Project management


A project is an organized endeavor to accomplish a specified non-routine or low volume task. Although projects are not repetitive, they take significant amount of time to complete and are large-scale or complex enough to be recognized and managed as separate undertakings. Management of a project differs in several ways from management of a typical business.

The type of techniques required to manage the projects depends on the complexity of the projects. For small projects, Gantt charts are adequate whereas for large and complex projects, the critical path method (CPM) or the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) would be more effective.

Project Life Cycle

A project passes through a life cycle that may vary with the size and complexity of the project. Typically a project will pass through the following phases:

1. The Concept Phase:
During this phase, the organization realizes that a project may be needed or the organization is requested to propose a plan to perform a project for some customer.

2. Initial Planning or Feasibility Phase:
During this phase, the project manager plans the project to a level of detail, sufficient for initial scheduling and budgeting.

3. Detailed Planning Phase:
If the project is approved , then detailed scheduling and budgeting is done in this phase.

4. Organization Phase:
During this phase, a detailed project definition such as the work breakdown structure (WBS) is examined. A WBS is a document similar to the bill of material and divides the total work into major packages to be accomplished.

Personal and other resources necessary to accomplish the project the project are then made available for all or a portion of the project’s duration through temporary assignments from other parts of the organization or by leasing resources or subcontracting portions of the project.

5. Execution Phase:
During this phase the various activities planned are completed as per the schedule, utilizing the allotted resources.

6. Termination Phase:
This is the phase, during which project is terminated or disbanded after completion. The personnel who were working in the project are assigned back to the irregular jobs or to other jobs in the organization or to other projects in this phase.

Project Organization

Project organizations have been developed to ensure both continuity of the production system in its day to day activities and the successful completion of projects. A variety of organizational structures are used by enterprises to perform project work. The various considerations in forming a project organization are:

(a) Proportion of the company’s work that is performed by projects.
(b) The scope and duration of the project.
(c) The capabilities of the available personnel.
(d) The preferences of the decision makers.

There are four options available in choosing an appropriate organization for projects.

(a) Functional Organization:
In functional organizations, functional departments are formed that specialize in a particular type of work such as production and sales. These functional departments often are broken into smaller units that focus on special areas within the function. Top management may divide project into work tasks and assign them to the appropriate functional units. The project is then budgeted and managed through the normal management hierarchy.

(b) Project Coordinator:
A project may be handled through the organization as described above, except some one is appointed to coordinate the project. The project is still funded through the normal organization and the functional managers retain responsibility and authority to their portion of the project work. The project coordinator meets with the functional managers and provides focus and impetus for the project and may report its status to the top management.

(c) Project matrix:
In a matrix organization, a project manager is responsible for completion of the project and often assigned a budget. The project manager contracts with the functional managers for completion of specified parts of the project. The functional managers assign work to employees and coordinate work within their areas. The project manager co-ordinates project efforts across the functional units.

d) Project Team:
A particularly significant project that will have a long duration and require the full time efforts of a group may be run by a project team, specially constituted for that purpose. Personnel are assigned full-time to the project and are physically located with other team members. The project has its own management structure and budget as though it were a separate division of the company.

Professionals in the industrial or business field would be very well aware that a Project is different from a regular production. Organizing and implementing for a new production set up or expansion or for new product in short is termed as ‘Project’ which may require expertise and a time frame ranging from a few months to few years even. The professional in charge of the entire activity at the employee level is designated suitably as ‘Project Manager’ or General Manager Projects or even Executive Director Projects.. Once the project is executed and commissioned the production starts and the Project Manager is made either to look after the production unit set up or shifted to another project.