Understanding the Principles of project management
Aims and objectives of project management
Project management is widely referred to as the application of the knowledge, tools, skills as well as the available techniques to activities related to projects in order to achieve the objectives of the project. The concept of project management is primary hinged on the need to coordinate, plan as well as control the diverse and highly complex activities that are entailed within the projects found in the contemporary arena with many of the projects being commercial and industrial projects. Apparently almost all projects do rely on projection of ideas and related activities to become new endeavors. Hence, the real purpose of project management is primarily to predict or foresee as numerous challenges and dangers ahead as possible and on the flip side, to organize, plan and control the relevant activities to attain the highest possible levels of achievement as possible in a given project, despite the foreseen dangers and challenges. The presence of such challenges and problems along the project implementation means that the end result of a project is not humanly possible to foresee with complete accuracy. Indeed, in some advanced and complex projects, there is usually serious doubt whether they will be completed successfully.
Project management therefore has the following main tenets/objectives (U.S. Department of Interior, 2013):
Planning; acting ahead to determine what is to be done and in what sequence these activities are to be conducted.
Organizing; putting in place all the relevant procedures and material support that will see the project into completion.
Staffing; this involves finding the people who will be entrusted with the project at different stages of the project, from the beginning to the end. This means there is need to find people with the right skills that are required to complete the job.
Directing; this involves an authority figure, in terms of position or expertise giving instructions ion what should be done and the timelines.
Monitoring; this involves checking of the progress that the project has made and as a project manager, this process is a continuous process and not just an instance activity. The manager needs to continually monitor the progress and correcting the areas that need correction.
Controlling; without giving direction to a project, there is bound to be shortcomings that can grind a project to a halt. This means therefore that as a project manager, one needs to take well calculated and timely steps in remedying the hold ups that may come up time after time.
Innovation; as a manger of a project, there will be need to come up with new solutions each time a peculiar or new challenge is experienced.
Representing; this involves the manager getting in touch with the parties to the project and in particular the users of the project. This is aimed at ensuring there is relevance maintained in the course of the project so that it is not completed and yet unusable or not beneficial to the intended users.
1.2 Project Management procurement processes
In any project, there are bound to be some procurement that will be made in order to have it running. It could be that the procurement involves buying from outside, or getting another firm contracted or even hiring tools and machinery for use. Before the decision to involve in external sourcing of goods and services for the project, there is need to ensure the internal mechanisms are all exhausted since it is usually cheaper and les tedious to have the internally sourced items over procuring from outside in case of a project. Nevertheless, procuring goods from external sources remains a critical direction for most projects. It is always critical to ensure the project gets the best supplier possible since the quality of the services and goods from the contracted supplier will reflect on the performance of the project as well. The project manager hence needs to be extra vigilant to ensure that the supplier delivers what meets the expectations of the project. This can be achieved through the procurement management process as outlined below in four major stages (Grisot H., 2011);
1. Plan procurements -- which entails the actual creation of the project procurement management plan and here the major decisions on the needed items are made by the project team in charge or directly concerned. It is at this stage that the procurement documents are prepared and criteria developed that will guide the selection of the suppliers who will be awarded the tenders. In order to have this process well underway, there will be baseline analysis for the project, the relevant documents will be referred to, the schedule of the project will also come in handy among other factors that will guide this first step.
2. Conduct procurement - here, the actual selection of the vendors and awarding of procurement contracts is undertaken, apart from that, there is need to then have the schedule of the use of the materials that will be supplied in order to reduce wastage and damage at site. These schedules can be adjusted accordingly in line with the availability of the materials. There are several tools employed at this stage for instance there could be meetings arranged between the management and the potential suppliers to brief them on the expectations of the project, there could be keen scrutiny of the proposals forwarded, there could as well be advertisements asking for bids from vendors, the internet of late plays a central role at this stage of procurement as well.
3. Administer procurement -- this is where a relationship is formed between the project and the suppliers or vendors. There are various procurement documents that will be made here and it is at this point that fundamental changes usually happen to projects. It is also at this stage that the system of contract change control is utilized to determine if there are any changes needed in the course of the project, whether they are needed and necessary and how these can be made. Here also are the reviews of the project especially of the procurement performance, there could be audits conducted, performance reports made and a process to pay the contractors also established as necessary.
4. Close procurement -- this is the final significant step in the procurement within a project. Here are the necessary steps in closing a procurement contract with its successful completion or otherwise or even prematurely closing it if there is need for it. There is need to have audits at this stage to take stock of what happened during the procurement process and in some instances there are bound to be negotiations between the project management and the contractors in case of contract disputes. Here, it is necessary to have a record management system to document the contract as a whole.
1.3 Accountability and responsibility within project management
Accountability is the central tenet of any project and without it there is no need to get involved in a project as the manager or part of the team if one cannot be accountable since in such a condition, the project is domed fro failure. It is a difficult thing to achieve as well since there are usually calibers of authority hence direct responsibility can be hard to ascertain. This then calls for implementation of the below three measures within the project to ensure accountability (Project Times, 2013);
a. Set expectations -- as a project manager you need to instill responsibility and accountability by determining the priorities and the expectations which must be communicated clearly to the staff members. When this is done, the project will not only be successful but other periphery challenges will also be solved. The manager of the project needs to have possible considerations of eventualities that may be in the course of the project and have stop measures as standbys and inform the staff about it accordingly as well.
b. Track progress- this needs to be done within every milestone step made and not to wait till the end of the time frame of the project. This can be done by the manager or in an integral manner by the manger asking the opinions of the other members of the team in the project. In a project, there are normally path milestones which are instrumental in tracking progress and if these are too far spaced, then accomplished tasks are to be used for the progress tracking. At this step, the quality must be of interest and the results, the costs of achieving the result and feedback must also be conveyed, this way there will be responsibility instilled in the team handling the project.
c. Integrate with performance management processes -- apparently what gets measured gets done, hence there is need to ensure there is a comprehensive way of integration of performance management process to instill responsibility and accountability. The management should therefore have a performance metrics and communicate the outcome frequently to the people concerned in the project. He should also…