“ Unique process consisting of a set of coordinated and controlled activities with start and finish dates, undertaken to achieve an objective conforming to specific requirements, including constraints of time, cost and resources”. ISO 10006
“ A temporary organization that is needed to produce a unique and predefined outcome or result at a pre-specified time using predetermined resources” PRINCE2
Development Projects must operate in a broader environment, project managers need to consider projects within this greater context.
Projects don’t exist in isolation they are influenced by two strong factors: the internal and external environment.
The internal environment includes conditions that the organization has established for the project work, including: Policies and procedures, compensation, benefits, standards, access and use of technology, norms, values, politics and the general organizational culture.
The external environment is made of the conditions that the project has little or no influence to change, including: donor and government requirements, international or local regulations, local infrastructure, limited availability of skills or a competitive labor market .
Every project is dependent upon processes, people, and tools and they determine how the work gets done. But these three essential elements are not equals. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and provides different values to projects.
Process - The policies and procedures and the roles and responsibilities required in managing development projects. Processes determine how the work needs to be accomplished. People - The skills and capabilities of the people in charge of managing the project, and whether or not they follow the processes and procedures to ensure quality of the services provided by the organization. Tools - The techniques and devices selected by the organization with the purpose to facilitate the management of the project.
A development project has to manage four basic constraints; scope , schedule , budget and quality .
The success of a project depends heavily on the ability, skills and knowledge of the project manager to take into consideration these constraints and develop the plans and processes to keep them in balance.
Scope , the boundaries of the project Schedule , the time to complete the project activities Budget , the funding available to cover all expenses of the project Quality , achieving the expectations of the stakeholders
Scope , is what the project is trying to achieve, it entails all the work involved in delivering the project outcomes and the processes used to produce them. Scope is the boundary of a project, it is what the beneficiaries, and the donors expect from the project.
Schedule , is defined as the time required to complete the project. It is an approximation of the duration of all activities in the project. Schedule constraints include specific dates to deliver an activity or complete the project.
Budget , are the funds approved for the project, they include all the required expenses needed in order to deliver the project within scope and schedule. A number of constraints, financial, political, and organizational, may dictate the methods by which resources such as personnel, equipment, services and materials are acquired.
Quality , is the fourth constraint and it is defined as delivering the project outcomes according to the stated or implied needs and expectations of the project beneficiaries and the donor agency. Quality is also defined as the conformance to requirements or fitness for use.
Initiation Phase. This phase is where an idea or a concept is authorized and funded as a project. It includes some planning and estimating to clarify its objective and scope. The major steps during the Initiation include:
Implementation Phase. The implementation phase includes taking all necessary actions to ensure the activities in the project plan are completed and the outputs of the plan are delivered. Steps in this phase include:
Monitoring Phase. Monitoring is about measuring the progress of a project against its objectives, looking at deviations from the plan, and recommending corrective steps to put the project back on track. Steps in this phase include:
Evaluate Project Reports.
Determine need for Changes
INITIATE CLOSE PLAN IMPLEMENT ADAPT MONITOR
Reports Issues/Risks Variance Changes Quality Control Team
Adapt Phase. The Adaptation phase refers to the process by which the project manager learns and adapts the methods, plans, and approaches and determines what works best for the project. Steps in this phase include:
There are nine management processes that are relevant to development projects. These are designed to help manage the different elements of a project. Different projects may have different needs from each process.
Schedule Management includes the development of a project schedule that contains all project activities, the project schedule is a communication tool that informs project stakeholders the status of the project and gives information as to when each activity must begin and end.
Budget Management processes are required to ensure that the project is completed within the approved budget. The project’s ability to manage the financial resources is a measure of the organization’s compliance with donor’s requirements and its efficiency.
Quality Management is the process to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs of the beneficiaries. Quality is defined as a commitment to deliver the project outputs and meet the expectations of the beneficiaries, which means that quality is ultimately defined by the beneficiary.
The most popular tool used to determine quality assurance is the Shewhart Cycle. This cycle for quality assurance consists of four steps: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. These steps are commonly abbreviated as PDCA.
Team Management includes the processes required to make the most effective use of the people involved with the project. Team management involves the careful planning to ensure the project has the right people at the right time doing the right things.
Stakeholders are all the people who have an interest in the project, they are the most critical element for the success of the project. They include donors, beneficiaries, local government, partner organizations and anyone who will be impacted by the project.
Information Management includes the steps required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information. 80% of a project managers’ time is spent communicating via reports, email, telephone, meetings or presentations.
Managing information requires the same level of discipline as the management of other project processes; by adequately taking care of each one of the steps the project can have control on the outcomes of the process and be confident on the quality of the information generated.
Risk Management includes the processes concerned with identifying, analyzing, and responding to project risks. Risk in projects is defined as something that may happen and if it does, it will have an adverse impact on the project.
The list of project risks changes as the project matures, new risks develop, or anticipated risks disappear. As the project makes progress the probability for risks to occur changes, but the potential impact increases; this has implications on the budget and other contingency plans developed by the team.
Contract management involves managing the relationship with the donor, sub-grantee and/or suppliers, monitoring contract performance, ensuring reports and payments are made on time and goods and services are delivered under specifications.
The communication or informational role is the most critical role for the success of the project, the organization, project staff, donors, beneficiaries and key stakeholders need to make critical decisions based on the information they receive.
The focus on this role is to ensure that the project team and the project stakeholders have a clear vision of the objectives of the project. A project manager does this by facilitating, coordinating and motivating the team to achieve the project goals.
Controlling is a responsibility to ensure the actions of the project team contribute toward the project goals; the project manager must establish standards for performance, measure performance and compare it with the established standards.
Managerial skills help in the day to day management of resources, constraints, and application of policies and procedures as well as develop ideas, solve problems creatively, negotiate and skills to interpret abstract information.
A project organization is a structure that facilitates the coordination and implementation of project activities. Its main purpose is to create an environment that fosters interactions among the team members with a minimum amount of disruptions, overlaps and conflict.
Each project has its unique characteristics. The design of an organizational structure should consider the organizational environment, the project constraints in which it will operate, and the level of authority the project manager is given. A project structure can take on various forms with each form having its own advantages and disadvantages.
Project managers have a high level of authority to manage and control the project resources.
With this type of structure the project manager has more control over the project and the resources needed to accomplish project objectives from within or outside the parent organization, subject only to the scope, schedule, budget, and quality constraints of the project.