Research Project Management in Theory and Practice

Introduction

In the past decade, an increasingly higher number of organizations and project managers have begun to acknowledge the role played by project management. Most of the organizations’ undertakings are now categorized as projects. To better understand project management is important to differentiate between a project and project management. Project management can be defined as the “process of controlling the achievement of the project objectives” (Munns & Bjermi 1996, p.81).

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Through the use of organizational structures and available resources, project management is carried out with a view to aiding in managing projects through the use of different techniques and tools. In most cases, project management is executed while undertaking technological discoveries, inventions, new product development, or while carrying out extensive construction projects like construction of airports or roads. On the other hand, a project can be defined as the realization of a certain achievement or objective through a series of tasks and activities within a given timeframe, using resources like money and human resource (Munns and Bjermi 1996).

Moreover, a project has to be completed within a specified timeframe meaning, that it has a definite starting and ending date. Projects are usually unique in their design as they are carried out separately from other business activities. In addition, a project has a defined scope and it is controlled depending on its size, requirements, and goals. More importantly, the objectives of a project are defined in terms of quality, cost, and the specified timeframe. According to Heldman (2011), project management is headed by a project manager who makes sure that a project is achieved.

Importance of project management

In general, project management as described by Munns and Bejemi (1996), defines the requirements of a project, establishes the extent of work being undertaken, allocates the required resources, plans the execution of a project, monitors project progress, and adjusts any deviations from the set timeframe. The implication made is that project management oversees the design, planning, execution, monitoring, and evaluation of projects.

Based on the definition of a project as aforementioned, project management is a process carried out from the start of a project until the project is completed and has been evaluated. Planning and control of a project rely heavily on the process of project management. Usually, project management is concerned with the timely completion of a project within the set budget and using the allocated resources (Barnes n.d; DyReyes 2008).

According to Wessels (2007), one of the main reasons why project management is carried out by organizations is to make sure that the set specific goal of an organization is realized, using the allocated resources, time, and finances. For instance, in the case of an organization that is undertaking a project that involves developing new software, project management is used to ensure that the specific objective is realized as planned.

Moreover, the scope of achieving that specific strategic objective is set before the project starts and applied until the project is finished. Through the use of project management, the tasks of the project being undertaken are broken down into different phases that align with the definite organizational goal. Upon the completion of a certain task, evaluation is carried to cross-check whether the project aligns with the set strategic objective. Additionally, control and monitoring are carried out to ensure a project does not deviate from the set goals and objectives, and that it is checked and controlled (Gido & Clements 2009).

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Based on the project management theory, project management is carried by organizations to plan, control, and schedule a project (Ernø-Kjølhede 2000). Project managers use organizational structures and both financial and human resources to ensure that a project is completed in a timely manner. As acknowledged by Munns and Bejemi (1996), project management defines the activities to be carried, the players involved in the project, the duration, and the standards under which the project should be carried.

This has been supported by Mohammadjafari, Ahmed, Md Dawal, and Zayandehroodi (2011) who add that project management is being carried currently by organizations to ensure that resources and well utilized as planned. Furthermore, with the need to satisfy different stakeholders, project managers have come to realize that project management is an important undertaking that is a must. Furthermore, project management act as the bottom line performance objective of ensuring project cost management (Pokharek, Yeo & Wang (2010).

The implication made is that project management is carried to ensure that project costs and project schedules are carried to control the project via value management. Some projects such as megaprojects can take even ten years or more hence the need for project management to ensure accountability. In addition, project uncertainties like turnover may lead to resource constraints which may lead to poor allocation of available resources (Pokharek et al. 2010). To ensure that issues related to resource allocation do not recur, project managers apply the project management process.

According to Pokharek et al. (2010), complex manufacturing and high-tech operations share a common aspect of innovation management. In addition, the need to be able to generate new as well as competitive products that meet the demand of modern markets has become a continuous process. As a result, strategic project management is proposed to deal with the overlapping project tasks which may be demanding and confusing if carried without caution. To achieve market demand through the development of new competitive products, project management is applied as it aligns with a technological roadmap, functional roadmap, and corporate strategy.

Case Application

One of the companies that have successfully implemented the concept of project management in its operations is Hewlett-Packard (HP). According to PMI (2011), the company which operates a portfolio of projects in over 170 countries leaves no room for errors. As a technology giant, HP operates and manages large-scale projects which are part of the organization’s core business undertaking. As a result, the company relies heavily on project management to generate highly competitive products (PMI, 2011).

The company’s executives acknowledge that the organization has been using project management processes that are aligned with its corporate strategy, its functionality roadmap, and strategic objectives. This is because an estimated 90 percent of IT-related projects are always delivered late and with an increase in the allocated budget. To avoid this, HP Inc uses project management as a way of proving real-time visibility on its portfolio projects.

In addition, HP Inc has been able to develop a comprehensive education and employee training program which “aligns the portfolio with the project management business needs of HP employees in all business units worldwide” (PMI, 2011, p.1). The company also uses the accepted project management practices as detailed in the ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)’ which is a global standard used in project management (PMI, 2011).

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An exemplary use of project management in HP Inc was carried out in 2002 during its merger with Compaq Computer Corporation (Murphy, n.d). The project of $18.5 billion forced the company to integrate over 60,000 Compaq workers into more than 90,000 HP employees in over 160 countries. Project management was applied to develop new products, new systems, and transfer physical facilities (Murphy, n.d). To work under the allocated budget, the company had to apply project management.

Conclusion

In summary, project management involves planning, control, monitoring, and evaluation of projects. In modern organizations, project management plays an integral part in the organization by ensuring that organizational strategic goals are realized. In addition, project management ensures that the set project goals have been aligned with the market demand as well as competition in the market. It also ensures that proper tools, time, resources, and finances are applied well in order to realize the set goal. As such, project management prevents an organization from failing to realize its set organizational goals and strategic objectives.

Project managers control project uncertainties such as an increase in costs and resource constraints through project management. Strategic project management is used by organizations to produce competitive products and work on project tasks that are usually overlapping. As a result of competition and an increase in demand for accountability for resources allocated and finances, many organizations have resulted in the adoption of project management to realize organizational strategic objectives. Evaluation of a project is carried after every phase to cross-check whether the project aligns with the set strategic objective.

Control and monitoring of projects make sure that projects do not deviate from the set goals, finances, allocated resources, and set time frame. HP Inc has been using project management to eliminate errors, increase the budget, and increase the time frame. To achieve this, the company has designed a comprehensive education and employee training program offered to its employees. The program is aligned with the project portfolio and project management as well as adopting project standards and practices found in ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)’ to ensure that costs are reduced and projects realized.

Project turnover; causes and effects on project performance

In their article, ‘Project turnover; causes and effects on project performance”, Parker and Skitmore (2005) report that changes in management personnel within organizations (also referred to as succession, turnover, or displacement) have a huge negative impact on the performance of an organization. In the paper, Parker and Skitmore (2005) have utilized a web-based survey methodology so as to gather data on how turnover affects the implementation of project management in an organization and by extension, the performance of such an organization. According to the main findings of this research, turnover mainly occurs when a project has reached the implementation stage.

Through this research, the authors report that the high rate of turnover at organizations is mainly due to a growing need among employees to develop their careers. In addition, the authors also report that the turnover could also come about as a result of dissatisfaction with project management roles and organizational culture.

The authors have succeeded in confirming that indeed, turnover not only disrupts team performance but also has a negative effect on it as well. However, the paper has failed to provide research questions that it seeks to answer.

In addition, the author has not provided a research design that was used to execute this research. On the other hand, the research findings of the survey have been presented well. Moreover, the authors have also compared and contrasted their findings with other related studies, and this has given way to a concrete conclusion of the study. On the other hand, the paper has not provided any limitations faced by the researchers while carrying out the survey, or indeed the recommendations for future studies based on the findings and shortcomings of the study.

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The popularity of project management

Sheligram, Khim-Tech, and Tai-Yue (2006) report on the increased popularity of project management in the board. In their article, the authors sought to explore the value attached to the concept of project management in manufacturing and high-tech operations. The authors have also reported that senior executives are slowly realizing that project management is actually a valuable tool that can be harnessed to enable an organization to attain rapid convergence of enterprise performance and project development.

In this article, the authors report on the benefits of implementing project management in manufacturing and high-tech operations in the context of the Asian market. In addition, the article has also succeeded in adequately defining the themes of the study areas of the project management process as human resource, cost, system integration, and time, among others.

Besides, the paper has recognized the importance of human talents in the successful implementation of project management. Indeed, the authors have acknowledged the importance of value creation in as far as the concept of project management is concerned, and the ensuing benefits for both the organization and the customers as organizations are able to manufacture quality products in a timely manner.

The authors of this paper should have endeavored to contrast their findings on the value attached to project management in the manufacturing and high-tech operations in Asia with other parts of the world as well. Nevertheless, the authors have used concise and easy to understand the language in writing this paper. Also, the arguments of the authors have been articulated well, and they have also consulted widely from other secondary sources.

Reference List

Barnes, M. (n.d). What is project management? Web.

DyReyes, J. (2008). Strategic Project Management: aligning strategic business objectives with project management strategy. Web.

Ernø-Kjølhede, E. (2000). Project management theory and the management of research projects. MPP Working Paper No. 3/. Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Gido, J & Clements, J. P. (2009). Successful project management. Mason: South Western Cengage Learning.

Heldman, K. (2011). PMP project management professional exam: Study guide. Indianapolis: Wiley.

Mohammadjafari, M, Ahmed, S, Md Dawal, S, W & Zayandehroodi, H. (2011). The importance of project management in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the development of new products through E-collaboration. African Journal of Business Management, 5(30), 11844-11855.

Munns, A, K & Bjermi, B, F. (1996). The role of project management in achieving project success, International Journal of Project Management, 14(2), 81-87.

Murphy, P. B. (n.d). Project management in logistics a proven process for success: Project management. Web.

Parker, S. K., Skitmore, M. (2005). Project management turnover: Causes and effects on project performance. International Journal of Project Management, 23, 205-214.

PMI (2011). Case study: Taking project management learning to a higher level. Web.

Pokharel, S., Yeo, K., & Wang, T. (2006). Value of project management in high-tech and manufacturing operations. Journal of The Chinese Institute of Industrial Engineers, 23(6), 443-448.

Wessels, D, J. (2007). The strategic role of project management, PM World Today, IV (II), 1-10.

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