Project Management is defined as the discipline that involves “initiating, planning, executing and controlling the work of a team of people towards the achievement of a specific goal, or sets of goals”. These goals could be the development or production of unique products, services, or some other metric improvements, all of which are expected to deliver additional value. Through project management, activities are conducted using various tools, skill sets, knowledge, methodologies and techniques in order to meet the requirements of the projects.
The main goal of project management is to ensure that the objectives of the project are achieved within specified constraints.
Projects are, by nature, temporary. They have a defined starting and ending point. They will begin at a specific point in time, and will wrap up once the objective or goal has been achieved.
The definition above already marks the difference between Project Management and Program management. It is non-routine and temporary, while Program Management can be long-running. There are defined scopes and resources while, in program management, these aspects could be flexible. There is only one project to speak of in Project Management, but Program Management refers to overseeing several projects all at once.
Project management is also considered separate from the normal, repetitive operations of a business. For example, in a manufacturing company, the actual business process of putting resources into production is not a project, since these are permanent (or even semi-permanent) activities of the business. Now, if management decides to devise a new business process to create another set of products, that is the project.
Projects have four identified elements:
- Scope – This refers to the size of the project, the goals expected to be achieved upon its completion, and the different project requirements.
- Resources – These includes the people or manpower, the materials, tools and equipment that are used in the execution of the project.
- Time – This encompasses the durations of the tasks, the critical path, schedules, and dependencies.
- Money – Projects involve costs and expenses, contingencies, revenue, and profit.
Among the four elements, the scope is deemed to be the most important, since it pretty much covers the other three elements as well. Project Managers must first manage the scope of the project.
All four must be managed, however, since they are interrelated. Ignoring one will adversely affect the others, and vice versa. Successful project management means managing all four elements effectively.
One question often asked is if there are specific types of project management. Project management takes different forms or types when applied to specific industries. For example, a project in the construction industry will be different from that of a project in the IT industry. It goes without saying that management for each project will also differ, since we are talking about two different specializations or fields here. Still, they are likely to follow the same template of project management by following specific project management processes.