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Real World Project Management: An Introduction

Article Description

Everyone talks about project management, but what is it? Isn't project management just organization to get the work done? In this overview article, the first of an on-going series, project management expert Joseph Phillips delivers the big picture of project management.

Putting It All Together

Projects are short-term endeavors to create a unique product or service. Projects are out of the normal duties you do as part of your operations. Projects are constrained by time, cost, and scope—and other constraints such as regulations, resources, or even vendors.

The Iron Triangle of project management posits that all projects are constrained by time, cost, and scope. If one angle of the project is out of whack, the whole project suffers.

Projects (and, technically, even project phases) move through five process groups: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. Each process group has key activities that lend to a successful project. I believe the most important group is planning. Without planning, the project is destined for failure.

What we discussed in this intro to project management is a good foundation for the way projects are to operate, project constraints, and some challenges every project manager faces. On top of this strong foundation, there are nine knowledge areas that also affect a project's success:

  • Project Scope Management

  • Project Time Management

  • Project Cost Management

  • Project Quality Management

  • Human Resources Management

  • Communications Management

  • Project Risk Management

  • Project Procurement Management

  • Project Integration Management

For each of these knowledge areas, I've written an article explaining its characteristics and how it contributes to your projects.

For now, know this: Projects are successful based on the ability of the project manager to lead, manage, and motivate the project team to complete the project plan. The project plan supports the vision that the project manager has inherited from the project stakeholders. If the project manager and the project stakeholder don't have the same vision of the desired future state, the project is doomed.

Projects fail at the beginning, not the end.