements. Planning on a human level requires concepts and work efforts. A well-defined vision helps define how a project is to be managed. Also, in strategic planning, control requirements and related procedures must be in place before substantial work can be done on the project.
Resource Allocation :
This is a process which determines the cost of a defined project and provides control over the project team. It is simply the project budget, but is not a simple process. Fortunately, there is the computer with its many software packages. These programs allow identification of critical activities, number of unit resources needed in one day, and activities in which a critical resource is required. This greatly cases the demand on identifying critical decision area but the human is the one who makes the ultimate decision.
[II] Basic Project Management Functions :
The basic project management functions include the following:
Scope Management :
Scope management is the function of controlling a project in terms of its goals and objectives through the processes of conceptual development. The scope of a project involves either the project work content or its components. It can be fully described by naming all objectives performed by identifying the end products and the resources consumed.
Quality Management :
Quality is the composite of material attributes (including performance features and characteristics) of the product or service which are required to satisfy the need for which the project in launched. This is simply conformance to requirements and specifications. The requirement may not only be what is written in the contract, but also the client’s real or conceived’ or perception of conformance. Conformance can apply to the project itself as a measure of how well it was planned executed relative to such things as environmental and safety expectations of society.
Time management is the function required to maintain appropriate allocation, of time to the overall conduct of the project through the successive stages of its natural life-cycle. Time management is divided into four areas-panning, estimating, scheduling, control Panning includes defining the project, how the project will be accomplished, and what methods will be used. Estimating is determining the duration of each activity involved in the project. Scheduling determines the time period in which the activity is performed. Control includes evaluation events and taking corrective action to ensure project completion.
This includes the processes required to maintain financial control over projects. This requires estimating, organizing, analyzing, controlling, economic evaluation and forecasting to allow for corrective acting. Cost estimation involves assembly and prediction of cost over the life of a project. Establishing a budget, setting standards, and monitoring the project costs can help manage and measure progress. Cost control is an integral part of cost management. This involves gathering, analyzing, monitoring, reporting, and managing the cost on an ongoing basis.
[III] Integrative Project Management:
The integrative, also called supportive, project management function includes
This is an ‘art and a science’ of identifying, evaluating, and responding to the risk conditions throughout the duration of the project, keeping in mind the objectives of the project. Risk management needs to be seen as identifying problem areas in advance and not as they happen. This would provide the necessary time to adjust the project in correspondence to objectives and adapting to the situation while the project is progressing. Time and money can be lost here. This is a formal process where a business applies defensive response planning in, the wake of mitigation by avoidance, deflection of risk through the contract or by insurance, and contingency planning by providing allowances in the budget for the uncertainties.
Human Resources Management:
Human resources management is the function of directing and coordinating human resources throughout the life project. This involves building a project team that would be a workable, cohesive unit. Two types of tasks are recognized i.e., administrative and behavioural. Administrative tasks include compensation and evaluation of employees, and relations and evaluation of government regulations. Many of these tasks are ‘directed by organizations outside the project. In order to facilitate the process, one must understand how these factors work.
The behavioural aspects deal mainly with the project team members. Interaction as a team and their contracts outside the project become a part of the process. Areas of motivation, conflict resolution, communicating, and team building become important part of this type of management. A concerted effort is needed in this area since the project is relatively short in duration and dynamic in nature.
Contract/ Procurement Management:
Contract/procurement management is the function through which resources including people, plant, equipment and material “are acquired for the project in order to produce the end product. Formal negotiations usually result in a written document called a contract. Knowledge is vital to this area of management because of the many different types of contracts that are required for project completion and success. The fundamental areas of knowledge include initiation and evaluation of contracts, negotiation and administration of contracts. It is also essential to understand the different social, political, legal, and functional involvement entangled in contract procurement management.
Communication management is the proper organization and control of information transmitted by, whatever means to satisfy the needs of the project. It includes the processes of transmitting, filtering, receiving and interpreting or understanding information using appropriate skills according to the application in the project environment. Successful project management must have a Communications network. Proper communication to the upper management, project team, and to others rely heavily on the ability to breakdown communications that are not clear and convey unfamiliar technical languages.
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