Project management ou Project management is a set of best practices for project planning and execution, mainly considering scope, schedule, costs and quality. A project is a chain of activities planned to achieve a specific result.
See in this article:
- What is project management?
- Why is project management important?
- Understand the PMBOK
- Areas for working with project management
- Project Management Tools
- Practical Example Using a Project Management Worksheet
Let's say you want to achieve a result or do a great deed. For example, holding a big event. On the face of it, you have a hard time figuring out how many activities, financial and human resources will be required to hold the event on time.
For it to happen and be a success, you will need plan a project.
A project has some unique characteristics (others not) that serve to define it. The main one is its temporary character. It will always have beginning and end. That way, thinking about my daily activities, I can not consider "brushing my teeth every day" as a project. However, if I want to do a work in the kitchen, I can consider it a project.
Another characteristic of a project is its scope. People usually think of projects as joining activities, but these are the lowest hierarchy of the scope. A project always has a great goal. Below it are the deliverables, from English deliverables. It is the deliveries that will be made to reach the great goal. Each delivery is composed of activities.
It sounds complex, but as you progress in reading, I promise you it will get simpler and simpler. (I.e.
This is the kind of question I particularly like to answer with new questions. Let's think together about building a bridge. Which of the two situations below do you think is more likely to work?
- We'll join a gang on one side of the river and another on the other side. Someone shoots up and both sides start building until the bridge is ready.
- We hired an experienced project manager. It will think of all the resources needed to build the bridge: people needed to perform the different tasks, costs, materials and technical and environmental licenses required. He also thinks about project risks and possible solutions. After careful planning, the bridge is built.
If the scenario illustrated in the situation "1" get the picture above, I believe we can say that it has gone even further than expected. (I.e.
I think this kind of problem illustrates the importance of project management.
Complex problems require well-planned and well-executed solutions
Companies earn a lot by training their employees in knowledge of project management. Not necessarily they will begin to make a formal planning for every small accomplishment, because this would also bureaucracy the company. But they will have the essence of project management rooted in their actions.
This new mindset it means thinking about the hierarchization of activities, the allocation of people according to competencies, cost and risk management, and especially in reporting. A team that knows how to manage projects becomes expert in solving problems in a personalized way and substantially reduces the level of concern of its managers.
Institutions of management of projects
The main institution linked to project management in the world is the SMEs (Project Management Institute). They are responsible for PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), which would be basically the set of techniques on project management according to PMI.
PMI has offices in several countries around the world and offers several certifications related to project management. For those who want to take the career a step above in this modality, it is interesting to know more about these types of certification.
There are other institutions directly or indirectly linked to project management that offer certifications in methods related to the theme:
- The Scrum Alliance
- ILX Group
- Global Association for Quality Management
- AAPM - American Academy of Project Management
As we said earlier, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is the manuscript that brings together best practices within the areas of knowledge in project management.
If you are interested in being a Project Manager, or at least understand their practices, the PMBOK is the best way to get started. Below we'll explain the 9 managements covered by the book.
The Scope of a Project
The scope of the project would be the deliverable structure of the same. In other words, what would be the deliverables that should be made for the project to reach its ultimate goal?
The above image is a representation of the EAP (Project Analytical Framework). We will explain it through a project of elaboration of business plan.
The "Phases", in this case, would be the intermediate deliveries of the project, for example: market analysis report, strategic planning report, marketing plan report and economic feasibility study report.
The "Subphases" would be the macro-activities necessary for the elaboration of the deliverables. Within the market analysis report, for example, the project manager could think of the Competition Study, SWOT Analysis, and Benchmark research.
Finally, the "Work Packages" would be the activities required to form the Subphases and so on.
Quite simply, but delivering the broken project thus, and validating each delivery, the alignment between client and project manager will be greater. Ensuring a better end result.
The Timeline of a Project
O schedule is nothing more than the detailed term of the project. It should contain the entire structure of the project - deliverables, activities and their - and a start date and an end date must be assigned for each activity.
The project manager should also pay attention to what activities can be initiated concurrently, without overloading the team. And what are the activities that follow a certain hierarchy, or rather have to wait for other activities to end. This usually occurs because of team overload or because these activities depend on data collected from their predecessors.
The correct way to set up a timeline is to go from the micro to the macro. Begin by stipulating the hierarchy and term of each activity. Then see the complete project deadline, each deliverable, with start date and end date.
O schedule of a project generally represented by a gantt chart:
Cost Management in Project Management
Each step will have costs involved and this planning should be done before the start of the project. Regardless of being a internal project (inside the company) or external (for a client), it will interfere in the decision to execute it or not. In the case of external parties, project price will change from its cost structure.
Some examples of costs that affect projects:
- Displacements - travel, feeds
- Acquisitions and leases - software, machines, vehicles
- Contracting - outsourced, specific labor
- Inputs - materials, suppliers
- Services - translations, other consulting and advisory services
Quality Management in Project Management
A project will only succeed if it meets the requirements specified by the team and the client. It's no use coming to an end if the customer is not satisfied or if he has made a loss, just citing two examples.
Quality management of a project consists of creating these specifications and measuring them to see if the project is successful or not.
Some examples of simple requirements that can be used as quality criteria for a project:
- Deadline accomplishments
- Compliance with costs
- Consumption of resources
- Customer Satisfaction - measured through research
- Quantity and Satisfaction of the public or users - if we think of an event or a launch
- Pollution generated
- Benefits achieved for the region
- Investments raised
See also: All about Quality Management
Stakeholders are the people involved in the project. Not only the people allocated in the team, but all people affected in a way affected by the project: customers, suppliers, sponsors and all people who suffer positive or negative influence of the progress and completion of the project.
For example, returning to the "project" of doing a work in my kitchen. Not necessarily my family will participate in the project, but if the house is uninhabitable for a while, I will have to make decisions about them. Therefore, they are important stakeholders. I can host them in another location, or try to make adjustments to the scope and timeline so the house is uninhabitable less time.
The first step to making good stakeholder management is to allocate the project team. I advise this to be done based on skills (techniques or skills) and availability. After allocating the internal team, the manager must map all external stakeholders. From the mapping, it will be decided whether or not management actions are necessary.
Remembering that the allocation of people in the activities is fundamental to the success of the project, as they influence not only on quality, but also on the schedule. There are people who do activities faster than others. In addition, allocating more people to a project will allow tasks that are not hierarchically related to be done concomitantly. However, more people would cost more.
In the end, it's all about aligning with customers to understand what they value most: price, time, or quality.
Project Communication Management
Communication management within a project is closely linked to stakeholder management. It is a matter of planning in advance the accesses and formats of the communication and the reportology of the project. For example, how will the project team communicate? Via email or a differentiated platform? Is it necessary to keep track of these communications?
Another issue is to hierarchize the communications, defining who will have access to each channel and each level of information. The client, for example, should be aware of everything that happens inside the project, except internal team issues. And, in order to be aligned, the periodicity and format of the reports must be defined in advance.
Other stakeholders will not need to know everything that will happen in the project, but it is important to define how and how much information relevant to them will be passed.
Risk Management in Projects
Every project is inherently exposed to a number of risks. Or rather, we as human beings are exposed to a host of risks every day. There are risks that are impossible to predict, but there are also some anticipated risks.
When I have an important meeting early, I schedule to leave before the scheduled time, as I know there may have been some traffic accident on the way. This is the type of risk management that needs to be done within a project.
The first step is to create a matrix of risks, crossing gravity and probability. From the matrix, the project manager must define what risks will be appreciated and their possible solutions. Some possibilities:
- Delay of a supplier -> leaving more suppliers triggered
- Dismissal of a team member -> create a system of tasks in pairs
- Delay in a government license -> anticipation of other stages of the project
- Client budget reduction -> programmed scope reduction
Project Procurement Management
The concept of procurement management is confused with the concept of cost management. However, the latter is only about financial expenditures, while the former is about the process in which acquisitions will take place.
There are resources that will be done without bureaucratic problems. But there are resources that are embedded in a concept of complex sales and therefore will require multiple approvals and different rounds of negotiation. In order for resources to be available at the right time, it is important that this process be started well in advance.
Procurement management also encompasses authorizations and procedures related to the contracting of the team and subcontractors, in addition to contract management and its validity. The project can be used for software whose license will expire during it. The acquisition of renewal or other software must be planned together with the project.
- Monitoring and control
In the integration management, the project manager acts as the main agent. The procedures that must be followed are:
- Develop opening terms - authorizes the start of the project or internal phases
- Develop project management plan - necessary actions to prepare and integrate ancillary plans
- Guide and manage project work - perform work defined in the project plan to achieve the project objectives.
- Manage Project Knowledge - continuous improvement based on lessons learned / knowledge management.
- Monitor and control project work - monitor, and review progress to meet the performance objectives defined in the project plan.
- Perform integrated change control - review change, approval, and change management requests.
- End the project or phase - finalize all project management activities to complete the project or phase.
Knowledge in project management can help any professional. There are many situations in which we fail in everyday life that could be overcome if they were treated as projects, with planning and control.
However, in some areas, it is simply impossible to survive or evolve without knowing manage projects. These areas usually work on demand and not with well defined activities and routines. If working on procedures with beginning, middle and end, is the core of these professionals, project management is closely linked to them.
Let's look at some of these areas below.
IT - Information Technology
The area of technology is so closely linked to project management that there are own methods adapted to this reality. Even IT professionals have a maintenance and patch routine, but much of their work runs through projects.
Development and implementation of softwares, extensions of the infrastructure and extensive modifications in platforms are part of the daily life of this area. Due to the dynamism of the IT area, agile IT project management methodologies were created and adapted, such as SCRUM and XP.
These methods contradict the traditional project management, in which there is the cascading of activities for a great final delivery. A software development project can not afford to do that. On the release date it will be obsolete.
Agile methods advocate that projects be broken into small deliveries so that they are released and evolve with public perception.
Engineering is an area that usually deals with great achievements and constructions. There is no possibility of executing them without any planning. Another critical factor is the fact that different areas of engineering constantly deal with very high responsibilities, which can even endanger the lives of many people.
It is through engineering that means of transport, buildings and plants of the most varied types are constructed. In addition to encompassing grandiose projects, such as launching a rocket. THE engineering project management ends up having some peculiarities:
- Need for good physical-financial planning
- More attention to acquisitions
- Increased number of stakeholders involved
- Exposure to large exposures
Consulting firms provide temporary services to other companies to solve problems, operationalize changes and implement tools. Consulting projects can act on specific areas of a company or can be more general.
Some examples of consulting projects:
- Complete Business Consulting Project
- Sales Funnel Consulting Project
- Human Resources Consulting Project
- Financial advisory project
- Strategic Consulting Project
One of the biggest challenges in consulting project management it's in definition of project prices. It is very difficult to reconcile the work to be done with the client's expectations.
Like any robust procedure, project management can be greatly benefited by the use of technology and tools.
Project management tools can range from spreadsheets for various themes to the most complete and complex software. Here are some examples below:
Project Management Worksheet - serves to plan and control critical project factors: scope, costs, and timeline.
Project Pricing Worksheet - is used to calculate the final price of the projects to be charged to the client from the cost, schedule and the desired profit margin.
Trello - is a cloud application focused on agile project activity management.
Microsoft Project - microsoft software, quite complete for project management, which can be used in the cloud or not.
Asana - is a project management tool more focused on increasing productivity of teams. These can create workspaces and exchange information.
Project Builder - Brazilian tool, in the cloud, for project management.
WBS Chart - application to create the analytical structure of projects.
Now that you know a good deal of the theory about project management, I will show you how to accomplish all the steps of project management using a Project Management Worksheet. Check below!
1) Define the scope of the project
The first step is to define the essential items for the project. Who is your client, what steps will this project have, important contacts and who will participate in the project. See how it works in Project Management Worksheet in Excel from LUZ. First we have an area for project details:
Then the data related to the term of the project as a whole and accounting for weekdays and weekends:
And finally, the volume of deliverables (project stages):
This data will feed the rest of the spreadsheet and make your job easier.
2) Create your project schedule
From the scope, you can start by creating a very simple schedule. Simply create lines with the name of the steps and then columns with start and end dates for the step in question. In this way the main data of the project will be visible, as well as the delivery dates. It is also possible to work with filters, to facilitate your work.
The start and end dates of each stage should take into account the available work hours of the team and their deadline projections for each one. If an analyst has the week off and needs 40 hours to prepare an industry analysis, it is reasonable to assume that the activity will take about 5 days. You can add one or two more days to avoid possible problems.
The ideal for project management in Excel is that you automatically have the project days, what you did and the delay or progress of the steps, as shown below:
3) Plan and track costs per step
As you saw in the picture above, beyond the deadline, each step should be controlled in relation to its costs and scope of achievement. This you can do with auxiliary tabs in your Excel project management worksheet:
By filling in the cost, adding the date, responsible and the linked stage, you will be able to make a close control of the expenses with the project and also understand by means of graphs if the budget of expenses is in accordance with the costs realized:
4) Build a team and empower people to the project
A Allocation of people is a crucial part of the planning a project. Depending on the complexity of it, you will need different people with different specialties and abilities. It is important that you make a mapping skills in your business to find out if you have the required resources internally or need to search.
Another preponderant factor is the time each takes to do each activity. This may affect the project schedule and should be considered. Try to allocate people in the steps according to their specialties.
5) Monitor the overall progress of the project
If you have done all the project control steps, you will be able to have a graphical view of what is happening, here is an example of this analysis:
After each deliverable, check with your customer if everything is as expected and validate each delivery in writing. This will save rework and probable headaches in the future if the customer changes his mind.
If he does change his mind, you will have to make clear that it will be necessary to renegotiate a change of scope and this will affect the time frame and cost of the project. If he does not agree and the relationship deteriorates, it is more desirable to cancel the project than to persuade a client to continue with something worthless to him.
See also: Checklists for Project Management
6) Share the progress of the project and cover employees
We have just seen the basic process of control and project management in Excel, where you:
1 - establishes the scope and general lines of the project
2 - defines deadlines and responsible
3 - controls costs (and if desired, hours worked by the consultants / involved in the project)
4 - Analyzes deliverables, project progress and customer satisfaction
Now you can share the progress of the project through a print area:
If your company does more sporadic projects, project follow-up can be done remotely, even by email. But if your company is focused on project management - a consulting firm, for example - it is strongly recommended that weekly follow-up meetings be held.
At these meetings, the company must choose or have a PMP (Project Management Professional - Project Manager). That is, someone who takes responsibility for the progress of all projects and monitors them with other managers, thus moderating the meeting.
The agenda of the follow-up meeting is to update the entire company on the progress of each project in terms of tracking the scope, schedule, costs and customer satisfaction. When faced with problems, the company can help the specific manager to create contingency plans.
See also: Main project management processes