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Tools & Techniques for Successful Project Management

Project management involves the careful planning and organizational effort to accomplish a successful project. It also involves developing a strategy that outlines the objective and desired outcomes of the project and a plan to achieve the objective, given the resource constraints. Any project, large or small, requires a set of tools and techniques to be successful.

Scope and Goals Definition


It is vitally important to set the scope and formal goals for each project. Setting the scope of the project is a simple brainstorming exercise in which you outline the objective and desired outcome of the project. This outlines the direction the project will take. Tasks and milestones provide clarity in successful execution of the project. Tools like MS Project help you to create the plan and strategy. They also enable you to keep a progress record of the project.

Understand the Context


Every project is unique. Even though it may have similarities with another project, no two projects can ever be the same. Understanding the context of the particular project you are working on is important in order to keep the team and those involved with the project motivated and focused toward the goals of the project. As a project manager, you will often need to work with people of different levels of intellect. Therefore, emphasizing the context will allow your team to be on the same level of understanding (thereby making it possible for them to work together toward the same goal).

Team Engagement
Selecting the right people for the right tasks is one of the determining factors of a successful project. Diversity within a team is common. Therefore, it is your responsibility as an efficient manager to assign tasks to team members according to their skills and capabilities. Understand your resources' strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. This will enable you to accurately select which tasks are best suited for your resources.

Time Assessment
Successful project management involves successful execution of many small tasks in a particular period. Assigning the time frame for each task is essential not only for the team to be focused but also for you as a manager to monitor the progress of the project. Deadlines are critical and hold your team accountable for completing the project on time. Use deadlines and emphasize their importance.

Tools & Techniques for Successful Project Management

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Monitoring and Evaluation


Monitoring the progress of a project is essential for any contingency action that may be in order. No matter how detailed your plan of execution, there will always be factors beyond your control. These factors may work in your favor and there may be times when they seem like high tides threatening your boat. Observe the flow of the project through project monitoring and evaluation, and then make corrections or changes in your initial plan to ensure the desired outcome.

Project Management Requirements

Technical

Project management technical requirements include the elements of project strategy, implementation, initiation and documentation. Technical requirements outline the order in which projects are analyzed from start to finish while also providing procedural guidance for adjustments that could be related to cost or other unseen factors. A strong project management function with technical requirements can save an organization money, time and resources when developing a project.

Project Planning
The first technical requirement of project management is to establish project planning standards. The role of management at this step is to develop project plans to analyze project resources, identification and risks. Plans should highlight and describe management system processes (organizational management), benefits and weaknesses, information management resources and network requirements. At this level, project goals are established and communicated throughout the organization.

Configuration Management
Configuration management is a controller function that monitors abrupt changes or delays in a project management plan. When a problem has occurred during a project that may cause delays in the project, this technical requirement analyzes the baseline needs of the project and suggests alternate plans to avoid disruption.

Quality Assurance
At every step of a project management plan, quality assurance should be implemented to ensure those involved are following procedures. Every technical requirement should have a quality assurance inspection or audit checklist to review different processes of the plan. For example, the construction of a new highway must have quality assurance modules implemented in the area of construction and public safety. Quality assurance checks are typically written and documented into the start phase of each project.

Project Management Technical Requirements

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Documentation
Documentation includes descriptions of current systems, procedures, amendments and the use of information systems in a project management environment. Without documentation, there is no reference or history of activities of project development. Documentation can be used as a resource to help project managers or engineers understand the "big picture" of the project and where certain activities fit. Documentation also includes exception reports, which provide personnel with "what if" and "decision support" information. Automated programs can provide various PERT or Gannt charts to document project timelines and statistics.

Typical Project Constraints


Resource Constraints
Key staff resources will be available only on a part-time basis. Computer resources will be available on a limited basis. Key customer resources will be available on a restricted basis. A significant percentage of the project staff will not be experienced with the technical environment. A significant percentage of the project staff will not be experienced with the operating environment. The customer has limited staff capable of adequately describing in detail the functional requirements of the system. The customer has limited staff capable of adequately describing in detail the operational requirements of the system.

Delivery Constraints
Deliverables submitted for approval will require working days for review. There is no limit to review and approval cycles. Equipment order lead times cannot be specified with accuracy.

Environmental Constraints
The development or operating environment is new, and no project staff members are familiar with it. Key decision-makers are difficult to contact when issues arise. The project does not have a customer project manager (or executive sponsor, or steering committee) The project environment is new and the components have not yet been successfully integrated. The project depends upon the successful and timely completion of associated projects.

Typical Project Constraints

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Budgetary Constraints
Statistics used in preparing the estimates are unreliable. Outside consulting requirements cannot be accurately estimated.

Functionality Constraints
The scope of the project is unclear. The project depends upon receiving data from other, external applications.

Major Aspects of project planning

One of the critical factors for project success is having a well-developed project plan. This article provides a 10-step approach to creating the project plan, not only showing how it provides a roadmap for project managers to follow, but also exploring why it is the project manager's premier communications and control tool throughout the project.

Step 1. Explain the project plan to key stakeholders and discuss its key components.
One of the most misunderstood terms in project management, the project plan is a set of living documents that can be expected to change over the life of the project. Like a roadmap, it provides the direction for the project. And like the traveler, the project manager needs to set the course for the project, which in project management terms means creating the project plan. Just as a driver may encounter road construction or new routes to the final destination, the project manager may need to correct the project course as well. A common misconception is that the plan equates to the project timeline, which is only one of the many components of the plan. The project plan is the major work product from the entire planning process, so it contains all the planning documents for the project. Typically many of the project's key stakeholders, that is those affected by both the project and the project's end result, do not fully understand the nature of the project plan. Since one of the most important and difficult aspects of project management is getting commitment and buying, the first step is to explain the planning process and the project plan to all key stakeholders. It is essential for them to understand the importance of this set of documents and to be familiar with its content, since they will be asked to review and approve the documents that pertain to them.

Components of the Project Plan Include:


Baselines: Baselines are sometimes called performance measures, because the performance of the entire project is measured against them. They are the project's three approved starting points and include the scope, schedule, and cost baselines. These provide the 'stakes in the ground.' That is, they are used to determine whether or not the project is on track, during the execution of the project.

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Baseline management plans: These plans include documentation on how variances to the baselines will be handled throughout the project. Each project baseline will need to be reviewed and managed. A result of this process may include the need to do additional planning, with the possibility that the baseline(s) will change. Project management plans document what the project team will do when variances to the baselines occur, including what process will be followed, who will be notified, how the changes will be funded, etc. Other work products from the planning process. These include a risk management plan, a quality plan, a procurement plan, a staffing plan, and a communications plan

Step 2. Define roles and responsibilities.


Not all key stakeholders will review all documents, so it is necessary to determine who on the project needs to approve which parts of the plan. Some of the key players are: Project sponsor, who owns and funds the entire project, Sponsors need to review and approve all aspects of the plan. Designated business experts, who will define their requirements for the end product. They need to help develop the scope baseline and approve the documents relating to scope. They will be quite interested in the timeline as well. Project manager, who creates, executes, and controls the project plan. Since project managers build the plan, they do not need to approve it. Project team, who build the end product. The team needs to participate in the development of many aspects of the plan, such as identifying risks, quality, and design issues, but the team does not usually approve it. End users, who use the end product. They too, need to participate in the development of the plan, and review the plan, but rarely do they actually need to sign off. Others, such as auditors, quality and risk analysts, procurement specialists, and so on may also participate on the project. They may need to approve the parts that pertain to them, such as the Quality or Procurement plan.

Step 3. Hold a kickoff meeting.


The kickoff meeting is an effective way to bring stakeholders together to discuss the project. It is an effective way to initiate the planning process. It can be used to start building trust among the team members and ensure that everyone's ideas are taken into account. Kickoff meetings also demonstrate commitment from the sponsor for the project. Here are some of the topics that might be included in a kickoff meeting: Business vision and strategy (from sponsor) Project vision (from sponsor) Roles and responsibilities Team building Team commitments How team makes decisions Major Aspects of project planning 5

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Ground rules How large the group should be and whether sub-groups are necessary

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Step 4. Develop a Scope Statement.


The Scope Statement is arguably the most important document in the project plan. It's the foundation for the rest of the project. It describes the project and is used to get common agreement among the stakeholders about the scope. The Scope Statement clearly describes what the outcome of the project will be. It is the basis for getting the buy-in and agreement from the sponsor and other stakeholders and decreases the chances of miscommunication. This document will most likely grow and change with the life of the project. The Scope Statement should include: Business need and business problem Project objectives, stating what will occur within the project to solve the business problem Benefits of completing the project, as well as the project justification Project scope, stated as which deliverables will be included and excluded from the project. Key milestones, the approach, and other components as dictated by the size and nature of the project.

It can be treated like a contract between the project manager and sponsor, one that can only be changed with sponsor approval.

Step 5. Develop scope baseline.


Once the deliverables are confirmed in the Scope Statement, they need to be developed into a work breakdown structure (WBS), which is a decomposition of all the deliverables in the project. This deliverable WBS forms the scope baseline and has these elements: Identifies all the deliverables produced on the project, and therefore, identifies all the work to be done. Takes large deliverables and breaks them into a hierarchy of smaller deliverables. That is, each deliverable starts at a high level and is broken into subsequently lower and lower levels of detail. The lowest level is called a "work package" and can be numbered to correspond to activities and tasks.

The WBS is often thought of as a task breakdown, but activities and tasks are a separate breakdown, identified in the next step.

Step 6. Develop the schedule and cost baselines.


Here are the steps involved in developing the schedule and cost baselines. Identify activities and tasks needed to produce each of the work packages, creating a WBS of tasks. Major Aspects of project planning 6

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Identify resources for each task, if known. Estimate how long it will take to complete each task. Estimate cost of each task, using an average hourly rate for each resource. Consider resource constraints, or how much time each resource can realistically devoted to this project. Determine which tasks are dependent on other tasks, and develop critical path. Develop schedule, which is a calendarization of all the tasks and estimates. It shows by chosen time period (week, month, quarter, or year) which resource is doing which tasks, how much time they are expected to spend on each task, and when each task is scheduled to begin and end. Develop the cost baseline, which is a time-phased budget, or cost by time period.

This process is not a one-time effort. Throughout the project you will most likely be adding to repeating some or all of these steps.

Step 7. Create baseline management plans.


Once the scope, schedule, and cost baselines have been established, you can create the steps the team will take to manage variances to these plans. All these management plans usually include a review and approval process for modifying the baselines. Different approval levels are usually needed for different types of changes. In addition, not all new requests will result in changes to the scope, schedule, or budget, but a process is needed to study all new requests to determine their impact to the project.

Step 8. Develop the staffing plan.


The staffing plan is a chart that shows the time periods, usually month, quarter, year, that each resource will come onto and leave the project. It is similar to other project management charts, like a Gantt chart, but does not show tasks, estimates, begin and end dates, or the critical path. It shows only the time period and resource and the length of time that resource is expected to remain on the project.

Step 9. Analyze project quality and risks.


Project Quality: Project quality consists of ensuring that the end product not only meets the customer specifications, but is one that the sponsor and key business experts actually want to use. The emphasis on project quality is on preventing errors, rather than inspecting the product at the end of the project and then eliminating errors. Project quality also recognizes that quality is a management responsibility and needs to be performed throughout the project. Creating the Quality Plan involves setting the standards, acceptance criteria, and metrics that will be used throughout the project. The plan, then, becomes the foundation for all the quality reviews and inspections performed during the project and are used throughout project execution. Project Risks: A risk is an event that may or may not happen, but could have a significant effect on the outcome of a project, if it were to occur. For example, there may be a 50% chance of a significant Major Aspects of project planning 7

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change in sponsorship in the next few months. Analyzing risks includes making a determination of both the probability that a specific event may occur and if it does, assessing its impact. The quantification of both the probability and impact will lead to determining which the highest risks that need attention are. Risk management includes not just assessing the risk, but developing risk management plans to understand and communicate how the team will respond to the high-risk events.

Step 10. Communicate!


One important aspect of the project plan is the Communications Plan. This document states such things as: Who on the project wants which reports, how often, in what format, and using what media? How issues will be escalated and when. Where project information will be stored and who can access it.

For complex projects, a formal communications matrix is a tool that can help determine some of the above criteria. It helps document the project team's agreed-on method for communicating various aspects of the project, such as routine status, problem resolution, decisions, etc. Once the project plan is complete, it is important not just to communicate the importance of the project plan to the sponsor, but also to communicate its contents once it's created. This communication should include such things as: Review and approval of the project plan. Process for changing the contents of the plan. Next stepsexecuting and controlling the roles/responsibilities in the upcoming phases.

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Construction work
Construction Work is classified as (I) Light construction (II) Heavy construction (III) Industrial construction I. II. Light construction works are works with light structural members. E.g. Residential buildings, Schools etc. Heavy construction works are the works with heavy structural members on massive foundations and these require heavy machinery and equipment E.g. Bridge, Dams, Railways etc. Industrial construction works are the works related to industries, which needs special equipment and skills. E.g. Oil refineries, Steel mills, Atomic reactors etc.

III.

Stages of construction
Stage 1. Stage 2. Conception Study and evaluation Construction work 8

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Stage 3. Stage 4. Stage 5. Design Contract Construction and Utilization and maintenance

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Functions of Project Management


Project management involves the following three functions I. II. III. Project Planning Project Scheduling Project Controlling

Project Planning and Project Scheduling are accomplished before the actual project starts. Project Controlling is operative during the execution of the project and its aim is to recognize the difficulties during the execution and to apply corrective measures to deal with these difficulties.

I. Project Planning
Planning is the most important phase of the project management. Planning involves defining objectives of the project, listing of tasks or jobs that must be performed, determining gross requirements of materials, equipment and manpower and preparing estimates of costs and durations for various jobs or activities to bring about the satisfactory completion of the project.

Importance of Planning
It provides direction. It provides unifying framework. It helps to reveal future opportunities and threats. It provides performance standards. Plan is made strategies are set, taking into consideration the companys policies procedures and rules.

Plan
It is interpreted in terms of what has to be done to resources to achieve the intent. The resources to be used may be office staff, labor, materials, plant and machinery, space and funds. Plans simply list goals (target) and define the means of achieving them.

Strategies
Strategies are one important type of plan. It specifies the central concept or purpose of the enterprise as well as the means by which it intends to carry that purpose.

Policies, procedures and rules


Policies usually set broad guidelines for the enterprise. Functions of Project Management 9

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Procedures specify how to proceed in some situation. A rule is even more specific guide for action. Plan should be finalized at strategies should be set only after taking into considerations the companys policies, procedures and rules.

Steps in project planning


Following eight steps are generally recognized in the planning process of a project: Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Define the objectives of the project in definite words. Establish goals and stages intermediate to attain the final targets. Develop forecast and means of achieving goals that is activities. Evaluate organizations resources financial, managerial and operational to carry out activities and to determine what is feasible and what is not. Determine alternatives individual courses of action that will allow to accomplish goals. Test for consistency with companys policy. Choose an alternative which is not only consistent with its goals and concept but also one that can be accomplished with the evaluated resources. Decide on a plan.

II.

Project Scheduling

Scheduling is the allocation of resources. These resources are time, space, equipment and manpower applied to material. Scheduling is the layout of the actual activities of the project in time order in which they are to be performed and calculating the manpower and material requirements needed at each stage of project work along with the expected completion time of each activity.

Steps in Project Scheduling Phase


Scheduling is done in the following steps: Step 1. Calculate detailed control information. Step 2. Assign timings of events and activities. Step 3. Give consideration to the resources. The manager is generally concerned with those resources whose availability is limited and which thereby impose a constraint on the project. The important ones are usually skilled, technical and supervisory manpower and capital investment. Step 4. Allocate the resources.

III.

Project Controlling

Project control is the formal mechanism established to determine deviations from the basic plan, to determine the precise effect of these deviations on the plan and to apply corrective measures to compensate for the deviations.

Functions of Project Management

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Steps in control process:


Controlling is accomplished in the following well recognized steps Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Establish standard or targets. These targets are generally expressed in terms of time. Measure performance against the standards set down in the first step. Identify the deviations from the standards. Suggest and Select corrective measure involves all problems identifying, decision-making and organizing and leadership skill of the decision-maker.

Decision Making
Decision making is a daily activity for any human being. There is no exception about that. When it comes to business organizations, decision making is a habit and a process as well. Effective and successful decisions make profit to the company and unsuccessful ones make losses. Therefore, corporate decision making process is the most critical process in any organization. In the decision making process, we choose one course of action from a few possible alternatives. In the process of decision making, we may use many tools, techniques and perceptions. In addition, we may make our own private decisions or may prefer a collective decision. Usually, decision making is hard. Majority of corporate decisions involve some level of dissatisfaction or conflict with another party.

Role of Decision in Project Management:


While planning, organizing, staffing, leading, scheduling and controlling are the basic functions of the project management, each of these decisions as to which plan to implement, what goals to achieve, what ways to use etc. The success or failure of management is judged from the decision it takes at various stages.

Steps in decision making:


Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Identify the central problem. Develop the alternatives. Analyze the alternatives. Make final decision.

Techniques for analyzing alternatives (Operation Research):


Generally we have several alternatives and it is essential to evaluate them before we choose the best out of them. This can be successfully done through operation research. The operation research is a set of mathematical techniques through which a variety of organizational problems can be analyzed and solved.

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Steps in Operational Research Techniques:


Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Formulate the problem. Construct a mathematical model to represent the system under study. Derive a solution for the model Test the model and solution derived from it Establish controls over the solution Put the solution to work and implementation.

Resources

In running a project there is a basic need of resources. These resources can be classified as Material Resources (WHAT)(Including financial resources) Equipment Resources (HOW) Space Resources (WHERE) Effort or Manpower resources (WHO) Time Resources (WHEN)

Resources are the starting point of many problems that have to be solved by the manager in the planning phase, before proceeding for scheduling phase of the project.

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