This is the first post in an eight part series that covers the fundamental theory of project management. It is loosely based on the theoretical part of our online learning course Hands on Project Management Theory and Practice. Each post will deal with a different project management area of knowledge.
According to the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Due to the non-repetitive nature of projects, the ability to collect information and to use it to plan future projects is limited. Most projects are performed under uncertainty and consequently risk is presented.
The focus of this series is project management, which according to the PMBOK® Guide Guide is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities, in order to meet or exceed stakeholder’s needs and expectations from a project.
The PMBOK® Guide consists of ten knowledge areas dealing with the management of:
- Project integration
- Human resources
- Stake holders
The need to learn the tools and techniques of project management and to develop skills is obvious when you look at the statistics of project success. Different groups constantly collect information about success rates in project management. According to a recent report only 33% of projects were delivered on budget. Only 29% were delivered on time and only 35% actually delivered stated deliverables.
The goal of project teams is to achieve project success. The success is measured by the stakeholders. Therefore, the first step in a project is usually mapping the stakeholders, understanding who they are, what their needs and expectations are, how important they are and how they are affected by the project, the problem it’s going to solve and the solution itself. Based on all this data the project goals and the project constraints are defined.
Stakeholders mapping is just the first step in a long sequence of activities that the project lifecycle is consisted of. Actually, stakeholder mapping is like defining the problem space. After goals and constraints are defined we can come up with the solution criteria – how to select the best solution of all possible project plans. Of course we have to come up with the different project plans as well. Based on this, a tradeoff analysis is performed to compare and to evaluate the different plans, based on the solution criteria in order to find the best or preferred solution.
Once the preferred solution is selected the next step is to formulate a plan or a strategy that can be implemented. This is called the baseline. The baseline consists of a schedule, budget, resource plan, scope plan, and several other plans that are integrated together. Once a baseline is formed and agreed upon, it is possible to implement it. However, because of uncertainty implementation should be subject to a monitoring and control process by which a comparison is made between the actual performance of the project and the plan.
If there are deviations, analysis is required to see if corrective actions should be taken. At the end of the project a debriefing session is performed in order to learn as much as possible from the project. Root cause analysis is used to find out why the project succeeded or failed, what happened in the project and why and what we can learn from whatever we saw during the project lifecycle.
*PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.