Remember The Milk: ListFrom formal project management courses to new age disciplines, there are many theories of project management. Some are strict,?Ǭ†some are more fluid, but all have the goal of getting a project done. Tools such as Microsoft Project have made the field and practice of project management all the more visible over the years.

No matter what tools you use, the critical point is finding a project management style that works for you, your employees (if you have any) and your business goals. In this report, we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve outlined the basics and challenges of project management as well as introduced a few tried and true methods for you to explore.

Project management is the practice of managing resources ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú time, materials and people ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú in order to complete a project within a defined scope of quality, time and cost. By definition, a project is a one-time event to create a unique product or service ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú one that adds value. However, it is important to note that since projects are a one-time deal, projects actually contrast with processes or operations that are created to scale repeated events and tasks. As a field of study and practice, project management developed from different disciplines including construction, engineering, and defense. In the United States, the forefather of project management is Henry Gantt, called the father of planning and control techniques, who is famously known for his use of the “bar” chart as a project management tool, for being an associate of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s theories of scientific management and for his study of the work management of Navy ship building. With large corporations like DuPont quickly adopting such methods, in 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed to serve the interest of the project management industry. The premise of PMI is that the tools and techniques of project management are common even among the widespread application of projects from the software industry to the construction industry. In 1981, the PMI Board of Directors authorized the development of what has become the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), containing the standards and guidelines of practice that are widely used throughout the profession. The International Project Management Association (IPMA), founded in Europe in 1967, has undergone a similar development and instituted the IPMA Project Baseline. Both are now creating a global project management standard.[1]

Project Management: A 5-Step Basic Approach

While there are many traditional schools of project management thought, we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve simplified them into a basic process that you can follow, designed to achieve project management success. Essentially, project management can be defined by the challenges it aims to overcome.

The first challenge of project management is to ensure that a project is delivered within defined time, resource and/or material constraints. The second, more ambitious challenge is the optimized allocation and integration of inputs needed to meet pre-defined objectives. A project is a carefully defined set of activities that use resources (money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, quality, risk, etc.) to meet the pre-defined objectives.

Step 1: Define the problem to be solved. Think about and visualize the desired end result. Also, anticipate the project?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s impact and define the exact needs being satisfied by the project. Take the time here to brainstorm some solution options as well.

Step 2: Plan the project. Answer the basics: What must be done and who will do it? How and when must it be done? How much will it cost and what other resources (people) will you need?

Step 3: Execute the plan. Make sure that your plan doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t dissovle into ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdead?¢‚Ǩ¬ù pieces of paper. These can really become the living tools for success.

Step 4: Monitor progress. Assign one person the role of project manager to keep tasks, people and execution on schedule, within resource constraints and on task. This project manager is the hub of the project and should institute regular communications (e-mail, calls) with the team to record progress. Create performance milestones during interim intervals that will check the performance on a sub-task of a larger goal. The project manager should also create a contingency plan for key activities, in case things get off track.

Step 5: Complete your project. Make sure to have a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìpost-mortem?¢‚Ǩ¬ù session with the project team to understand lessons learned, what could have been handled better, challenges and opportunities.

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[1] www.wikipedia.com

photo credit:?Ǭ†JW_00000

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