Author: Amer Naveed Raja
Effective Project Management
(Lahore, Oct 16, 2006)
The dictionary meaning of project is: Any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted. In it there is no difference between a task and a project. However, in any project necessarily different tasks are undertaken. Therefore, project can be defined as: “an activity aimed at accomplishing certain goal involving set of different tasks ”. From this definition it is clear that any project is a goal, therefore it is vital to clearly explain it. This clarity of definition would help in, ascertaining the resources needed to accomplish it, approval of the authorities, tasks needed to be done, procedures for accomplishing it, setting time framework, people needed to execute it, training and motivating the staff, finances required for its completion, keeping check on it execution, evaluating performance and taking corrective action as required.
Project Management Approach:
In any organization project management approach can be applied for effective and efficient management. In this approach, different objectives can be breakdown into specific projects that helps in, clarifying the tasks needed to be done, better time management and evaluation. In simple words, it is an effective and efficient manner for strategy execution.
Information about the specific project is needed to be gathered by the project manager. This is the most significant step and primary step. This would be the base for planning, execution and control of the project.
Preparing feasibility of the Project:
After gathering information, the next step would preparation of the market and financial feasibility of the project. Cost-benefit-Analysis would be performed at this stage. The selection criterion is not primarily based on financial aspects of the project, because of the overall objectives of the organization. Moreover, benchmarks for selecting the projects would differ from organization to organization and from project to project. Any further pursuance would only be possible after positive viability of the project. Otherwise, this project would be forsaken for general greater good and other steps would not be needed.
Whether independent project or accomplishing any specific objective of the organization requires approval of the concerned authorities. Perhaps presentation would be needed to effectively highlight the ins & outs of the project for getting positive response and winning confidence of the authorities. Any further move can be made after approval, formal or informal depending on the level of confidence and nature of project.
The next would be determining what is to be done and how it is to be done? This is what we call planning. It gives direction, reduces impact of change as well help in adjustments, minimizes waste and redundancy and sets the standards used in control.
Objective Setting:This is the first step in formulating plan for the project. Objectives need to be objective as possible so they can be measured.
Devising strategy:At this stage plan of action is devised for achieving the objectives of the project. It would be set of small plans for different functions of the project.
Setting procedures:Procedures are formulated for integrating and coordinating different activities. This is important for minimizing conflicts and stream ling the workflow. Nonetheless, they should be very well calculated with clear processes otherwise that would result in inefficiency and undue delays. They should be broad that directs the general principles of the organization, market practices and to keep control and coordinate the activities of the project members.
Benchmarks:These are the objective standards for measuring the performance of the project. It gives the team members clarity to assess their own activities as well as a control on overall project. In general they are alphanumeric quantifiable ratings or graded systems.
Planning is a sort of documentation for providing vision as well as standard for a project. However, some kinds of uncontrollable factors always exist that calls for revising the plan to some extent. Therefore, provision for revision should always be left for practical purposes.
After doing all planning towards executing the project is allocating the resources for different functions of the project. Care should be taken that resources should be managed in such a manner that brings in optimal return with provision for some unseen factors. In a practical world option is always for constraint optimization for there always exists some limitations.
The execution of project plan is always done by group of people headed by project manager. Depending on the nature and time scale of the project the kind of people required to execute varies. For the success of project is dependant on the hiring right kind of people for various tasks. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the job specifications for the various functions of the project. It would make the criteria for choosing team members clear.
Communication is the critical factor in making project acceptable and a genuine success. Communication is needed to win the support of the concerned people/groups. The most important aspect of the communication is in internal team environment for shared goals, coordinated & concerted efforts, clarity of thought and motivation. It gives the direction as well as create healthy environment for achieving project goals.
Preparing schedule for completion of tasks in a given period of time helps in goal oriented management style. It gives the team members a sense of responsibility and set accountability standards.
Periodic evaluation of the project completion life cycle is essential for keeping control and making the timely completion of the project possible. Project tasks not only need to be matched against set benchmarks but it also be measured for time schedule. This performance evaluation would aid in maintaining the quality of the project. Moreover, it also helps in assessing the team members
Modification/revising the plan if needed:
There is always possibility for extraordinary element in business environment. Management is not any theoretical exercise rather it is an action oriented practical activity. The theoretical aspect of management plans corroborates this goal. This pragmatism demands for revising the plan to cope with the unexpected or for any other fallacies.
Project management as approach or as single activity is a series of tasks to achieve a certain objective with probable sub objectives. For optimal results planning, coordination, communication, control and evaluation, are necessary elements. Following these steps would result in smooth functioning and guarantee of successful completion.
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