In the present day world of opportunities and competition, the smart achieve their goals on time, within budget and with quality. This ability has become a necessity today, rather than a choice. In order to appreciate this fact, let us take closer look at the basic characteristics of a project.
What is a project?
- Projects have definite start and end dates.
- Projects are temporary in nature. Upon completion of the project, the team moves on. Here the team can be a one man army, or a very large group of people.
- Projects are progressively elaborated. At the start of the project we have very less information about the project. As we get into the project more and more, we gain more insight about the project. This calls for continuous planning, tracking and course correction.
- Projects are performed by people.
- Projects are unique in nature. Projects deliver unique product or services as outputs. No two projects are identical. There could be similar projects, and still the challenges will be different.
Whether one is a student preparing for an exam or a project manager of a metro rail construction projects, the basic project management tools and techniques will help to reach their destination with predictability.
Project Management is all about the application of project management good practices to achieve the project’s objectives within the agreed upon triple constraints of;
- Time – Must be completed within the agreed upon time
- Cost – Must be completed within the agreed upon cost
- Scope – Must meet the agreed upon objectives / scope
The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is the mother of all management, and covers project management as well.
- Plan – First plan for the successful project outcome
- Do – Execute the project
- Check – Track the project to see whether everything is happening as per the plan
- Act – If the actual project progress is different from the planned, then take corrective / preventive actions
In practice, the PDCA cycle is applicable for those projects where scope of the project is very clear, and the technology part is familiar to the project team.
The Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle is most suitable for those projects where the scope is not very clear at the beginning (evolving). and the technology is very new to the team. PDSA is the backbone of all adaptive / agile project management frameworks like Scrum, XP, RUP, TDD, DAD etc.
When does projects fail?
- At the beginning
- During execution
- At the end
Generally the root causes of project failure happens at the beginning of the project. Here are some of the main causes for project failures;
- We start projects without a solid business case to support them
- We apply a very wrong project strategy to execute the projects
- We choose the wrong contract types, which does not support the project strategy
- Wrong estimates
- Technical debt of the team
- Wrong selection of the project manager
- Poor risk management
As discussed before, no two projects are identical. One must spend enough time to develop the project strategy, charter and the project plan. I am not talking about copy paste plans. I am talking about those which are built from ground zero, with the sole objective of making you and your projects successful.
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