As you can tell from this first chapter, managing projects is not for the faint of heart. You must master multiple skills and techniques in order to complete projects successfully. In your day-to-day work environment, it probably doesn't matter much if you're working in a functional or strong matrix organization. More important are your communication, conflict management, and negotiation and influencing skills. And good communications are the hallmark of successful projects. (We'll talk more about communication and give you some communication tips in the coming chapters.)
In any organizational structure, you'll find leaders, and you'll find people who have the title of leader. Again, the organizational structure itself probably isn't as important as knowing who the real leaders and influencers are in the organization. These are the people you'll lean on to help with difficult project decisions and hurdles.
FIGuRE 1.8 Project management process groups
I talked about the definition of a project in this chapter. You'd be surprised how many people think ongoing operations are projects. Here's a tip to help you explain the definition to your stakeholders: projects involve the five project process groups (Initiating through Closing). Ongoing operations typically involve the Planning, Executing, and Monitoring and Controlling processes. But here's the differentiator—ongoing operations don't include Initiating or Closing process groups because ongoing operations don't have a beginning or an end.
Most projects I've ever worked on involved more than one stakeholder. And stakeholders often have conflicting interests. On your next project, make certain to find out what those stakeholder interests are. It's easier to resolve conflicts at the beginning of the project than it is at the end. Resolving conflicts will likely involve negotiating and influencing skills.
I've made the mistake of thinking the project process groups are overkill for a small project. My team once embarked on a small project and thought that within a matter of weeks we'd have it wrapped up and delivered. We neglected to get signatures from the project requestor on the agreed-upon scope, and you guessed it, the scope grew and grew and changed several times before we were able to get the project back under control. If you're reading between the lines here, you can also tell we didn't have adequate change control in place. As you progress through the book, I'll highlight the important processes you'll want to include on all projects, large and small, so you don't get caught in this trap.
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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.