Project Management Process Improvement

Nowadays, organizations are looking for new ways to manage their performance. One of the most popular approaches is project management that assists entrepreneurs to manage their businesses effectively in different fields with the help of the projects. Following the project management principles can bring an organization various advantages such as timely accomplishment of goals set by a company, minimal disruption, unique and creative solutions, and adequate budget.

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Demonstrates the Relationship Between Business Objectives, Programmes, and Computer Systems Projects

As a rule, a project involves a set of interrelated objectives. For example, the key objective of the project related to computer software may be the development of the information system managing the enterprise. Among the intermediate objectives (or sub-objectives), there can be a database design and the development of calculating software and testing systems (Kelemen, 2003). In their turn, in the development of the database, several sub-objectives also can be distinguished: the elaboration of the logical database structure, the implementation of the database management system (DBMS), loading of data, etc. The fact that the projects are focused on achieving certain objectives has a great sense for the internal management of an organization (Kelemen, 2003). To begin with, it suggests that an important feature of project management is the accurate determination and formulation of objectives starting with the top management and then gradually coming down to the most detailed objectives. This implies that a project can be regarded as the achievement of carefully selected goals, where its progress is determined according to the accomplishment of the current and then the ultimate objective.

A set of objectives set by an organization constitutes a program that usually focuses on the overall performance of a business. It can be identified imprecisely and take uncertain time to address challenges encountered by a company (Eisner, 2011). Furthermore, compared to a project, a program needs more attention to such levels as the organizational one. A program strives to ensure the overall enhancement of business, thus leading to various debates around the topic of how to implement and control the change processes (Eisner, 2011). It also requires a strong, skillful, and strategic manager who is able to communicate change throughout an organization.

It seems essential to point out that a lifecycle of a program consists of the following elements: a program definition, mobilization, delivery, and operation along with benefits realization (Kelemen, 2003). For example, a program model can take into account one or several of such issues as vision, scope, architecture, resourcing, objectives, and other variables. Each of these issues is specified by a program and then implemented within a separate project. From the above observations, it becomes evident that a program delivers through a project or projects, especially when there is a need for specific change. A range of measures to control these processes can be used by a programmer manager: costs, benefits, risks, dependencies, etc. (Eisner, 2011). Thus, one can note that a program and a project are interrelated and be considered together while formulating, planning, and executing change for a business.

The Importance the Business Case Showing Knowledge and Understanding of How a Project Supports the Business Strategic Plan

A business case is a comprehensive description of a business situation that occurred in an organization. This type of case is usually described by the external environment and internal environment of a company and its change over time (Wysocki, 2004). The events experienced by managers, as well as actions of the latter, are given in the order in which they actually occurred. However, most importantly, a case presents a challenge that needs to be addressed by a project manager or a team of managers. For example, in the case of Dr. John’s Products, John Osher, a director of the company, has to decide which way to develop the company: to extend the brand, enter into a partnership with one of the market leaders, or sell the business.

A business case usually involves a set of ambiguous data, changes in the competitive environment, or the apparent lack of proper solutions and rigid time constraints that are necessary for the adequate decision-making (Nickson and Siddons, 2005). Therefore, a manager is encouraged to develop a comprehensive solution to the problem by taking advantage of data collected from the case. Precisely speaking, such points as risks, benefits, strengths, weaknesses, and others can be noted in a business case document (Eisner, 2011). Thus, a business case immerses a manager in the atmosphere of the actual situation and allows him or her to gain experience in solving complicated problems. A business case supports the organization as it provides grounds for the comprehensive resolution of issues that threaten its successful operation (Wysocki, 2004). A well-designed business case reveals various feasible approaches to the given issue and makes it possible to select a correct decision.

Knowledge and Understanding of Project Management Methodologies

Project management focuses on the use of various methodologies, the most prominent of which is Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2 (PRINCE2). These methodologies have both common and distinctive features, yet they reveal the two core ideas, including that projects are executed in stages and project management processes. The first methodology is a professional guide to program management, while the latter refers to a de facto process-based method that implies its use by the private sector organizations and those of the government (Westland, 2007). Let us consider each of these methodologies in detail.

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Likewise, the other professional fields such as law, medicine, or accounting are based on the best practices of international companies and large organizations; project management contributes to the development of a standard that can be employed by any business to succeed. PMBOK introduces the key concepts and terms in the field of project management and specifies ten knowledge areas, among which one may note a project life cycle, external and internal organizational factors, strategies and techniques, and others (Westland, 2007). This is the core standard for a project manager in the US, the UK, and a range of other countries. The widespread recognition that is gained by PMBOK is an indication of its suitability and the fact that the application of relevant knowledge, processes, skills, tools, and techniques is crucial to the success of a project. It is also essential to emphasize that PMBOK provides and promotes the use of a common glossary of terms in project management that is needed to identify and discuss the corporate strategy that, in its turn, is regarded as an essential element of any professional discipline.

PRINCE2 is a proprietary project management methodology considering all levels of an organization that provides a structured approach to management, control, and execution of projects. This is the UK standard that was originally designed for IT projects and then expanded in other fields of business as well. PRINCE2 is based on a clear vision and is divided into eight stages (organization, planning, staging, quality, management of risks, etc.) and 45 sub-stages (Westland, 2007). At this point, each stage has its own set of objectives along with input and output artifacts. The fact that the mentioned criteria allow monitoring any deviations from the quality throughout a project lifecycle proves the value of this methodology. The distinctive feature of this standard is its scalability. In each sub-stage, it is clearly and accurately described what part could be omitted in case a project is small (Westland, 2007). PRINCE2 is the most prevalent in the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, South Africa, and countries of the Asian region. In other words, it is suitable for plenty of countries located worldwide. However, both PRINCE2 and PMBOK are considered to be valuable methodologies accepted all over the world and tried by many organizations to enhance their project managing.

Stages and Processes Involved in Project Management

A business project lifecycle involves several stages and processes that are crucial to controlling the process of project management. The stages that are also known as phases aim at ensuring that each project is accomplished successfully (Nickson and Siddons, 2005). In particular, the deliverables indicated at the end of each stage can be evaluated in order to identify the appropriateness of the initiation of the subsequent stage. It is possible to employ Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that helps a manager to divide a key objective into multiple steps, thus controlling and promoting the implementation of all the details (Wysocki, 2004). As a rule, stages may vary, depending on a certain organization and an objective, yet the following set of stages is considered to be universal:

  • Project strategy and business case. This stage determines the general business requirement, namely, proposes the necessary change.
  • Preparation. It helps to complete WBS, identify milestone level plan, and Project Initiation Document (PID), where the latter explains each team member the corporate objective of an organization (Westland, 2007).
  • Design. This stage promotes visualization of all the processes involved in project management. For instance, it is possible to apply the Flow Chart, Swim Lane Diagram, or infographics to make the main goal more comprehensible.
  • Development and testing. It is essential to verify the processes before implementing them.
  • Training and business readiness. This phase specifies and prepares resources required to initiate change (Kazmi and Kazmi, 2015).
  • Support and benefits realization. Continuous monitoring ensures the appropriateness of project management.
  • Project close. It implies the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) to understand the benefits and potential pitfalls of a project or a program (Westland, 2007).

The processes of project management also focus on a set of phases, while depending on an organization. They are presented below:

  • Phase management. Here a project manager ensures that all the phases are structured properly as well as deliverables and sign-off requirements.
  • Planning. This process relates to the team members, resources, methodology, and other elements that are included in a project.
  • Control. There are three paramount issues to control: scope, cost, and issues (Nickson and Siddons, 2005). The creation of the Project Dashboard can significantly facilitate this task.
  • Team management. In the context of this process, it is of great importance for a project manager to understand how to manage cross-functional teams, providing special support and training for employees so that they will be aware of the corporate goal and their role, in particular (Wysocki, 2004).
  • Communication. It concerns stakeholders, partners, employees, customers, and other interested parties involved in the project management of an organization.
  • Procurement. Sometimes it is necessary to employ a third party to assess project management, especially when it relates to IT projects. Thus, procurement management is to be used by a project manager.
  • Integration. Other areas of business can be connected to a project if required.

An Understanding of Documentation Used to Communicate Project Progress

As it was mentioned before, in order to monitor the progress of projects, a manager needs to use specific documentation that aims at the systematization of resources and strategies. The normative and regulatory documents determine the basic project management processes (Wysocki, 2004). According to the Guidance provided by ISO 21500:2012 Guidance on project management, programs, and project portfolios are to be documented in detail to organize the performance of a company (Kelemen, 2003). Among the most important documents, one may note a business case, project charter, risk register, status reports, statement of work, project management plan, etc. (Wysocki, 2004). The documentation of a project management process ensures that all the objectives are taken into account and that traceability is established in relation to the identified tasks. In other words, it is possible to state that documentation is a basis for quality, traceability, and execution of a project. One more advantage of documentation refers to the fact that it serves as a basis for evaluation and interpretation of progress (Kelemen, 2003). A project’s successful implementation expressed in the achieved objectives can be assessed by comparing the initial data and resources with those milestones that were finally reached. At this point, a project manager is responsible for the evaluation of the extent of the deviation and the solution of controversial issues. Thus, documentation also helps to increase the competency of productive project management.

How a PPSO Can Support the Project Management Team Members

Program and Project Support Office Manager (PPSO) helps to manage the multicultural environment that seems to be rather important in a nowadays globalized world in which different cultural collaborate in the context of one team. Following modern tendencies, it accepts effective teamwork between people located in different countries in spite of certain difficulties that may appear in the course of their collaboration, such as cultural differences and language barriers. It is significant to point out the fact that PPSO provides an opportunity for each team member to express his or her viewpoint towards the given issue (Orr, 2004). This means that the problem is considered from different perspectives, and the best possible solution will be chosen.

Playing a vital role in a project, PPSO ensures control over small projects and the core program as well. The range of activities of PPSO embraces experts in business development who provide planning and support required in the framework of project management (Orr, 2004). For example, each project is expected to start with an agreement between a project manager and a PPS manager concerning resources, timing, and objective. Considering the mentioned issues, a PPS manager balances different projects that are associated with the current needs of an organization (Orr, 2004). Speaking of benefits of PPSO for an organization, it seems crucial to point out that it collects and stores information concerning previous project data of which can be used to compare and analyze future business cases. Furthermore, it provides consistency, specialism, independence, and excellence to project management. Even though the role of PPSO may vary from organization to organization, depending on certain obstacles, it remains one of the most crucial elements in project managing.

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Conclusion

To conclude, it is essential to pinpoint the fact that the paramount value of project management is that it is not oriented on a product but strives to improve the overall performance of an organization as a result of the implementation of various projects run by a programme. In other words, it specifies how to combine the projects and programmes carried out within an organisation and use the subsequent project implementation experience for the development and promotion of strategic objectives. Most of today’s business issues involve complexity of the decisions that need to be addressed to achieve the effective execution of a company. To accomplish this mission, a programme is to be formulated and implemented in a strategic manner. The organisation of project activities is provided on the basis of project management methodologies, processes, and phases. These standards provide a concentration of best practices in a project management, form the basis for the interaction between the project teams, and make it possible to systematize knowledge in the corresponding area. At the same time, project management does not contain clear definitions that can be necessary to perform certain actions. Instead, it defines what should be done for the effective management of a company, and corporate documents developed on the basis of these standards determine how it should be done.

Bibliography

Eisner, H. (2011) Essentials of project and systems engineering management. New York: Wiley.

Kazmi, A. and Kazmi, A. (2015) Strategic management. London: McGraw-Hill.

Kelemen, M. (2003) Managing quality. London: Sage.

Nickson, D. and Siddons, S. (2005) Project disasters and how to survive them. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Orr, A. D. (2004) Advanced project management: A complete guide to the key processes, models and techniques. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Westland, O. (2007) The project management lifecycle: A complete step-by-step methodology for initiating, planning, executing and closing the project successfully. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

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Wysocki, R.K. (2004) Project management process improvement. Boston: Artech House.

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