Examining the Project Management Context Pmbok Section

Projects typically fall under some other umbrella within an organization: project portfolio management, project offices, or programs. The project management context describes all the different environments where a project may reside.

Your real-live organization may have one, all, or even none of these descriptions— don't sweat it. For your exam, however, you'll need to be familiar with these different organizational situations and how each one affects the project and the project manager.

Working with Programs

A program is a collection of related projects organized to gain benefits from the projects collectively that wouldn't be realized if the projects were managed independently. Consider a program of building a skyscraper. There could be lots of projects within the skyscraper program: structure, elevators, electrical, plumbing, and tons more.

If each project were managed independently, a lot of work would have to be duplicated within the construction of the new skyscraper. But by creating a program, time and effort can be saved by managing projects collectively. For example, the electrician, the telephone installer, and the network engineer can pool their resources to pull the electrical cables, telephone cables, and network cables all at once.

The point to take away from this discussion on programs is that projects are usually contributing one major deliverable and can work together to save time, effort, and dollars.

Opening Your Portfolio

Project portfolio management is the selection, management, and collection of projects within an organization. Unlike a program, the projects may not be directly related, but they contribute to the organization's overall strategic plan. For example, a construction

company may have a collection of projects in which some are high-profile projects that could change a city's skyline, and other projects are minor and might be just the construction of a small garage or home.

The portfolio of projects defines the rules for selecting, maintaining, and even funding the projects within an organization. We all know that a company usually has only so much money to invest in the project it selects. Project portfolio management defines the projects that should be selected based on need, risk and reward, return on investment, and practically any other issues an organization identifies.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, project managers aren't usually directly involved in project portfolio management. This activity is generally reserved for senior management, as they decide which project best propels an organization's mission, purpose, and strategy. Project managers inherit upper management's vision and then manage the projects they've been assigned.

Working with Subprojects

A subproject is just a project that's been lopped off from a larger project. For example, a project to build a new house may create a subproject for all of the home automation, home theater, and home network installation. The subproject is managed as its own project but has constraints and requirements within the confines of the larger project to create the new home. Other examples of subprojects include:

• A single phase within a project life cycle could be a subproject. A good example is the phases of construction on a new home: permits, excavation, foundation, framing, and so on. Each phase could be a subproject.

• Human resource skill sets are often identified as subprojects. Consider all of the work a plumber, electrician, carpenter, and other skilled workers can do. The related work of each professional could form a subproject.

• Specialized technology, materials, or activities could be subprojects. The installation of a new type of siding for our home construction project could be considered a subproject, where we'd use a team of specialists to manage and complete the subproject.

Working with Project Management Offices

A project management office, often just called a PMO, oversees all of the projects within an organization and supports all of the project managers within an organization. PMOs can be organized to manage all projects within an organization, within departments, or even by the nature of the project work, such as IT versus marketing. Sometimes, a project management office might be called a project office or a program office.

Most PMOs support the project manager and the project team through software, training, templates, standardized policies, and procedures. PMOs often coordinate communications across projects, offer mentoring to project managers, and help resolve issues between project team members, project managers, and stakeholders. Project managers working with a PMO typically report to a chief project officer or program officer, depending on the organizational structure.

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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