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The chartered management institute define a project as, an activity that has a beginning and an end which is carried out to achieve a particular purpose within given constraints and cost limits.
Project management is a carefully planned and organised effort to accomplish a successful project. A project is a one-time effort that produces a specific result. Project management includes defining and confirming the project goals and objectives, identifying tasks and how goals will be achieved (Lonergan, K., 2005).
SKILLS REQUIRED FOR A PROJECT MANAGER
In order to overcome the challenges related to project triangle (cost, time and quality) and meet the project objectives, the project manager needs to have a range of skills which includes (TutorialPoint.com, 2010):
Better efficiency in delivering services: Project management provides a "roadmap" that is easily followed and leads to project completion.
Improved/increased/enhanced customer satisfaction: Whenever you get a project done on time and under budget, the client walks away happy. And a happy client is one you'll see again. Smart project management provides the tools that enable this client/manager relationship to continue.
Enhanced effectiveness in delivering services: The sameÂ project management strategies that allowed you to successfully complete one project will serve you many times over.
Improved growth and development within your team: Positive results not only command respect but more often than not inspire your team to continue to look for ways to perform more efficiently.
Greater standing and competitive edge: This is not only a good benefit of project management within the workplace but outside of it as well; word travels fast and there is nothing like superior performance to secure your place in the marketplace.
Opportunities to expand your services: A by-product of greater standing. Great performance leads to more opportunities to succeed.
Better Flexibility: Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of project management is that it allows for flexibility. Sure project management allows you to map out the strategy you want to take see your project completed. But the beauty of such organization is that if you discover a smarter direction to take, you can take it.
Increased risk assessment: Project management provides a red flag at the right time: before you start working on project completion.
Increase in Quality: Goes hand-in-hand with enhanced effectiveness
PHASES INVOLVED IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Doing project management will mostly involve the following phases:
Feasibility study- this is done to assess the economic viability of the project (idea). This should provide a detailed analysis of business opportunity, including all the setbacks that might affect the project.
Project planning- this is done to increase the likelihood that a project will be implemented efficiently, effectively and successfully.
Resource allocation- its main aim is to determine quickly what resources you will need, whore are the best people in that area, in order to achieve the organization's purpose.
Risk management analysis- done to examine the negative impact, considering both the probability and the impact of occurrence and how to mitigate this risk.
Ethical analysis of project- this is to clarify what is morally right and wrong. Ethics can include code of ethics, code of conduct, guidelines to resolve ethical dilemmas.
Implantation of project plan- this starts early during the early stages of project management i.e. during planning process.
Earned value management- this measures the progress and value of a project, especially during implementation, if done in an all-inclusive manner and systematically it can reduce cost and provide early detection of problems.
Communicating your project- it is vital to update your stakeholders on status and results of the project.
Evaluating projects and results- during implementation project evaluation is done and after completion in order to assess the quality of activities and achievements of results.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRIANGLE
All projects have constraints; those confinements that restrict the decisions of project managers, most projects have a cost constraint as there will only be a certain budget available to the project and the organisation. A project manager must figure out how to deliver a project given all the constraints. One approach is that of the project management triangle, which identifies three constraints; time, quality, and cost (Brewer, D. 2010).
Figure 1.0 (Source: http://www.tutorialspoint.com/management_concepts/project_management_triangle.htm)
EXPERIMENTS AT GOOGLE INC.
There are number of experiment at Google Inc., this include calendar labs, Gmail labs, Google code labs, Google maps labs, Google wave, search experiments, toolbar labs, an YouTube TestTube.
This experiment are carried out and managed inside the labs until they graduate into out of the labs, when this experiment graduate from the labs, they will now go through the stage/phases of project management until the final product is delivered.
Below are some of the experiments that have graduated from Google Labs: Google chrome, Google Apps, Google Apps Marketplace, Google project hosting, Google Calendar APIs and tools, Image search API etc.
Google is always experimenting with new features aimed at improving for example the search experience; this is to gather more information before the search engine is refined, after doing this that is when the project of refining the search engine can be assigned to a relevant team.
EMEA University Programs
Google's annual EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Faculty Summit which aims at increasing collaboration between key universities and Google's engineering teams is another example of a project, and this entitles project management since that this event has a beginning and an end which is carried out to achieve a particular purpose of collaboration with given constraints and cost limits.
Other events include Tech talks & university visits, Code jam, Google summer of code.
EXAMPLES OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS
In Google Calendar you can have separate calendars with different colour for everyone in your project team. You can assign activities through Google calendar and use simple notes such as priority <1>, done # or question? Google Calendar can be synchronized with your mobile phone which is a great advantage too.
Google Docs is a feature rich online office suite. It lets you to collaborate with multiple users. Google Docs only takes a minute to get all of your users editing the same document in real time.
Other tools are Gcamp, Zoho projects, rapidTask, and smartsheet, to just mention a few.
THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE
The collection of processes and knowledge areas generally accepted as the best practice within the project management discipline is known as PMBOK which stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is the internationally recognized standard which provides the fundamentals of project management, irrespective of the type of project be it construction, software, engineering and automotive. PMBOK has 5 process groups and 9 programs and operations. The five basic process groups are:
Monitoring and Controlling
The diagram above show the five major project management processes. According to Jean-Michel D.J a project is accomplished through the integration of the project management processes. PMBOK uses a variation of the Deming Cycle for continuous improvement with a 5-step lifecycle.
In initiating stage the project is authorized and the organization commit to it or phase. The overall direction is set then the top-level objectives are defined. The project manager is assigned and the necessary approvals and resources.
The definition of project scope and refining of the objectives is done in the planning stage. All the required deliverables are defined and the framework for the project schedule is created. All the required activities are defined and all of them are then put in a sequence. The required skills and resources are identified in this stage
In this stage the resources are coordinated and the team development is done. Quality assurance, selection and approach of subcontractors together with the distribution of the information are done in this stage and work plan.
Monitoring and Controlling
For monitoring and controlling stage the team is managed, stakeholders and subcontractors. The progress is measured and the performance is monitored, the overall, scope, schedule, costs and quality. If the corrective actions are needed they should be taken and the resolution and escalation issued. The risk management is done here for example technical, quality, performance, project management and organizational external. The performance reports and communications are in this stage.
The activities are finalized in this stage and administrative close out for example gather, distribute, archive information to formalize project completion, acceptance/signoff, evaluation, member appraisals and lessons learned. The contract closed out, completion of the project contract including resolution of open items and final formal acceptance.
Project management is often represented on a project management triangle. A successful project manager needs to keep a balance between the triple constraints so that the outcome is not compromised. There are many tools and techniques that are available in order to face the challenges related to the three constraints. Google Inc. offers a number of these tolls that helps manage projects.