Project Overview

In the current business scenario where end users and Customers are very demanding, implementing a project with reduced budget and stricter deadlines has become a challenging task. Combined with the organization’s vision of achieving total customer satisfaction and link project success or failure with the business process outcomes puts tremendous pressure and responsibility on the shoulders of project manager. Apart from achieving the desired outcomes within time and cost constraints project managers are required to overcome constraints like project complexity, scope creep, organizational restructuring, technology change and contribute to the organization process improvements through learning and best practices. It is imperative that the project managers understand project management concepts and are equipped with best tools and templates. So what is a project? As Harold Kerzner in his book “Project Management- A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling” explains:
“A project can be considered to be a series of activities and tasks that:
• Have a specific objective to be completed within certain specifications
• Have a defined start and end dates
• Have funding limits (if applicable)
• Consume resources (i.e., money, people and equipment)”.
According to the PMBOK guide “A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result”.
Looking at both these definitions a project has to have very specific scope. However, requirements within the scope are elaborated over the time period having specific start and end date of the project. Changes to requirements and additional requirements which change the scope, timelines or funding limits of the project are called scope creep and should be handled through proper Requirement Change Management which we will discuss later in the book.
A product is manifestation of various projects taken up over a period of time and conceptualized and implemented through small projects. A product evolves over a period of time and should respond to market needs and changes to business scenarios and should be able to incorporate and respond to political, economic, social and technological factors at macro level, however, a project scope is limited and are influenced by the organization internal factors and the project manager is responsible to implement processes to contain scope creep. However, requirement change management is integral to both product and project scenarios.
Operations, on the other hand, are ongoing and repetitive in nature. Maintenance of any existing product is an operation which may be planned, executed and controlled and are constrained by limited resources and consume resources. Many organizations use terms like “Maintenance Projects”, however they do not fall into the category of true projects in the sense that they do not create a unique product, service or result. Some of the tools, techniques utilized to manage operations may be same as those of the projects.
 Organizations take up various projects in response to changed needs and strategic directions taken at the organization level to respond to the market demand, technology change, change in the internal organization and process to achieve greater efficiency and service levels. Organizations adopt various programs which is group of related projects and uses same concepts as project management applied in a coordinated manner to achieve strategic objectives defined at the enterprise level. Strategic direction taken at the organization level is influenced by the external macro environment (includes political, economic, social and technological factors) and the internal micro environment (which includes factors like positioning, firm’s resources and capabilities). Considering that the Strategic goals defined at the organization level are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or realistic and time bound, it is important that the project goals and measures are aligned to strategic goals.
Project management as a discipline involves various skills and techniques applied to the project using project management tools.

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