Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.
2 of the most common methodologies are Prince2 and agile.
A project is a means by which a company introduces change
Projects deliver products i.e a new computer system
- PRINCE = Projects in a Controlled environment
- PRINCE2 is currently the most widely-recognised project management methodology in the UK
- PRINCE2 is both a methodology and a de facto standard
- PRINCE2 is sometimes considered inappropriate for small projects or where requirements are expected to change throughout the project. In particular, this is because there is a significant workload in creating and maintaining PRINCE2 documents, logs, registers and lists
- PRINCE2 focuses on the role of the project manager in planning, organizing and adjusting the transformation of project inputs into product outputs,
- They key to success is flexibility, be flexible and fit the method around your project
Themes provide insight into how the project should be managed. They can be thought of as knowledge areas, or how principles are put in practice. They are set up at the beginning of the project and then monitored throughout. Projects are kept on track by constantly addressing these themes:
- Business case -The objective of a Business Case is to decide if the project is (and remains) desirable, viable and achievable. In short should we continue ?
- Organization -Define and establish the project’s structure of accountability and responsibilities..
- Quality - Are the products fit for purpose ?
- Plan - Identify, assess and control uncertainty.
- Risks - Where, how, who, when, how much?
- Change - Identify, assess and control potential and approved changes to the base-lined objectives.
- progress -Monitor and evaluate actual achievements with the planned achievements
Collectively, these principles provide a framework for good practice:
- Business justification
A project must make good business sense. There needs to be a clear return on investment and the use of time and resources should be justified.
- Learn from experience
Project teams should take lessons from previous projects into account. A lessons log is kept updated for this purpose.
- Roles and Responsibilities
Everyone involved in a project should know what they and others are doing. This includes knowing who the decision makers are.
- Manage by Stages
Difficult tasks are better off broken into manageable chunks, or management stages
- Manage by exception
A project running well doesn’t need a lot of intervention from managers. The project board is only informed if there is or might be a problem.
- Focus on products
Everyone should know ahead of time what’s expected of the product. Product requirements determine work activity, not the other way around.
- Tailor to suit the environment
PRINCE2 can be scaled and tailored. Projects that adapt PRINCE2 to their needs are more likely to succeed than projects that use PRINCE2 dogmatically
The PRINCE2 method also separates the running of a project into 7 processes. Each one is overseen by the project manager and approved by the project board. Here is a breakdown of each stage:
- Starting Up a Project (SU)
- Create a project mandate, which answers logistical questions about the project. It explains the purpose of the project, who will carry it out and how to execute it.
- A project brief is derived from the mandate, lessons log and discussions with people involved in the project.
- A team is assigned and with the brief, they should have all the information needed for next process.
- Initiating a Project (IP)This stage is about realizing what needs to be done to complete the project. The project manager outlines how the following performance targets will be managed:
- Directing a Project (DP)This is an ongoing process from the beginning to the end of a project. The project board manages these activities:
- Stage boundaries
- Ad hoc direction/guidance
- Project closure
- Controlling a Stage (CS)Project managers authorise work packages, which break the project down into manageable activities. These are assigned to teams and their managers. The project manager then has these tasks:
- Overseeing and reporting on work package progress
- Stepping in to correct problems
The team manager, meanwhile has these tasks:
- Coordinating daily work
- Communicating between team members and the project manager
- Managing Product Delivery (MP)This is how the communication between the team manager and project manager is controlled. MP consists of these activities:
- Accepting a work package
- Executing a work package
- Delivering a work package
- Managing Stage Boundaries (SB)Project managers and the board review every stage. The board decides whether to continue the project. The project manager meets with the team to record lessons learned for the next stage. SB consists of these activities:
- Plan the next stage
- Update the project plan
- Update the business case
- Report the stage end or produce an exception plan
- Closing a Project (CP)
- Decommission the project
- Identify follow-on actions
- Prepare benefits and project evaluation reviews
- Free up leftover resources
- Hand over products to the customer
Agile is an iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end.
It works by breaking projects down into little bits of user functionality called user stories, prioritizing them, and then continuously delivering them in short two week cycles called iterations aka sprints.
The Agile method tries to provide rapid, continuous delivery of product to the customer. Whereas traditional methodologies such as the Waterfall method or other linear processes require detailed requirements that are defined in the beginning where the end product is like what defined in the beginning. With Agile there is no clearly defined end product at the onset. In Agile there is still a disciplined prioritization process, but the non-static requirements, flexibility, constant change, and regular communication approach this as part of the culture and process.
This is most commonly used in software development but the approach can also be powerful in some other types of projects as well. Some users say that practitioners must have lightweight project management processes in place in order to deliver in the short timeframes that Agile demands.