project management 101

characteristics of a project

  • the deliverable is well-defined
  • it is a finite activity - a start date and end date are identified
  • it is composed of a limited number of structured activities
  • it comprises realistic objectives
  • it consumes resources

project phases

The planning phase consists in defining the parameters of the situation.

Human, financial and technical aspects of the project must be taken into consideration.

Possible solutions must be identified and analyzed. The pros and cons of different options must be debated.

The implementation phase will define the ways and means to get the project going. It is time to answer the basic questions: where? how? and by who? will the project be undertaken.

sample project

If we were to build a new commercial website, we might have to go through the following phases:

  • Analysis and planning - analyze client needs, define project specs, produce an execution plan, write a proposal and sign a contract.

  • Design - flowcharts, user interfaces, functionalities and site map.

  • Production - manage workflow, integrate all project elements and get approvals.

  • Testing and evaluation - test functions of individula elements, test integrated system, evaluate internally, get client approval.

  • Deployment and support - marketing, user training and site maintenance.

responsibilities of project manager

The project manager is the first member of the production team. He must be able to keep an overall view of the project but be detail-oriented at the same time to understand all the low-level elements.

He is responsible for maintaining the project documentation. He is also in charge of communicating to Management the needs of the team, the progress reports and potential problems as well as those encountered.
(Hint: this is where Microsoft Project comes in.)

The project manager's tasks include:

  • manage project scope - respect client needs, don't go off-track with add-on functionalities
  • manage costs - one of the most important tasks - don't incur unnecessary expenses
  • manage the schedule - use resources so that the timetable is adhered to
  • manage human resources - choose right employee for each task, understand needs of each element in project
  • manage communications - keep lines open with all members of the team - communicate status to Management - deal with outside suppliers, consultants, etc.
  • manage integration - make sure all parts of the project work together
  • manage contracts - involves costs, schedules and communications
  • manage quality - make sure all work is done to spec