Business and Process of HPT: Project Management
What is a project?
The Project Management Institute (2006) defines a project as a “temporary endeavor undertaken to provide a unique product or service” (p. 4). Based on this definition, just about everyone, at some time or another, manages a project. Whether that project is organizing a closet, planning a party, or designing a performance intervention, each shares these common characteristics:
PMI defines a project as…
Which means that…
Once the result is produced, the project ends. It may take months or even years to complete the project, but, unlike general management, a project does not encompass the organization’s ongoing, continuous operations (when a project is completed, it may become part of the organization’s ongoing operation).
Projects involve a coordinated series of activities, tasks, and deliverables performed by one or more people.
Projects have specific goals and success factors (the project charter) and deliverables—interim outputs required to complete the project.
Projects produce something new. A project is undertaken to produce a unique product or service. What’s new may be an enhancement to something that already exists, for example, a software upgrade, or it may be altogether new, such as a completely new software system.
Projects results may be tangible outputs, for example, software, training systems, or a manufacturing warehouse.
Or projects produce intangible outputs, for example, a consulting service, but not the actual day-to-day consulting operation.
Projects defined. Adapted from Shackleford (2004).
So, what is project management?
Project management is the art and science of directing and controlling a project. The Project Management Institute (2006) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to the project’s activities for the purpose of meeting or exceeding stakeholders’ needs and expectations” (p. 4). What does this mean in practice? According to the Project Management Institute, a project manager typically applies these nine knowledge areas throughout the project life cycle to manage a project:
Project integration management. The process of building the project plan to meet the requirements of the project charter. The project charter defines the project’s vision, mission, scope, objectives, assumptions, and constraints. Based on the project charter, the project manager defines the milestones, builds the project schedule, and identifies the resources required.
Project scope management. The process of ensuring that the project activities are focused on defined project goals. “Scope creep” occurs when the project goals change during the project due to change requests, both internal and external to the project. Scope management can be one of the most challenging aspects of project management.
Project time management. The process of identify what activities and tasks need to be accomplished when. The project manager defines the activities/tasks and their sequencing and duration.
Project cost management. The process of defining the resources required to complete the project and the cost of each resource—creating and controlling the project budget.
Project quality management. The process of defining, evaluating, and controlling the quality of each deliverable in terms of the overall project goals.
Tuckman (1965) defines four stages that teams experience to become fully functioning:
roject human resource management. The process of identifying resources, managing their activities, and influencing their behavior to create and sustain a project team. Project management requires leadership skills to influence the contributions of project team members who generally do not report to the project manager.
Forming. Team members rely on the team leader or project manager for direction and continue to perform as individual contributors.
Storming. Team members have stronger clarity around team goals, but compete with each other for position and authority within the team.
Norming. Roles and responsibilities are clarified, and team members reach agreement and consensus on team activities.
Performing. The team has a shared vision and works cooperatively to achieve it.
Project communication management. The process of identifying and keeping key stakeholders informed about the project during its development. Russ-Eft and Preskill (2001) define stakeholders as those who have a vested interest in the project. They identify three levels of stakeholders:
Primary. These individuals “own” some part of the project: objectives, process, or results; without their support the project won’t succeed. Typically they identify the project goals and vision, and fund the project.
Secondary. These individuals are more removed from the project outcomes and process than primary stakeholders, but have an interest in the outcomes, for example, managers of a customer service center that will be part of a new enterprise-wide call routing system.
Tertiary. These individuals typically have interest in the project from a future perspective, for example, potential users of a software system that may be leveraged to another business unit.
Project risk management. The process of identifying, evaluating potential impact, responding to, and controlling risks and threats to the project.
Project procurement management. The process of soliciting and managing outside resources, such as the RFP process and vendor management.
These knowledge and skill areas are applied throughout the project and are necessary to ensure the project’s successful conclusion.
Case study 1. Nelson, T. (2006). A PMO-asis in the silicon desert. Projects@Work. Retrieved April 19, 2006 from http://www.projectsatwork.com/content/articles/230565.cfm
Presenting statement. Chandler, AZ is a fast-growing Phoenix suburb whose Information Technology (IT) division was unable to keep pace with requirements and mandates for technology solutions and services. The city’s quick growth caused projects to languish for three to four years, to be abandoned due to non-completion, or even disappear altogether. The city recognized the need to implement a sound project management methodology to its IT division.
Process. The city hired two experienced project managers (three additional PMs were hired within a year) who advocated the creation of a centralized Project Management Office (PMO). The goal was to introduce standard processes and develop a common, consistent knowledge base for project managers and team members. The ultimate goal was to transform the PMO into a center of excellence. A key component of that effort was to ensure that the city and the IT division embraced project management as part of the cultural fabric. The PMO director introduced a model to facilitate oversight by the city of IT projects, a portal that provides detailed, task level information on every IT project in progress and completed, and processes for shortening timelines and challenging team members to deliver results that beat industry standards.
Results. On-schedule project completion is “significantly above the industry standard,” recently reaching 85%. The PMO has instituted processes and practices that are accepted by involved city employees because they make business sense.
Case study 2. Josler, C. and Burger, J. (2005). Project management methodology in human resource management [Electronic version]. College and University Professional Association for Human Resources Journal 56(2). Retrieved April 19, 2006 from http://www.dartmouth.edu/~hrs/news/project_management.pdf
Presenting statement. The Office of Human Resources at Dartmouth College planned to implement a new process of open enrollment for benefits. They decided to use a defined project management methodology to ensure success and add value to the human resources function.
Project life cycle is a collection of project phases that are determined by the type of project and industry. A generic project life cycle looks like this (Greer, 1999):
rocess. The project management methodology applied at Dartmouth involved the following phases:
Initiation. The project objective was defined with very specific language and the project scope was determined based on the objective.
Planning. The team identified the system changes that an open enrollment process required. They created a project plan that identified and tracked all project tasks using Microsoft Project.
Implementation. The team compiled weekly status reports to update stakeholders on the project’s progress, team decisions, objectives for the next week, and issues/concerns.
Project close-out. The team produced a final report for stakeholders that identified the project goals, challenges, outcomes, and remaining issues.
Results. The Office of Human Resources identified multiple benefits to applying a project management methodology to their work:
The project was completed on time.
Risks were identified and avoided, or responded to quickly without significant impact to the project.
The process facilitated collaboration.
The process ensured higher quality outcomes.
Buzzwords, current trends, and hot topics
Critical Path Method (CPM). A means to determine which tasks in a project must be completed on time for the entire project to be completed on time, and which tasks can be delayed and still meet project deadlines.
Critical Path Method diagram. NetMBA. Retrieved April 19, 2006 from http://www.netmba.com/operations/project/cpm/
Work breakdown structure (WBS). A structure for project components (tasks, activities) that defines the total scope of the project. Usually depicted in an organization chart or outline format.
Work Breakdown Structure chart. Wikipedia. Retrieved April 19, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_breakdown_structure
Project management has a large number of terms, acronyms, and initialisms; too many to cover here. These terms are defined in numerous project management books and on the PMI website (http://www.pmi.org).
Risk-based project management (RBPM). A project management process to identify project risks, the likelihood of each risk occurring, the impact each risk poses to the project’s success, and responses for each risk should it occur.
Six Sigma. A methodology to identify, measure, and control workplace processes and performance improvement efforts. Six Sigma encompasses the DMAIC model for process improvement:
Originally used in manufacturing plants and settings, the Six Sigma methodology is now widely used in knowledge and service industries.
Integrated project teams. A centralized functional team comprising the core competencies required for the project that has final authority for all project decision-making.
Emotional intelligence. Proposes that capabilities other than intelligence—self-awareness, self-regulation, perception, relationship—are more important to success than mental ability. Emotional intelligence is a key predictor of project success.
J. M. Juran is a pioneer in the quality management field. He popularized the Pareto Principle, which distinguishes the “vital few” from the “trivial many;” in other words, that 20% of anything (people, defects, time) is responsible for 80% of the result. Juran founded the Juran Institute, a leading quality management consulting organization.
Harold Kerzner is a leading project management educator and consultant. He is Professor of Systems Management at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. As president of Project Management Associates, a consulting firm, he has worked with organizations ranging from Disney to Cray Research to the Department of Defense. More than 200,000 participants have attended Dr. Kerzner’s lectures on project management.
Rita Mulcahy is a recognized authority on project management techniques. She has over 15 years and US $2.5 billion worth of hands-on project experience. Her firm, RMC Project Management, specializes in training and developing project management expertise, including courseware and resources for passing the Project Management Institute’s certification program.
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Buttrick, R. (2000). The interactive project workout: Reap rewards from all your business projects, 2nd ed. London, U.K.: Pearson Education Limited.
Dobson, M. (2003). Streetwise project management: How to manage people, processes, and time to achieve the results you need. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
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Kerzner, H. (1998). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling, 7th ed. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.
Overfield, K. (1998). Developing and managing organizational learning: A guide to effective training project management. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
Project Mangement Institute. Project management website. http://www.pmi.org/info/default.asp
Projects at Work. Projects@work website. http://www.projectsatwork.com/
Richman, L. (2006). Improving your project management skills. New York, NY: AMACOM.
Six Sigma. Six Sigma website. http://www.isixsigma.com/
Greer, M. (1999). Planning and managing human performance technology projects. In Stolovitch, H. and Keeps, E. (Eds), Handbook of human performance technology (pp. 96—121). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
Project Management Institute (2006). A guide to the project management body of knowledge, 3rd ed. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Russ-Eft, D. and Preskill, H. (2001). Evaluation in organizations: A systematic approach to enhancing learning, performance, and change. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.
Shackelford, B. (2004). Project management training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
Tuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups [Electronic version]. Retrieved April 19, 2006 from http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/references/GROUP%20DEV%20ARTICLE.doc
Ward, J. (2005). Project management: Techniques for adaptive action. Chief Learning Officer 4(12), pp. 20—24.