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Achieving Results: A Call for Project Management Published: Sunday, February 15, 1998 By: Ramón L. Rivera

As our team helps hundreds of organizations deal more systematically with the challenges of performance, solutions are becoming more holistic and complex. Complete solutions require a greater number of participants or experts to implement them, which most of the time means putting together a Performance Improvement Project Team. If the team is to stay on the most direct route to its destination, they need a common understanding of what the terrain will look like when they get involved in projects and project management.

A project is a series of organized activities and tasks that: creates a unique product, service, process or plan; have a specific objective to be completed within certain specifications; have defined start and end dates; have funding specifications; consumes resources (i.e., money people, equipment)

It can be as simple as the design of a recognition system or as complex as the construction of a new manufacturing plant with a team size ranging from a few people to hundreds who are working in one location or across continents. In any case, projects bring together people from a range of jobs and provide for collaboration in unique ways. In order for a continuous stream of successful projects to occur, there must exist a shared understanding of the Project Management process as well as a strong and visible corporate commitment to it.

What is Project Management? We define project Management as " a set of principles, methods, tools, and techniques for the effective management of achieving objective-oriented work ". The process encompasses the following tasks: creating a clear definition for the end result of the project; obtaining and utilizing sponsorship; defining and managing the environment in which the project will run; planning the project; managing the inevitable problems that occur during the project`s life; controlling the undertaking so that it is completed on schedule and within budget; keeping the customers informed; concluding and evaluating the project.

The applicability of project management has widened to include projects of a broad range, from simple to very complex and from manufacturing to service, education, health, insurance, marketing, sales, distribution, banking and a host of other areas. While project managers have an important role to play in every case, all the members of a project team are expected to understand, participate in, and carry out a project by performing project management activities.

What are the benefits of quality project management? The benefits of professional project management can be summarized in increased team reliability and credibility. This is so because applying a professional project management approach accomplishes the following; estimates and manages time, increasing the probability of meeting deadlines; structures and controls resources to avoid delays; identifies tasks to be completed so that items or issues are not overlooked; identifies what personnel are necessary and when, avoiding excessive work loads for some individuals; identifies the cost of activities to ensure the project remains within budget; reconciles staffing conflicts with other assignments; manages changes to the scope of the project.

What are the critical roles? The beginning of the project management journey is led by the project sponsor. The sponsor is a liaison between management and the project team. His or her role is to initiate the project by creating the project team. This is the foundation of the team`s planning process. In addition, the sponsor ensures that the project is consistent with organizational objectives and helps overcome obstacles encountered during the project.

When the charter is complete, the project team takes the lead. A project leader facilitates the team process and acts as the liaison between the sponsor and the customer. Team members are expected to ensure that their part of the project work gets completed on time.

After having been involved with hundreds of project teams in different sorts of organizations, we have accumulated abundant evidence to support the claim that appreciation for project management is fundamental to effectively deploying and implementing strategies and actions and to increasing significantly the organization`s rate of improvement.

 


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