February J. 2014
A project is a temporary group of activity designed to produce unique products and services or results. Typically, a project has a defined beginning and end and therefore having defined scope and resources. (Pierre, 2012). A project also has a specific set of operations to accomplish a singular goal. Examples of projects are as follows:
Development of software to improve business process,
Construction of bridge or building,
Expansion of sales to specific geographical areas.
Major goal of executing projects is to achieve a strategic plan. However, many projects have been met with failures because of lack of integration of effective project management model in the project lifecycle.
Project management model is critical for the success of a project. Project management is the application of skills, tools, knowledge and techniques to project activities to meet stakeholders' requirements and expectations. Typically, understanding a project management tool is very critical to the successful completion of a project.
Objective of this document is to provide a review of project management principles to achieve organizational objectives. The paper provides examples of case studies of successful projects and the strategies the project stakeholders use in integrating project management model in the project lifecycle. However, an organization needs to integrate project life-cycle management in a project because of its immense benefits to project outcomes.
"Project Life-cycle Management and the Benefits of Project Management Organizations"
Project life-cycle is defined as phases that connect a project from the beginning to the end and project management process is integrated in all the project lifecycle for the best project outcome. A project manager can divide a project into 7 phases and each phase in a typical project includes:
Project Initiation: Defining and authorizing a project's objectives, purpose, scope, and deliverables.
Requirements: Defining detailed requirements for a project solution.
Functional and Technical Design: Defining system design based on the project requirements.
Development: Performing integration testing and development of the system.
UAT (User Acceptance Testing): Preparing for the implementation of the developed system through UAT.
Deployment: Deploying the developed system for production.
Closing: Close the project.
Highly detailed project life-cycle may include project's description, form, chart and checklist. However, most projects have commonly shared project life-cycle that includes:
Low costs and staffing at the beginning of a project, high costs and staffing in the middle and drop towards the end of a project,
At the beginning of a project, probability of completing of project is very low, hence and uncertainties are very high at the start of a project, however, risks and uncertainties drop towards the end of a project.
Project management is very important in the project life cycle. Many small, medium and large sized projects are often delayed and sometimes resulting to financial losses because project stakeholders fail to integrate project management model in a project lifecycle. Cleland, & Ireland (2008) point out that 23% of IT projects are often canceled before completion and 49% are adversely affected by time overrun, which ultimately increase the original project's cost by 60%.
However, NIST (National Institute of Standard and Technology) always achieve success in virtually all its projects because the organization integrates the project management model in the project lifecycle.
Some of the projects successfully completed by NIST are as follows:
"Computer Recognition of Natural Handwriting."
The Natural Handwriting project was launched in 1991 and the project was to be delivered five years after the initiation. In 1996, the organization successfully completed the project because the NIST integrated the project lifecycle management to enhance the project outcomes. To successfully complete the project, NIST integrates project management in the project lifecycle, which encompasses dividing the project in the following phases:
Project proposal, formulation, and planning,
Project initiation & execution,
Project transition and termination.
The NIST further breaks down each phase into additional activities or steps to successfully manage the project lifecycles. The activities are as follows:
"Project Proposal, Formulation, and Planning"
NIST divides this phase in the following activities:
Identification and defining problems to be solved.
Research and reviewing related published results.
Formulating potential solutions and approaches to the problems.
Evaluating risks, alternatives, and contingency plans.
Selecting a preferred solution or approach.
Developing a technical project plan that includes why, what, cost, and impact.
Developing a schedule such as milestones, and deliverables.
Identification and estimation of resources needed for the project.
Cost estimation and potential project's benefits.
Submitting a proposal,
Obtaining project approval for funding.
Project Initiation & Execution
NIST also divides this phase in the following activities:
Selecting and organizing the project team,
Launching kickoff and orientations,
Developing detailed schedules and plans,
Developing a work breakdown structure,
Assigning project tasks and units
Obtain needed materials, equipment, facilities, suppliers and supports.
Execute work tasks and units.
One of the benefits of project management is that it reduces the chances of a project's failure. By breaking down a project in different phases and each phase is completed before moving down to the next phase, a project manager is able to identify problem in each phase and rectify the problem before moving to another phase. This strategy greatly reduces the chance of a project's failure.
Moreover, project management model assists a project manager to effectively manage risks associated to a project. Knowledge of risk management is very critical to the successful implementation of a project. Market forces, globalization, and competitions have forced organizations to increase the quality and scope of their projects. To deliver a safer, better, cheaper and quality project, organizations are required to integrate risk management plan in the project lifecycle. Thus, a project management model assists project stakeholders to effectively manage project risks to achieve better outcome from a project.
For example, the Alaska North oil Slope launched a new project in 2006 to locate a new oil reserve due to decline in the production of the existing oil reserve. The project estimation was $20 billion, and to achieve a success in the project, the project stakeholder integrates the risk management model in the project lifecycle. Using this strategy, the government has been able to achieve a better outcome from the project.
Moreover, a project management model assists organizations to keep project timeframes, cost and resources to budget, which assist in achieving the best results from a project. Project management also assists in enhancing effective communication among project stakeholders, which assists in reducing complexities in a project. For example, the Alaska project used digital communication system to link all managers together to enhance effective coordination of all managers. In the Alaska project, some managers are scattered, some working in remote areas. With satellite and digital communication systems linking project manager together, the project stakeholders have been able to deliver higher productivity and achieve a quality improvement from the project.
"Project Organizations and the Importance of Leadership and Sponsorship"
A project organization is an organization which its operations consists primarily of completing projects. For example, engineering firms, architectural firms, construction consultants, and consultants are the examples of project organizations that derive their revenues from implementing projects. Thus, organizations whose their major activities are to implement projects should adopt management by project in order to facilitate projects' success. However, non-project-based organizations may lack effective management systems to management a project to facilitate a project outcome. Although, some non-project organizations may create departments that operates as project-based units.
To achieve a successful outcome from a project, organizations wishing to implement complex projects must design a projectized organization different from functional organization. The organizational structure that must employ for a project implementation is discussed below:
In a project organization, a chief executive should be at the apex of the organization, and followed by three project managers. One of the project managers should a project coordinator. Below the project managers are the staff who will be a subordinate to the project manager.
The NIST project organization embraces the following:
The head of the project is the NIST director having overall responsibility for NIST's programs
A laboratory director is responsible for the performances and operation of each laboratory focused on specific laboratory and technical disciplines.
Divisional chief for each laboratory has responsibility for major functional laboratory program.
Project leader is responsible in managing and conducting project research assisted by technical team members.
Leadership plays a significant role in a success of a project. A good leadership enhances successful teambuilding, motivation and conflict resolution. (Claude, 2012). In a project managed by governments, leadership may come from department executives, or middle managers. Typically, leadership of a project is an individual who brings values and discipline to a project in order to increase a project success. Leaders provide vision and strategy to run a project and…
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