What is Project Management

Project management brings together a set of tools and techniques—performed by people — to describe, organize, and monitor the work of project activities. A “Project manager” is a person who manages the project processes and applies the necessary tools and techniques to carry out the project’s activities. Every project comprises of processes, even if it employs a slipshod approach.

Organizing projects and teams around the PMI recommended project management processes has a number of advantages. The PMI has defined project management as follows – “project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques, and practices to project activities to meet project requirements.” The project manager is responsible for ensuring the correct application and implementation of project management techniques.

Project management is a multistep process including planning, putting the project plan into action, and measuring progress and performance. It includes the identification of project requirements, establishing the objectives of the project, taming the restrictions, and keeping the expectations and requirements of the major stakeholders in mind. Planning is the most crucial step during the lifecycle of a project. It sets the tone or a standard of sorts for the entire project and is helpful in measuring the future performance of the project. The following are some of the methods to organize the work of project management:

Programs

A program can be defined as a set of related projects which can be managed using the same techniques in a coordinated fashion. The purpose of managing projects collectively in the form of programs is to capitalize on the advantages that wouldn’t be probable if the projects were managed on an individual basis. A good example of such a case could be building a mega shopping mall where there will be a number of subprojects under a very large program. Under such a large scale program, several subprojects exist, for instance construction, excavation, store placement, interior design, marketing, facilities management etc. Each of these individual subprojects is a project in itself. Each of these projects has its own respective project manager, who has another project manager with responsibility over a number of different areas within the project to report to. This guy in turn has to report to the head project manager who overlooks the entire program. All of these projects are interconnected and should be managed together in order to realize the collective benefits and implement and manage the controls in a coordinated fashion.

Portfolios

A portfolio may be defined as a group of programs and projects which are focussed on achieving a specific objective or goal. Let us consider the example of a construction company. A construction company could have a variety of business units such as single family residential, multi family residential and retail. Hence the retail portfolio of the business will consist of all the projects and programs that fall under the realm of the retail business unit. The example of the shopping mall that we discussed in the previous section is a good example of a program that belongs to the retail portfolio. There could be other projects and programs within this portfolio.

Portfolio

The ultimate goal of a program or project in a portfolio is to fulfill the strategic objectives of the portfolio, which in turn should be consistent with the objectives of the department and eventually the organization.

Portfolio management encompasses managing the collections of programs and projects in the portfolio.This includes weighing the value of each project, or potential project, against the portfolio’s strategic objectives. It also involves making sure that the active projects are true to their objectives and ensuring the effective utilization of the organization’s resources. Portfolio management is usually carried out by a senior and experienced manager in the organization.

Project Management Offices

Project Management Offices, sometimes also called PMOs, have been around for a number of years. Many organizations today are setting up PMOs in many different forms. PMOs may also be called project offices or program management offices. A PMO is normally a centralized unit in an organization that oversees the management of projects and programs in the entire organization. Often companies start a project management office to establish and maintain procedures and standards for project management methodologies. In some instances, project managers might report to the PMO directly. In other cases, the PMO provides guidance and support for projects only and educates others in project management methods and techniques. Still others, have specialists available at hand in order to assist project managers in project planning, estimating, and other important tasks. They act as mentors to junior-level project managers and provide consultation to the senior project managers.