Much of a professional’s day-to-day work involves delivering projects. When you think of project management, many people tend to picture teams in large organisations working on large-scale projects. Many of your smaller tasks are actually projects as well. It can be disastrous to mistake a project for regular work.
According to the Project Management Institute there is a high failure rate with projects:
- 61% of projects don’t get done on time
- 56% are not on budget
- 47% don’t meet the original purpose.
Project management is a well-established and practiced methodology for medium and large projects. These projects can range in scale from organising an event, developing and implementing a new policy, to planning, designing and building massive infrastructure.
First, let’s define exactly what a project is, since the term is so wide-ranging. A project is something that:
- is temporary – in other words, it has a definite beginning and end.
- is unique – it has a specific set of operations designed to achieve a particular goal.
- has a defined scope – in terms of cost, time, performance, resources and scope.
- delivers outcomes and satisfies customer objectives, whether directly or indirectly.
Projects are temporary
Once a project has been identified and established there are five key phases in its life cycle:
- Context: establish the context to plan and guide the delivery of a project
- Planning: sanctioning, scope, estimating and scheduling a project
- Delivery: create a plan to ensure delivery of the project to milestones, within budget and deliver the required outcomes
- Monitor: regularly review and report project performance
- Closure & Review: sign-off of delivery, review and identify lessons learned.
A project has defined start and end dates, it is not an ongoing activity.
Projects create something unique
A project must have well-defined, specific goals, otherwise it lacks focus and makes it difficult to know when you have achieved the desired result. It is necessary to create milestones within a project as interim deliverables.
Deliverables set the stage for the project, allowing a Project Manager to plan and map on how and what is needed to get the project completed.
As a professional you may not feel the need to understand how project management works, since you assume that as a professional you can handle everything just fine.
Planning upfront makes a project much easier to deliver and more effective in the outcomes that result.
There are many benefits for you in learning the basics of project management and the stages that a project goes through.
Following standard project management principles helps you to efficiently manage costs and resources and more effectively deliver results.
Read: What Makes a Successful Project? Department of Information Technology Maryland.
Correctly identifying work as a project can mean the difference between successful completion or failure.
Try out our free course on preparing Project Foundations