PROJECT MANAGEMENT


A technique to manage your business for profit

 P-1In a situation when SMB’s (small and medium size businesses) in North America is recovering from the worst recession of the modern times, their will power, strategic planning, and innovative ideas will help them in steering their way out of the choppy economy. Hence, if you are a SMB owner then it is time to re-look the way you are managing your business and act prudently before it’s too late. You should obtain unbiased opinion from expert consultants and fine tune your business to overcome the shock. Even if your business is doing well, it is advisable to get it checked periodically to maintain good financial health or increase efficiency; the way we get checked ourselves by health specialists to avoid reoccurring of disease or malfunctioning of our internal organs.

To identify causes for falling revenue or to find obstacles in increasing the revenue is a P-2project and to research, investigate, advise and implement recommendations for change is project management. The project of change management  goes through the entire process of your doing business including decision making, communication between different units or departments, operational lay out, financial position, manufacturing process, accounting process, distribution & logistics, sales & marketing, etc. Therefore, it is high time; you should understand the importance of project management to improve profitability of your business.

Project Management provides total control on your planning including finances and its execution with positive results. It lays down tools and techniques to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close your projects successfully. Therefore being a SMB, you should hire the services of experienced management consultants or a project manager, in executing the tasks of a project.P-3

Management consulting versus project management:

Management consulting and project management are like what gloves are to hands. They go together. The end result of management consulting marks the beginning of a project of change management. Management consulting identifies the root cause of troubles or a drag on business causing shortfall in revenue and project management helps to implement the recommendations methodically and systematically.

Therefore, this article is going to be the first among many in making the concept of project management easy to understand. Every business is different and accordingly the size of consulting project would also be different. It may take a couple of days to weeks in investigating the causes, providing recommendations and bringing change into a business for increasing your revenue. The understanding of project management would also be helpful to you, if you are already participating in large private or public sector projects or planning to participate in one of them. In order to understand the concept of project management, we will have to understand what a project is, what is project management, what are its tools and techniques and how is it managed?

What is a project?

“A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result1.”

“This unique product or deliverable may be a product or artifact that is produced, P-4quantifiable, and can be either an end item in itself or a component item. The unique service may be a capability to perform a service, such as business functions supporting production or distribution and the unique result may be the outcome of a document such as a research project develops knowledge that can be used to determine whether or not a trend is present or a new process will benefit society1.”

Since projects are temporary endeavours and create a unique product, hence on a basic level, a project can be any homework given by schools to their students or travelling abroad or raising funds for charity etc. On an advance level it can be anything ranging from building roads, bridges, homes, new vehicular models, power plants, space ships, development of new software, research and investigation, implementation of a unique plan or proposal or recommendations etc.

In case of a SMB (Small and Medium size Business), projects can be starting a new business or units or division or establishment of an overseas branch, installation of  a new machinery or plant, developing or promoting new products and services, investigating causes for wastage and falling revenue, research and implement recommendations for increasing  revenue, implementation of recommendations for improving operational efficiency, researching on factors affecting the operational cost, planning for change in management decision methods and improving communications with different levels or departments, participating in turn-key projects, business turnaround, business re-engineering, sales & marketing projects etc.

Since a project is the outcome of an aim or purpose, it provides direction and contains synergy in its successful implementation. However a project must have interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period of time with certain costs and limitations.

This is the reason that successful implementation of a project cannot be addressed within the normal operational limits of an organization. Projects are often utilized as a means of achieving an organization’s strategic plan, whether the project team is employed by the organization or is a contracted service provider.

Project Management:

“Project management is a methodology and application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements1.” A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Hence, projects are not ongoing efforts and it is different than the operation which is a continuous effort.  In other words, operations are ongoing and repetitive, while projects are temporary and unique. Being temporary in nature, every project has a definite beginning and a definite end. The duration of a project may last from couple of days to several months and in every case the duration of a project is finite.

In case of SMB’s, the methodology of project management can be helpful in understanding and handling their small to medium size projects. The role of an experienced project P-5manager/consultants include:

  • Identifying requirements
  • Establishing clear and achievable  objectives
  • Balancing the competing demands for quality, scope, time and cost
  • Adapting the specifications, plans, and approach to different concerns and expectations of the various stakeholders1

Project Management Process Groups:

Project management is implemented within a framework of five main processes which are also called project management process groups. These are:

  • Initiating process groups
  • Planning process group
  • Executing process group
  • Monitoring and Controlling process group and
  • Closing process group

Project management process groups are linked to each other by the objectives they produce. The output of one process generally becomes an input to another process or is a deliverable of the project. These process groups are overlapping activities that occur at varying levels of intensity throughout the project. If the project is divided into phases, the Process Groups interact within a project phase and also may cross the project phases.

Project Management Knowledge Areas:

In order to execute a project and coordinate various activities involved therein, the five project management process groups are implemented through nine knowledge areas depending upon the nature and size of a project. They are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communication Management
  • Project Risk Management and
  • Project Procurement Management

The nine knowledge areas lays down 44 processes to be undertaken while implementing the five project management process groups.

Besides those listed above, various tools and techniques are used to plan, identify, ascertain and comprehend project activities such as work break down structures (WBS), Critical Path Analysis, Delphi Technique, Earned Value Technique (EVT), Expected Monetary Value (EMV) Analysis, Influence Diagram, Gantt Chart, Pareto Chart, Parametric Estimating, Progressive Elaboration, Resource Leveling,  Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), Risk Mitigation, Rolling Wave Planning, Root Cause Analysis, Total Float etc.

In the next article, we will be discussing five process groups, their relevancy to your business and how they are going to help you understand project management, if you would like to turnaround your business for profit or become competitive or best in the products and services you are offering.

……..to be continued.

Suman Saran Sinha, CMC

1 PMBOK Guide, Third Edition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PROJECT MANAGEMENT PART- 1 & 2


And Daily Chores of Life (c)

The word project and project management always seemed to me a process which only a professional having an expertise in the execution of a project can understand and perform. I am yet to be certified as a PMP (Project Management Professional), but my extensive courses from Waterloo University have made me understand that unless one knows the principles and methodology of executing a task, it will not be possible to arrive at a desired result, within a time frame while considering all the constraints.  However, project management should not be the bastion of professionals only but it should be practiced by everybody in their normal lives. In fact, our lives are full of projects which we keep managing on a daily basis, and if we have some knowledge of project management, then our daily lives will become smoother and free of hurdles. My idea of writing articles on project management is not meant for professionals who participate in million dollar projects worldwide, but for people who maintain a minimum budget for a small project, and which they keep managing knowingly or unknowingly in their day to day life.

Hence, my endeavour is to write monthly articles on every issue in our daily lives, which otherwise may seem funny to talk about, or to discuss. I personally believe that sometimes, the nonsensical way of describing a topic may derive more meanings to convey the instant messages to the common mass than topics presented in a complicated way. Through this blog, I would like to utilise all nine areas of Project Management, and how these areas can be applied in a personal or homely scenario.  Even if one reader of this blog understands the methodology and uses it in his or her life, then my purpose of writing will be served. The Project Management Institute or PMI, keeps publishing newsletters and journals which are meant for members or professionals, but my blog is for every householder who would like to take advantage of this scientific technique to make life easy.

There can be various scenarios in our normal lives which may look like projects and unless completed or accomplished, creates a lot of tension and pressure. Those scenarios can be daily cooking, studying, going on a vacation, travelling abroad, immigration, marriage of sons or daughters, or renovating a house etc. Therefore, I am planning to write an article every month either in parts or in series of a project, and I would like to have your suggestions and feedback in improving my thought process as well as that of our readers. I have tried to make this blog interesting for the readers while using the prescribed methodology.

Before I discuss the topic, it is important to understand what a project is; what triggers the requirement of a project and how the nine knowledge areas of Project Management are applied in order to accomplish projects of any size in the world.

What is a Project?

A project has been defined as a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Therefore on a larger scale, constructions of road, bridges, buildings, housing complexes, technological or software developments, research, designing of a space shuttle or anything unique which comes out of the endeavour is considered a project. The same way, anything new and unique made at home can be considered as a project, such as the cooking of a new recipe. There is a difference between a project and an operation. Operations are ongoing and repetitive, while projects are temporary and unique.  In a manufacturing plant, if a particular model of a car is being produced, then it is an operation whereas, designing a new model is a project. Factors triggering the requirements of a project are a demand, or the need or a necessity or a requirement. Therefore at a micro level, the need to feed ourselves or the necessity to prepare different dishes due to the arrival of guests triggers the project of cooking.

What is Project Management?

The skills, tools, techniques and how we apply them to achieve the successful completion of a project is called project management. The process of project management requires the identification of requirements for a project and establishes a clear and achievable objective for a project. It also helps in balancing the competing demands for quality, scope, time, cost, and adapting the specifications and plans, and approach to the different concerns and expectations of the stakeholders. Here, the project managers often talk about “triple constraints” – project scope, time and cost which we will also be discussing on a kitchen table or in the living room in different parts of the blog.

Now, in order to make our homely project successful, we have to have a kind of Code of Ethics and Code of Personal Conduct without which, a project will not be completed in a disciplined manner. A project has to go through several processes and many of the processes within project management are iterative because of the existence of, and necessity for, progressive elaboration (it means developing in steps, and continuing by increments but different than the ‘Scope Creep’) in a project throughout the project’s life cycle. We will talk about Scope Creep in our subsequent issues and as we will progress in our project.

In order to be a successful Project Manager, whether it is multi-million dollar project or a kitchen project, we will have to manage the project in five process groups which are:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

No project can be started unless a process of initiation is made and then planned properly. In order to execute the planning, it needs to be monitored and controlled to see that all steps or processes are being performed as planned and then the project is properly closed and documented to make it a reference guide for future projects.

To create a standard for the management of projects, the Project management Institute or PMI has defined 9 project management knowledge areas involving 3 to 7 processes in each knowledge area and as such there should be 44 project management processes involved to complete a project.

The nine knowledge areas are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communication Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management

My endeavour is to involve as many processes to complete our project in an easily understandable language. As such in my next article, I will take one household project and like to apply all the processes and the knowledge areas in order to accomplish my household project. Therefore, watch for my next article on the blog!

Your valuable comments and suggestions will certainly enlighten all the stakeholders in general and will provide strength and encouragement in my effort in particular.

PART-II

In continuation of the Part-1 of the Project Management, we embark upon a kitchen project and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the project may be as follows:

Project Number:              2011

Funding Source:                               Personal

Issue Date and Time:      January 1st, 2011 9:00 am

Closing Date and Time:  January 1st, 2011 1:00 pm

The members of a household (HH) have invited some guests at home for a Lunch. There will be six people in total and the food should be prepared accordingly so that they are sufficient to everybody. There should be at least two staple items like pasta and bread and two non veg items either meat, chicken or fish and at least one vegetable with or without curry and some green salads. Amongst the side dishes may be some yogurt, pickles and ice cream or sweets. Wine or soft drink or both may be served before serving the meal. The HH will have the option to serve fruits in place of sweets depending upon the eating preferences of guests. The meal must be served at 1:00 pm and a penalty may be slapped in case of any delay.

Maximum Budget for the project is $200.00.

As discussed in part-1, every project requires five processes or process groups such as Initiating Process (Group),Planning Process, Executing Process, Monitoring Process and Closing Process (Since this project do not involve very many people hence we will be withholding the word ‘Group’), as such we will have to commence our project by working on Initiating Process.

INITIATING PROCESS (GROUP):

This process will facilitate the formal authorization to start the project and consists of two processes which are:

1)      Develop Project Charter: This process involves a contract or an authorization, project statement of work, enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets as its input and the output of this process is a Project Charter.

2)      Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement: This process addresses and documents the project and deliverable requirements, product requirements, boundaries of the project, methods of acceptance, and high level scope control. Output of the Develop Project Charter becomes the input of this process by replacing contract.

The above process provides a guideline as how to initiate our kitchen project.

1) Develop Project Charter:

i) Contract A verbal authorization (contract) to commence on the project has been received.

ii) Project Statement of Work (SOW)- As per the SOW which is a narrative description of products or services and that  indicates

  • Business Need– This includes the demand of host as well guests, essential requirements, any training to understand a particular item etc.
  • Product Scope Description:  This will include the requirements of different materials and ingredients for cooking, types of ingredients etc. These requirements should also be able to establish relationship among the items being cooked.
  • Strategic Plan– Need to prepare a plan how we are going to execute the task.

iii) Enterprise (Home Kitchen) Environment Factors: The factors which may influence the success of the cooking project needs to be considered such as:

  • Organizational Structure- How cooking is made. The layout, space etc.
  • Industry Standards- The product and quality standards of the Home Kitchen (HK). Does the enterprise (HK) comply with the environmental regulation such as proper ventilation, smoke detection system etc?
  • Infrastructure- Type of stove, availability of oven, microwave, grinder, mixer etc.
  • Human Resources- Does the HK have the facility of a temporary or contractual helper or nanny.
  • Stakeholders risk tolerances – Whether the food should be hot or mild or as described in the SOW. Etc.

iv) Organizational Process Assets: When developing the project charter, any assets that are used to influence the project’s success can be drawn from organizational (Home Kitchen) process assets which may included a recipe book, performance measurement criteria (tasting of food), any work breakdown structure  (WBS) template(means how to start cooking, how much and when to put in spices, salt, garlic paste etc), Communication requirements (how and what stage the stakeholders should be informed about the progress), Project Closure Guidelines(cleaning or keeping the utensils and other gadgets, use of detergents or disinfectants to clean kitchen after the project is over) Defect management control– (how to deal with extra salt or burned items), Risk control procedure, probably and impact matrix (how to deal with fire or other extraordinary circumstances) etc.

Now in order to Develop Project Charter (Our Kitchen Project’s Charter) following tools and technique are used:

a)      Project Selection Methods– This method is used to determine which project the organization will select. In our case we have already selected the project.

b)      Project Management Methodology– It can be a either a formal mature process or an informal technique that aids a project management team in effectively developing a project charter. From our project point of view it means that whether we are going to use lot of frying or baking or grilling most of our items.

c)       Project Management Information System (PMIS) – It is a standardized set of automated tools available within the organization and in our case it means that how we are going to communicate with the stakeholders and get their feedback.

d)      Expert Judgement– is used to asses the inputs needed to develop the project charter. This can be helpful in understanding the technical and management details during the process (cooking).

It seems to be a lengthy procedure in writing but believe me our brain calculates the above technique and procedures in seconds. The difference is that in a smaller project like cooking in a kitchen does not require writing the procedure but brainstorming is very much involved. In a multi million dollar project several people and departments are involved, hence in order to coordinate the working all the steps need to be identified and recorded in order to communicate, others to understand and find shortcomings for improvement.

Therefore watch for my next blog and I will be continuing the remaining part of the Initiative Process (Group).

Your comments are solicited.

To be continued…….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PROJECT MANAGEMENT PART-1


And Daily Chores of Life (c)

The word project and project management always seemed to me a process which only a professional having an expertise in the execution of a project can understand and perform. I am yet to be certified as a PMP (Project Management Professional), but my extensive courses from Waterloo University have made me understand that unless one knows the principles and methodology of executing a task, it will not be possible to arrive at a desired result, within a time frame while considering all the constraints.  However, project management should not be the bastion of professionals only but it should be practiced by everybody in their normal lives. In fact, our lives are full of projects which we keep managing on a daily basis, and if we have some knowledge of project management, then our daily lives will become smoother and free of hurdles. My idea of writing articles on project management is not meant for professionals who participate in million dollar projects worldwide, but for people who maintain a minimum budget for a small project, and which they keep managing knowingly or unknowingly in their day to day life.

Hence, my endeavour is to write monthly articles on every issue in our daily lives, which otherwise may seem funny to talk about, or to discuss. I personally believe that sometimes, the nonsensical way of describing a topic may derive more meanings to convey the instant messages to the common mass than topics presented in a complicated way. Through this blog, I would like to utilise all nine areas of Project Management, and how these areas can be applied in a personal or homely scenario.  Even if one reader of this blog understands the methodology and uses it in his or her life, then my purpose of writing will be served. The Project Management Institute or PMI, keeps publishing newsletters and journals which are meant for members or professionals, but my blog is for every householder who would like to take advantage of this scientific technique to make life easy.

There can be various scenarios in our normal lives which may look like projects and unless completed or accomplished, creates a lot of tension and pressure. Those scenarios can be daily cooking, studying, going on a vacation, travelling abroad, immigration, marriage of sons or daughters, or renovating a house etc. Therefore, I am planning to write an article every month either in parts or in series of a project, and I would like to have your suggestions and feedback in improving my thought process as well as that of our readers. I have tried to make this blog interesting for the readers while using the prescribed methodology.

Before I discuss the topic, it is important to understand what a project is; what triggers the requirement of a project and how the nine knowledge areas of Project Management are applied in order to accomplish projects of any size in the world.

What is a Project?

A project has been defined as a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Therefore on a larger scale, constructions of road, bridges, buildings, housing complexes, technological or software developments, research, designing of a space shuttle or anything unique which comes out of the endeavour is considered a project. The same way, anything new and unique made at home can be considered as a project, such as the cooking of a new recipe. There is a difference between a project and an operation. Operations are ongoing and repetitive, while projects are temporary and unique.  In a manufacturing plant, if a particular model of a car is being produced, then it is an operation whereas, designing a new model is a project. Factors triggering the requirements of a project are a demand, or the need or a necessity or a requirement. Therefore at a micro level, the need to feed ourselves or the necessity to prepare different dishes due to the arrival of guests triggers the project of cooking.

What is Project Management?

The skills, tools, techniques and how we apply them to achieve the successful completion of a project is called project management. The process of project management requires the identification of requirements for a project and establishes a clear and achievable objective for a project. It also helps in balancing the competing demands for quality, scope, time, cost, and adapting the specifications and plans, and approach to the different concerns and expectations of the stakeholders. Here, the project managers often talk about “triple constraints” – project scope, time and cost which we will also be discussing on a kitchen table or in the living room in different parts of the blog.

Now, in order to make our homely project successful, we have to have a kind of Code of Ethics and Code of Personal Conduct without which, a project will not be completed in a disciplined manner. A project has to go through several processes and many of the processes within project management are iterative because of the existence of, and necessity for, progressive elaboration (it means developing in steps, and continuing by increments but different than the ‘Scope Creep’) in a project throughout the project’s life cycle. We will talk about Scope Creep in our subsequent issues and as we will progress in our project.

In order to be a successful Project Manager, whether it is multi-million dollar project or a kitchen project, we will have to manage the project in five process groups which are:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

No project can be started unless a process of initiation is made and then planned properly. In order to execute the planning, it needs to be monitored and controlled to see that all steps or processes are being performed as planned and then the project is properly closed and documented to make it a reference guide for future projects.

To create a standard for the management of projects, the Project management Institute or PMI has defined 9 project management knowledge areas involving 3 to 7 processes in each knowledge area and as such there should be 44 project management processes involved to complete a project.

The nine knowledge areas are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communication Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management

My endeavour is to involve as many processes to complete our project in an easily understandable language. As such in my next article, I will take one household project and like to apply all the processes and the knowledge areas in order to accomplish my household project. Therefore, watch for my next article on the blog!

Your valuable comments and suggestions will certainly enlighten all the stakeholders in general and will provide strength and encouragement in my effort in particular.

Wish you all a very happy New Year 2011.

Suman Saran Sinha

Certified Management Consultant

Posted in Project Management | Tagged | Leave a comment