Project management

It is obvious that project management is not new. Noah must have managed one of the earliest recorded projects in the Bible - the building of the ark. He may not have completed it to budget, but he certainly had to finish it by a specified time - before the flood and it must have met his performance criteria, as it successfully accommodated a pair of all the animals.

There are many published definitions of project management, but the following definition covers all the important ingredients:

The planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it, in order to achieve the project objectives within agreed criteria of time, cost and performance.

While this definition includes the fundamental criteria of time, cost and performance, the operative word, as far as the management aspect is concerned, is 'motivation'. A project will not be successful unless all (or at least most) of the participants are not only competent but also motivated to produce a satisfactory outcome.

To achieve this, a number of methods, procedures and techniques have been developed, which together with the general management and people skills, enable the project manager to meet the set criteria of time cost and performance/quality in the most effective way.

Many textbooks divide the skills required in project management into hard skills (or topics) and soft skills. This division is not exact and some are clearly interdependent. Furthermore it depends on the type of organization, type and size of project and the authority given to a project manager, and which of the listed topics are in his or her remit for a particular project. For example in many large construction companies, the project manager is not permitted to get involved in industrial (site) disputes as these are more effectively resolved by specialist industrial relations managers who are conversant with the current labour laws, national or local labour agreements and site conditions.

The hard skills cover such subjects as business case, cost control, change management, project life cycles, work breakdown structures, project organization, network analysis, earned value analysis, risk management, quality management, estimating, tender analysis and procurement.

The soft topics include health and safety, stakeholder analysis, team building, leadership, communications, information management, negotiation, conflict management, dispute resolutions, value management, configuration management, financial management, marketing and sales, and law.

A quick inspection of the two types of topics shows that the hard subjects are largely only required for managing projects, while the soft ones can be classified as general management and are more or less necessary for any type of business operation whether running a design office, factory, retail outlet, financial services institution, charity, public service organization, national or local government or virtually any type of commercial undertaking.

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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