Project Management is the discipline of planning, organising, securing, managing, leading, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.
A project is a temporary endeavour with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value.
The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services.
A project may or may not be part of a programme.
Ensure there are effective reporting arrangements from the programme or project into the higher-level corporate environment.
The content of a project business case should be adapted to meet the requirements of the specific project. For example, a large project where it is likely that there will be greater risk than with a small project will need more detailed information in the business case. The business case must be kept up to date, showing approved changes.
A business case generally provides information on:
- the background of the programme and why it is needed
- what options have been considered and which one has been chosen (including the ‘do nothing’ option)
- the expected benefits and disbenefits
- the costs, investment appraisal and funding arrangements
- the risks and impact on the business case
- a summary of the delivery of the outputs and benefits
Roles and responsibilities
In a small project, the organisation may be very simple with just a sponsor who’s the manager who wants the project and is paying for it, a Project Manager who often does some of the project work alongside managing it, and then perhaps one of two more people who help with the work as a team members.
Generally a project ends with a deliverable/output. However, some projects can deliver benefits. It is, therefore, important that a project defines at the start if it is delivering outputs or benefits. If a project is delivering outputs it must work with whoever is responsible for the benefits and agree how and when the outputs will be handed‑over.
Risk management at a project level is focussed on individual risks that, should they occur, will affect the project’s objectives.
Projects range from simple to complex and plans must reflect the nature of the project. The project team should tailor the tools and techniques that are available to the needs of the project. However, the focus of the plan may be on delivery and how the outputs will be handed over and may contain:
- key milestones
- details of the resources required to carry out the work
- phasing and detailed timings for the activities to complete the work
- timings for the outputs to be handed over
The purpose of resourcing activity is to determine the number, type and timing of the resources needed to complete the project successfully. Because projects may be competing for a particular type of resource it is essential that a resource plan exists at project level that can be used, with others, as basis for programme resource planning at a higher level and for management of the resource pool.
Stakeholders are individuals or groups with an interest in the project because they are involved in the work or affected by the outcomes. Stakeholder management is a vital activity irrespective of the size and complexity of the project. A project should document the level of interest and influence of stakeholders.
Project owners should be clear about when the project has delivered what it set out to do and that information required to support the business as usual environment is documented and readily available.
The project manager could speak to other project managers or research similar projects. Keeping a project diary with a focus on lessons learned could improve the effectiveness of project management.