Project management is the cycle of defining, initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team team to achieve specific goals and meet project criteria. The temporary nature of project works is a contrast from everyday “business as usual” type operations. As such, the management of these two operations is very different, and project management requires the use of a unique skill set to ensure project expectations, objectives, and predicted costs are met. The primary project constraints are scope, time, quality, and budget. Overall project performance is evaluated based on:
Evaluation of Cost, Schedule, Performance, and Risk
Planning for project costs is often a challenging aspect of project management, but is a critical step in budgeting for the overall costs of a project. Estimating total project costs often becomes difficult due to the many unforeseen circumstances that will be encountered during project execution. In addition, other factors such as cost inflation, inaccurate estimating practices, short term price fluctuations, etc., make cost planning a difficult process. Because of this, it is crucial that project managers obtain quotes for each potential purchase and factor in projected inflation or obtain necessary contracts to ensure rates. As invoices come in during the project life-cycle, the invoices will have to be compared to original estimates to determine the financial performance of the project.
Similarly, a project schedule will need to be developed which estimates a timeline for project completion. The project timeline will define the various aspects of the project which must be completed, estimate the amount of time required to complete the objective, and determine where in the project timeline each objective will reside. Each deliverable, or tangible work product, must be defined in the project scope.
Project performance is generally determined in terms of quality or work product. How overall quality of work product is defined will vary greatly from one project to the next. Take two construction projects as an example: The first project is the construction of a new hospital and the second project is the construction of a high-end hotel. In the case of the hospital, ultimately the staff’s ability to provide care to patients will determine the quality of the project. This would include work flow within the hospital, storage space and it’s proximity to patients, etc. On the other hand, the high-end hotel may be more concerned about fit and finish, exterior and interior decorating and presentation, etc. QA / QC objectives can be pre-determined by the project team to ensure the final quality of a project meets expectations.
Planning for project risk is a complex topic, many aspects of which are covered throughout this guide and through many other industry publications. A short summary for purposes of the exam is presented here, but most topics within this text are applicable to risk planning and management.
Overall project risks must be identified and controlled early in the project planning phase through the use of a project risk assessment, often used in combination with other risk assessment documents as defined by the scope of the project. Risks can be mitigated through the use of the risk assessment and throughout the project life cycle during the execution phase. Impacts to the project can be estimated during project planning. This is generally accomplished by a careful evaluation of the man hours a project will consume and by evaluating industries active within a project and their relative risks levels.
A GANTT chart is a type of bar chart, created by Henry Gantt in the 1910s, that illustrates a project schedule. Gantt charts are now regarded as a common technique in any project management workflow, but at their time they were considered revolutionary.
Tasks required to complete a project are listed from top to bottom on the left-hand side of the Gantt chart in sequential order. The bars within a Gantt chart reference the time allotted to achieve an objective. Terminal and summary elements are often broken down in the chart and some reference to elements dependency on one another may be referenced in the chart also . These references allow us to easily identify which tasks must be completed prior to starting the next task and which tasks can be completed concurrently (overlapping).
Here’s an example of a typical Gantt chart: