This Chapter provides an outline review of the issues surrounding project management. A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result, often used to embed enduring business change. This requires processes that capture agreed benefits from the outset, with mechanisms to monitor progress and delivery. Projects are finite in nature (with agreed start and end points) and there is often a greater level of risk involved, particularly given the challenge of meeting the needs and expectations of a range of stakeholders.
Key project terms are outlined, including stakeholders (those with an interest in a project), programme (organisational frameworks), portfolio (resource management and prioritisation between projects) and benefits (the value the project is expected to deliver). Having placed these terms in context, project management approaches and processes can be considered, particularly the importance of capturing any lessons learned.
The Chapter provides an outline review of PRINCE2™ as a project management methodology. It highlights how this is essentially a collation of best practice approaches supported by a professional practitioner network, utilising a set of stepped elements supporting regular project review points. The importance of starting with a clear and agreed business case is noted, along with the need to focus on the outputs and objectives required. PMBOK® (the Project Manager’s Book of Knowledge) is also discussed, outlining how this is a collective term used to describe the body of knowledge, skills and competences residing within the project management profession. PMBOK® argues for a balance between the application and deployment of knowledge, behaviours and processes and experience is seen as being a particularly critical component. It is suggested that it may be prudent to use PMBOK® as a mechanism to capture innovation and creativity whilst also using more formal process models such as PRINCE2™.
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The essential phases and review points of a project are outlined, including initiation and the need to establish a clear owner for the project. As many unsuccessful projects can attribute their failure to a lack of work at this initiation stage, the critical importance of producing an agreed and resourced project plan is emphasised. Once formally initiated, project definition and design can take place, including the effective engagement of stakeholder to create the clearest possible specification. The aim must be to illustrate how the project will turn agreed requirements into outputs/deliverables before moving into the development and implementation phases. In closing a project, the Chapter outlines the importance of a formal handover of responsibilities and the capturing of lessons learned.
Key project management tools and techniques are summarised, noting how projects should possess a work breakdown structure. Gantt charts and project evaluation and review techniques (network diagrams) are outlined, emphasising the need to identify areas of concurrent activity and important dependencies. Identifying the critical path (by capturing the flow of work over time) is clearly shown to be an essential output of project management. The Chapter closes by re-emphasising the importance of the initial business case to any successful project.
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