What Is Project Management

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Project management is the planning, scheduling, and controlling of project activities to meet project objectives. The major objectives that must be met include performance, cost, and time goals, while at the same time you control or maintain the scope of the project at the correct level.

Ideally, the scope of a project should remain constant throughout the life of the job. Naturally, this seldom happens. In most cases the magnitude (scope) of the work increases as a result of overlooked details, unforeseen problems, or an inadequately defined problem. The most common reason for scope changes is that something is forgotten.

project management: The planning, scheduling, and controlling of project activities to meet project objectives.

Scope generally increases. In fact, about the only time project scope decreases is when the budget is cut and some of the originally planned work is put on hold. The problem with scope changes is that they tend to be small and incremental; if a number of them occur, the project budget or schedule may suffer. This is a fairly common cause of project failures.

A project manager should advise stakeholders (especially customers) of the impact on the project of a change in scope so that decisions can be made about how to handle such changes. If a customer is told that a requested change will result in a 20% increase in project costs, the customer may opt to defer the change. If the impact is not made clear, the customer may ask for the change, thinking the costs will not increase significantly, and be very dismayed at the end of the job to learn of the true impact. A project manager has a responsibility to keep stakeholders informed about the impact of scope changes on the project, protecting them from surprises at the end of the job and protecting the project manager from being evaluated on original targets rather than on revised ones.

performance: The quality of the work being done. cost: The cost of project work, directly related to the human and physical resources applied. time: The schedule that must be met. scope: The magnitude of the work to be performed.

The four project objectives are related to each other by the following equation:

What the equation says is that cost is a function ( f) of performance (P), time (T), and scope (S). As Pand S increase, cost generally increases. The relationship between time and cost, however, is not linear. As a rule, cost increases as the time to do the project decreases below a certain optimum time. That is, there exists a project duration that results in the best performance of all resources. If the duration is shortened, it is often necessary to pay premium labor rates as a consequence. Further, worker errors often increase, resulting in costs for corrections, and productivity often declines. Studies have shown that if a knowledge worker spends twelve hours of overtime on a job, the actual increase in output is equivalent to that normally obtained in two hours of regular work.

In addition, if project work extends beyond an optimum time, costs increase because people are not working efficiently. This relationship is shown in Figure 1-1.

Some senior managers believe that if enough people are thrown at a project, it can be completed in whatever time is desired. This is simply not true, but the idea is the cause of many project fiascos.

Figure 1-1 Cost time curve.

Figure 1-1 Cost time curve.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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