Project management is a complex concept and in order to understand its underlying principles one has to comprehend what a project and project management entails. A project is defined as an endeavor aimed at accomplishing a specific objective through a unique set of interrelated tasks and the effective utilization of resources within a pre determined period of time (Clements and Gido 2). The project must have a well defined objective that the organization wishes to address stated in terms of scope, schedule, and costs in order to effectively manage the process of planning and implementation (Clements and Gido 2).
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For efficient coordination of a project, it has to be executed through clearly outlined phases and life cycles. The first phase of project lifecycle involves identification of a need, problem or opportunity requiring the company to address and seek to solve this issue (Clements and Gido 2). Secondly, the company seeks to develop a solution to the problem which calls for formulation of a proposal that is aimed at suggesting the way forward in terms of implementing the solution.
Finally, the company embarks on implementation of the proposed solution through the application of the tools and mechanisms of project execution in order to accomplish the project’s objective while ensuring quality service provision and efficient execution in terms of the time and budget constraint (Clements and Gido 2). Therefore, implementation of a project requires extensive management. Project management requires establishment of a plan and implementation of that plan in order to accomplish the project’s objectives.
In order to successfully implement a project, the project management requires developing a well thought out plan, monitoring the continuous process of implementation of the project, as well as controlling the project through measuring the actual progress and comparing it to the planned progress in order to take corrective action where necessary (Clement and Gido 3). Implementing effective project management techniques promotes consumer satisfaction and consequently project managers strive to efficiently manage the projects by ensuring that they deliver quality service to their customers (Clement and Gido 3).
The Project management body of knowledge defines project management as “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to achieve project requirements; project management is accomplished through the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing “ (Lewis 4). Numerous organizations have established project management departments especially due to their increasing importance in the modern economy.
Both the private and public sector often get involved in projects requiring them to effectively manage the situation in order to get maximum returns. In order to achieve this, the companies employ highly qualifies project managers to oversee the execution of projects by ensuring that the process operates within the constraints of time, scope, and resources. The project manager is therefore charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the demands of a customer are met within the specified period of time, efficiently utilizes the available resources, and he also ensures that the customer receives quality service. One of the most common misconceptions about project management is that it is about scheduling (Lewis 6).
Despite the fact that scheduling is a major tool used in managing projects, it is not as important as developing a shared understanding of what the project is supposed to accomplish or constructing a good work breakdown (Lewis 6). The only thing a detailed schedule allows you to do in the absence of good management practices is documentation of the failures with great precision. It is therefore critical for project managers to focus on the objectives of the project and the means of achieving them efficiently.
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Being a project manager requires one to have the skills and capabilities of a good leader in order to be able to coordinate people from diverse backgrounds in such a way that he achieves the best possible results (Heerkens 5). Controlling people from diverse backgrounds and cultural orientations requires one to be patient and understanding as well as remaining objective when dealing with the fellow workers. Being a project manager is complicated by the fact that leading a project is a unique process which has never been undertaken before and consequently the end product and the process of producing it can not be fully specified in advance (Heerkens 5).
Therefore, the project managers face a high risk of failing in execution because they can not base their management on actual events in the past but have to make assumptions in order to predict the likelihood of an occurrence. Further, in some situations, the project leader may have no direct authority or control over the members of the team consequently making it difficult for the project members to follow the instructions. A project involves a degree of uncertainty since it is widely based on assumptions and estimates (Clements and Gido 7).
The project manager should ensure successful accomplishment of the project objectives by considering the constraining factors such as cost incurred during execution of the project e.g. cost of labor and raw materials, scope of the project, schedule and consumer satisfaction (Clements and Gido 7). The scope of the project entails all the work required to be done by the organization for a customer and the project manager should ensure that the work is completed in the specified period of time by avoiding unnecessary delays.
The cost of the project refers to the amount the customer has agreed to pay for the service delivery and it’s based on estimates of the costs associated with various resources that are required to complete the project (Clements and Gido 8). A project manager should ensure that the process does not exceed this amount by implementing measures aimed at cutting costs and avoiding misappropriation of the project’s funds. A project schedule on the other hand specifies when each activity should start and finish and the managers’ responsibility is ensuring that the workers conduct themselves accordingly (Clements and Gido 8). If a project manager is able to mobilize the other workers to deliver the project within the constraining factors, it would lead increased consumer satisfaction and confidence consequently increasing profitability as well as the consumer base.
However, due to uncertainties surrounding project implementation, unforeseen circumstances may arise in the future hindering effective executions of the project within predetermined constraints (Clements and Gido 8). Consequently, the project manager faces the challenge of preventing, anticipating, and overcoming such circumstances by ensuring good planning and communication across all stakeholders. In various situations, projects have been halted due to climatic changes, unavailability of raw materials among other factors. This has arisen primarily due to lack of proper planning and communication among those responsible for the project.
Consequently, the project manager needs to be proactive in planning and provide leadership to the project projection in order to promote the achievement of project objectives and in order to avoid creating losses from failed projects (Clements and Gido 9). Since the ultimate responsibility of the project manager is to ensure that the customer is satisfied, an efficient manager should aim at achieving beyond the project constraints into promoting direct communication with the customer to keep the customer informed about the project and attending to his demands which facilitates his understanding of the customer’s prevailing preferences in order to be able to determine consumer satisfaction throughout the project and in the future (Clements and Gido 9).
The scope of work for a project manager entails ‘planning the work and subsequent working the plan’ (Clements and Gido 9). The project manager should follow clearly outlined steps in the management and execution of a project. The manager should clearly define the project’s objectives and manage execution accordingly. He should incorporate the customers and the project executors in the planning activities in order to promote participation and avoid misunderstanding during the process of execution (Clements and Gido12).
The manager should also breakdown the project scope into work packages which serves to simplify complex projects and also facilitates allocation of labor to various departments as well as the different stakeholders (clement and Gido 12). In addition, the manager needs to define the specific activities that require to be performed for each work package and assign the duties to the relevant workforce in order to accomplish the project’s objective. He should further ensure that all the project’s activities are portrayed in a network diagram in which the necessary sequence and interdependencies of activities are outlined for easier execution of the project (Clements and Gido 12).
Effective planning ensures that the information on what needs to be done, individual responsibility, duration and costs are managed effectively. An effective project manager ensures efficiency to avoid such incidences as those that have taken place in the past whereby projects have overrun their budgets, missed their completion date and or only partially met their requirements due to lack of a viable baseline plan before the project was started (Clements and Gido 12). Consequently, a project manager should ensure that the project is adequately planned before setting out to implement it.
Globalization has further increased the complexity in handling and execution of projects by adding a unique dimension in management of projects (Clements and Gido 18). The project manager should therefore be conversant with cultural differences and multinational economic transactions in order to serve the global market effectively.
For instance, a project contractual outsourcing requirement to spend a percentage of the project budget on wages and materials in the customer’s country by employing indigenous labor or the use of local resources may in some situations result into an unstable environment and therefore the project manager should ensure that he puts into consideration such factors as currency and exchange rate fluctuations, specific country’s work codes and regulations, interdependence of world economies among other factors that may influence the overall performance of the project (Clement and Gido19). Since most organizations are competing at international levels, it is important to ensure that the project managers are conversant with international trade as well as international standards in order to deliver projects overseas effectively.
To some extent, project success will depend on personality traits such as honesty, tolerance, and openness of the leaders involved. Consequently, the project manager should develop the process management skills by learning the tools for coordinating the work of many people. He should also posses’ good interpersonal skills in order to be able to get things done efficiently through others (Heerkens 6). The project manager should also build a support network by incorporating people from diverse fields such as finance, marketing, technical experts etc in order to access knowledge and expertise which may be required in the execution of the project.
In addition, the project manager should promote team work among the team members and emphasize on individual contributions to the team’s success and he should convey confidence in the team by assigning stretch goals (Heerkens 10). Further, the project manager should set high standards for the project members whereby the good performers are highly rewarded which serves to provide motivation to the customers. An effective project managers should be highly qualified and should have organizational and leadership in order to manage costs and expenses of the project as well as being a good team leader.
The project manager should have the ability to delegate and monitor work by ensuring that various duties are delegated to qualified personnel while ensuring adequate oversight and supervision is available if needed (Thomsett 10). In addition, the project manager should manage time effectively in order to remain on schedule and when necessary, the manager may be required to use his own time in order to ensure that the project members are working efficiently and managing time (Thomsett 10). Effective project management should also emphasize on
Leading and management are very critical for the management of the project and in absence of one or the other, the project is likely to experience some difficulties or fail (Choudhuri 10). Project management is primarily concerned with production of key results that are expected by the customers while leadership is concerned with establishing directions and vision of the future as well as strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve this vision, communicating the vision to the project members as well as motivating and inspiring the fellow workers to overcome resource and other barriers in order to reach high levels of performance (Choudhuri 10).
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Consequently, the project manager is also expected to be the project’s leader and this should be demonstrated at all levels of the project. A significant percentage of the project manager’s time should go into ensuring effective communications across the stakeholders which involves accurate exchange of information within the organization (Choudhuri 10). The project manager should ensure that information relevant to the project and being transmitted to the project members is clear, unambiguous and complete manner so that the information is clearly understood by its intended recipients.
Project communication management applies to such broad concepts as sender-receiver models, presentation technique, and meeting management techniques among other concepts to the specific needs of the project (Choudhuri 10). The project manager should be able to determine the means to use in communicating with the fellow employees as well as the customers; he should ensure that the communication is done in time to avoid delays as well as ensuring that the information reaches the intended recipient (Choudhuri 10).
The project manager should also possess excellent negotiation skills in order to confer with other stakeholders to reach into an agreement. The manager should be able to negotiate on any issue and at any levels of the project either with the customers or fellow workers (Choudhuri 10). These issues may range from assignments, contracts terms and conditions, scope, cost, or schedule among other things (Choudhuri 10). In addition he should possess a problem solving skill which entails a combination of problem definition, as well as decision making.
In addition, he should be is able to distinguish between causes and symptoms which then lead to decision making which is characterized by critical analysis of an issue in order to identify the viable solutions and make the most suitable choice among them in order to move into implementation (Choudhuri 10). Further, the project manager should be influential in order to be able to get things done in and influence the conduct of fellow workers towards attainment of the project’s objectives.
Results and Recommendations
Project management is a complex process which has been further complicated by globalization in the modern society. From our analysis of the key components of an excellent manager, we find that this has to be facilitated by possession of leadership skills, interpersonal skills and wealth of experience in order to be able to handle people from diverse backgrounds and orientations. The project manager has to familiarize himself with the project constraints and the project cycle and approach the project in line with these factors in order to promote consumer satisfaction. In addition, the project manager should promote participation of workers and customers in the planning process in order to enhance communication and participation.
Companies should therefore ensure that they employ qualified, skills and experienced project managers in order to promote quality service delivery in the organization. This is especially because unqualified and ineffective project managers may cause losses in the projects consequently resulting in consumer dissatisfaction which can adversely affect business. The project managers should also be constantly trained in order to remain up to par with the current global changes in the economy which influences such projects. Continuous training of the project managers will also improve their planning and execution skills which will significantly reduce the likelihood of project failures.
A project aims at accomplishing specific objectives through efficient utilization of resources which calls for effective management of the project in terms of scope, schedule and costs. Consequently, the project manager ensures that the objectives of the project are achieved through quality service delivery within the constraining factors. The project manager establishes a plan through which the project members act in accordance in order to accomplish the project as well as monitoring the process of implementation to ensure that it does not go beyond its constraints in order to ensure consumer satisfaction. In order to be an excellent project manager, one has to utilize the skills and competencies such as leadership and interpersonal skills and should also involve the other stakeholders in planning in order to promote effective implementation of the project. Finally, the project manager should seek advice from other experts in order to promote efficiency in project execution.
Choudhuri Mallik Niladri. “Project Management Fundamentals.” ITC InfoTech India Ltd. 2010. Web.
Clements P James., & Gido Jack. Successful Project Management. NY: Cengage learning, 2008. Print.
Heerkens R Gary. Project Management: 24 Steps to Help You Master Any Project. NY: McGraw-Hill professional, 2007. Print.
Lewis P James. Fundamentals of Project Management. NY: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2007. Print.
Thomsett C. Michael. The Little Black Book for Project Management. NY: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2009. Print.