Project Management Basics

Project management is a crucial skill in any project’s success. As a developer, I have not always understood this. Then I worked in an organization where I was responsible for the management of the project. Some organizations make the developers do this, some have the Business Analyst do this, it just depends on.

Project management is a skill set all to itself. The best course of action is to have people who specialize in project management. As you can imagine if you have multiple roles you will do a poor job at both of them. When I was a project manager and a developer on the project both of these duties suffered. You can do your best work when you focus on one thing.

The first project manager I worked with was named Cisco. I didn’t realize all he had to do to make a project a success. I thought he just worked in Microsoft Project. He would ask us all the time what percentage we were complete of our tasks. It became kind of a running joke with other developers.

Boy did I learn all the pieces later on and have a better appreciation for him and all project managers. As we will discuss in this part, we will cover the basics parts of project management and how it is different than operations as well.

Temporary and Unique

“Projects set out to produce a unique product or service that hasn’t been produced before. They have a limited time from and are temporary in nature.” This from author and Project Manager Kim Heldman in her book Project Management Jumpstart.  The uniqueness causes us to have to wrestle with many parts that may be unknown or not well defined. The project should have a distinct beginning and end date. The project should continue until they meet the desired goal or the project is no longer viable.

Goal

We have a definite goal in our project. This is usually the first step in any project is to define this goal. Once we have that laid out we should be able to gather the other vital parts of information. The goal or vision should define what the outcome and deliverables of the project are.

Beginning and End

Projects have beginnings and endings. Although when you begin them you might be unsure of when the end date is this a temporary assignment. End dates can be elusive as well as planning involves many risks that we encounter. Many activities will be dependent on others so we need to identify the critical path and what are the constraints we have.

Budget (optional)

Every project does have a budget although not every project manager has to deal with it. “What do you mean?” Well in certain situations the company will have full-time employees that are allocated to a department that is already figured into the cost of the project. In this case, the project manager doesn’t calculate the cost for this situation.

Other times there is a budget and the project manager will have to keep close tabs on it. This can be difficult if you have multiple sponsors of the project. Each one can be responsible for a part of the project or a percentage of the project. These costs need to be clearly identified and understood by all parties who is responsible for the costs.

Project vs Operations

People sometimes confuse everything for a project. “Everyday work is ongoing. Production processes are an example of ongoing operations.” Also from Project Management Jumpstart. A project is something that is temporary, if this is not the case then it would be part of operations. Operations go on with no foreseeable end date. Managing operations are quite different than managing a project. The time and budget constraints are obviously dissimilar.

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