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How to select project management services How to select project management services How to select project management services

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Project management services specialize in planning, coordinating, and executing projects according to specific requirements and constraints. They perform some or all of the activities related to project work, from conceptualization to completion. Emphasis is placed on creating and maintaining project milestones and the project schedule.  The end goal is to complete the project on time and within budget.

 

Project management services help organizations achieve project goals and objectives within scope, time, and budgetary constraints. They can also help optimize the allocation of resources and integrate the inputs that will drive the completion of the project's objectives. The development of a project plan is critical, as this document defines and confirms broader goals and specific objectives. The project plan also identifies tasks, describes how goals will be achieved, and quantifies the resources that are needed.

 

Project managers can help define the overall project budget and specific timelines for task completion. While managing the plan, project management services must operate within a recognized framework that ensures accurate and objective reporting. If a milestone is missed, then project planners and managers must take corrective action.

 

Some criteria to consider when selecting project management services include:

  • The type of project and deadline are vital to kicking off the project management process.
  • The organization's industry or the product can help determine the best project management methodology.
  • The ability of the project manager is an important consideration since he or she drives project management process. 

Project Management Process

 

Project management begins with planning to achieve a goal.  Many questions about a project must be considered before the project even begins:

  • Why is the project being initiated?
  • What problem is being solved?
  • Who are the project's stakeholders? (The stakeholders are the "customers" of the project as well as anyone else that may be impacted.)
  • How does the project fit in with the organization's goals and priorities?
  • When is the target date of completion for the project?  

Documentation used throughout a project's management is known as the project plan and includes:

  • Objectives
  • Schedules
  • Reports 

Communication is an important aspect of project management that cannot be forgotten throughout the course of the project.  All of a project's stakeholders should receive regular updates via email, meetings, conference call, or by viewing a project's dashboard.  Communication during all phases of the project can help avoid costly rework at a later date.

 

Project Management Tools

 

A project can be organized and tracked using special tools.  Tools used to track projects can be as simple as charting progress on a whiteboard or as complex as specialized project management software.  A project manager can create charts in word processing or spreadsheet programs or use specialized software.  Some examples of project management tools include:

  • Dashboards
  • Gantt charts
  • Project scheduling
  • Resource planning
  • Team collaboration
  • Time recording and tracking
  • Issue tracking
  • Project reporting 

How to select project management services

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Project Management Methodologies

 

Traditional Project Management

 

The traditional approach to project management is based on sequential steps.  It has evolved to handle projects that clearly state a need, target date, and cost.  The steps may vary by individual organization and usually include:

  1. Initiation to gain an understanding of the scope of the project, identify stakeholders, and develop objectives.
  2. Planning and design to further define the objectives and break the work into manageable tasks.  Time and cost estimates, sequence and scheduling, and resource assignment should take place during this step.
  3. Execution and construction occurs after the project plan has been approved by stakeholders or other decision makers.
  4. Monitoring and controlling systems take place throughout the course of development so changes can be made as needed. Milestones are highlighted and regular reports are issued to stakeholders.
  5. Completion includes evaluation of the project, a final report, and handoff to the customer and permanent support group.  

The waterfall model is often used in the software development process.  The steps flow sequentially from one to the next like levels of a waterfall.

 

How to select project management services

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Critical Chain Project Management

 

Critical chain project management (CCPM) allows for physical and human resource limitations by designing the project to deal with uncertainties.  A critical path of steps is identified to give priority to the longest sequence of tasks with resource constraints.  The constrained resources are known as the critical chain. 

 

The project plan may undergo resource leveling, the process of resolving conflicts of a person's or machine's time.  Because some tasks may be delayed due to conflict, other tasks must be shortened so that the project can still be completed by the target date.  In some cases it is advisable to contract out sub-projects to eliminate resource conflict.

 

Extreme Project Management

 

Based on the frequent change and uncertainty, extreme project management is designed for projects with high stakes and short deadlines.  Extreme projects place emphasis on innovation and quality of life. Requirements can change rapidly.  The focus of extreme project management is less on templates and more on leadership, because a leader can help navigate a rapidly changing environment.

 

Agile Project Management

 

One of the newest methods of project management is agile project management, often used in software development.  Emphasis is placed on an integrated team of developers, managers, quality assurance, and customers and open communication is a key to the effectiveness of this method.  Short-term deliverables called sprints allow for testing and changes.

 

Process-Based Project Management

 

A strategic form of project management that is driven by the vision, mission, and values of a business, project-based management has six stages:

  1. Defining the process.
  2. Establishing methods of evaluation.
  3. Analyzing the performance of the process.
  4. Analyzing process stability and, if needed, setting new objectives.
  5. Planning improvements.
  6. Implementing improvements. 

Event-Chain Methodology

 

Event-chain methodology recognizes that certain risks are taken in project management that could delay or speed up outcomes.  Scenarios for time-related processes can be determined by modeling these uncertainties. Project managers can use this method to determine if a chain of events could be triggered by a specific task and plan to avoid or achieve that process.

 

PRINCE2

 

The Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) methodology is used extensively in the United Kingdom government.  It is a flexible method designed to balance current business operations and a need to transform those operations in order to remain competitive.  The process itself is structured around managing the six project variables of costs, timescales, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.

 

PRISM

 

Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods (PRiSM) is used to align project delivery and sustainability.  Although similar to PRINCE2, it differs because long-term organizational impacts are considered with this methodology. 

 

Lean

 

The lean methodology is based on the principle of lean manufacturing or lean enterprise that value for the customer is of utmost importance.  Any steps that do not create value for the customer are considered wasteful and should be eliminated.  Lean is based on four steps to be performed in a cycle of continuous improvement:

  1. Plan a simple, efficient system.
  2. Do the work involved to implement the system.
  3. Check the efficiency of the system.
  4. Act on the measures that were checked by continuing with the use of the new system or planning changes that should be made to further improve efficiency.  

Video Credit:  LEI 

 

Benefits Realized Methodology

 

The Benefits realized methodology is based on looking at potential outcomes and defining the measure of their potential benefits.  A quantitative basis is used to make decisions in this methodology.  Plans are reviewed and implemented keeping the investment in mind.

 

Methodology

Structured

Timeline

Project Type

Traditional (Waterfall)

Highly

Any

Any

Critical Chain

Moderately

Any

Any

Extreme

Less

Short

Software

Agile

Less

Short

Software

Process-Based

Highly

Any

Any

Event-Chain

Moderately

Any

Any

PRINCE2

Less

Any

Any

PRISM

Moderately

Long

Any

Lean

Moderately

Any

Any

Benefits Realized

Highly

Any

Any

 

Project Managers

 

A project manager is responsible for planning and executing a project.  He or she leads the team in all aspects of management and is responsible for delegating tasks.  A project manager may be employed by the company requiring the work or may be brought in from the outside.  A project manager has full responsibility for the project in addition to the authority to complete it.

 

Some responsibilities of the project manager include:

  • Developing the project plan
  • Managing the stakeholders and team
  • Managing the schedule and budget
  • Managing the risk
  • Managing conflicts

Certification in Project Management

 

A skilled project manager can manage any project regardless of industry-specific knowledge.  Many colleges offer programs for certification in project management.  Organizations such as Project Management Institute (PMI) offer several types of certification based on level of experience or preferred methodology. 

 

A project manager may be certified or expert in:

  • Professional standards based on methodology
  • Industry standards
  • Private standards for in-house methodologies
  • Tools

Resources

Project Management Institute

Project Management Tools

eXtreme Project Management

Agile Project Management

PRINCE2

Project Management

Critical Chain Project Management - Estimating and Scheduling

Project Management Using Event Chain Methodology 

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