A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge defines project as "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. The temporary nature of projects indicates a definite beginning and end. The end is reached when the project's objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated because its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the need for the project no longer exists.” (PMBOK, 2008, p. 5).
The discipline of project management has various definitions. Some describe it as a systematic method of planning and guiding a project from start to finish, while others have defined project management as a methodical approach of achieving targets and goals while optimizing the use of resources such as people, money, time, and space. Some have referred to project management as the ability to be open and to elicit commitments through effective communication regarding how team members are willing to participate. More specifically, the PMBOK (2008) defines project management as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” (p. 6).
Project management is therefore accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of systematic and logically grouped project management processes within five process groups including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, as well as closing. Thus, good project managers should be able to understand and effectively execute all project management processes for each unique project while communicating effectively within their own teams as well as with all stakeholders across the organizational network. Project managers must also be artful at delegation, and they must understand that a cohesive team that works well together is critical to their success.
While many associate project management with military logistics, information technology, and construction, project management procedures are integrated in some aspect of most occupations. Today, in addition to their normal duties, employees are often expected to take on additional assignments to get the job done on time and under budget.
This course will walk you through the nuts and bolts of project management. From understanding the project life cycle to setting priorities and expectations to controlling expenses and reporting results, project management touches several resources within organizations. You will examine roles and environments and various techniques of planning, evaluation, and control. An overview of the tools used in contemporary project management will also be discussed throughout the course.
According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a project is "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result." The broader definition states that a project is "an endeavor that requires an organized set of work efforts that are planned in a level of detail that is progressively elaborated as more information is discovered." Projects should result in developing a new product or service, improving or modifying existing goods, services, and procedures. The bringing together of skilled resources to create something new or different using effective management processes is the cornerstone of project management. In practice, project management is defined as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”. A project manager should be able to identify project requirements, address the various needs, concerns, and expectations of the stakeholders as the project is planned and carried out, and also to balance the competing project constraints in terms of project scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources and risk.
In this unit, you will be given a foundation in project management through explorations of the history of the discipline, as well as a discussion of the contemporary frameworks used by organizations today.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13 hours.
Every project has a life cycle, or a series of milestones and accomplishments that must be met throughout the project. The first stage of the project management life cycle (PML) is initiation. In this stage, the project is chartered and mission statements as well as the project's overall goals are defined. The project manager is identified and the team is assembled. In this stage, some organizations draft a mission statement just for the project.
The next phase is the planning phase. During this second phase, tasks are assigned and details are provided to describe each task. Project deliverables are also identified. In phase three, prototypes are developed, the project is tested, quality is reviewed, and production is initiated. This is called the execution phase. It is also referred to as the control or implementation phase.
The last phase of a project is closure. Reviews are held when the project is complete. During this last phase, one has the opportunity to review lessons learned and to archive data and records. Customer feedback is sought regarding the life cycle and delivery of the system. In this unit, you will learn that projects should follow a systematic approach with a defined beginning and ending.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.
Many businesses have struggled with organizing projects under a separate organizational system than their ongoing operations. Upon the chartering of a project, organizations must determine how their project will be implemented. In many cases, traditional organization designs fall short of providing the type of structure needed for successful project implementation. Thus, the manner in which a project is organized may change with each new charter through a temporary design project which fits the current project's needs.
There are various project management systems that provide the proper framework for implementing project activities within organizations. This unit will discuss how project managers can balance the needs of both the overall organization and the project by utilizing effective design techniques.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 15 hours.
Project initiation is the most critical phase in the project life cycle, as it is the first phase of the overall initiative. During this phase, the scope is defined and the team and other resources are positioned. The organization defines the objectives, purpose, and mission of the project as well as determines the deliverables and expected outcomes. The project manager is responsible for creating the baseline project plan. In this unit, you will learn about the project charter and the various frameworks and tools that can be utilized in this phase to create the proper foundation for project success.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.
Execution involves building the deliverables and controlling the project scope and costs. Risks must also be managed during this phase. Control mechanisms should be in place to control issues and problems as well as to ensure quality. Once the project initiation and planning is complete, the execution phase begins. Ideally the project plan has been approved and base-lined so that the actual work can start.
This phase includes the coordination of resources to perform the activities outlined in the plan. The project manager must unify all associated areas of the project and engage all stakeholders, project staff, customers, and other resources to achieve a successful outcome. Report gathering is performed regularly during this phase to analyze ongoing status, task changes, and other variances to the plan. Administratively, the project manager must complete or coordinate all status reports to keep the organization abreast of project standing. The majority of the project's tasks are performed during this phase. In this unit, you will learn the core of project management through a review of the organizational techniques required to make sure deliverables are completed on time and on budget.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.
The final phase of the project life cycle is the implementation and closure phase. This includes winding down tasks, implementing the product or service to the client or internally within the organization, releasing staff and conducting a lessons-learned review. This phase is very crucial to preventing the project from moving beyond the original scope and budget as defined in the baseline project plan. There must be acceptance of the project deliverables and feedback must be sought regarding project performance. Evaluation reports must also be created and lessons-learned, or post-mortem meeting must be held to discuss project strengths and weaknesses. Outstanding contributors are also recognized during this phase and the achievements of the overall project team are celebrated.
This unit will review how to close down projects and use the insights gained to make improvements going forward; it will also discuss how to celebrate the team for peak-performance and how to seek and obtain customer feedback and acceptance.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.
After completing all six units for this project management course, you should be able to define the terms project and project management; explain the role of the project manager during the project life cycle; identify human resource skills for forming and developing teams; balance project time, budget, and resource constraints; and apply project management tools and techniques for managing a project. More specifically, you should be capable of explaining what 5 key project management process groups are and what 9 key project management knowledge areas are. You should also be able to discuss what makes a project successful and what risks projects may have during the whole project life cycle. In today's global world, you also should be able to explain main challenges of managing global projects.
If you plan on taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certificate Exam, this section includes an optional self-assessment test and study guide to help you prepare.