PM4DEV Blog

Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

The Challenges of Development Projects

Development projects operate in challenging environments, where uncertainties about the future increase the risk to the project. Managers need to deal with extremely complex social, economic, and political factors that affect the delivery of goods and services. Development projects are implemented in some of the most remote and difficult locations in the world; additionally, projects operate in areas of high personal risk and high security threats to project staff. The lack of proper infrastructure, limited resources, and a changing environment put a strain on project managers who need to deliver the project outcomes. The constant changes in the social, economic, political, and natural environment; force many projects to change its original plans; in fact, project plans are built on many assumptions that eventually are challenged by the changes in the environment. Changes in the environment are not always reflected in the original design, which causes projects to miss significantly its ultimate objectives; this is why it is not uncommon to find a project that has delivered all its expected outputs but has failed significantly in reaching its objectives. From extensive observation and experimentation through working with development agencies for years, we have seen the following weaknesses in development projects:

  • Poor project planning
  • Inadequate management skills
  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of stakeholder involvement
  • Unrealistic plans
  • No measure to evaluate quality
  • Poor, inconsistent project management discipline
  • Duplication of efforts
  • Poor risk management strategies
  • Unmotivated project staff

Development organizations can benefit from a standardized and flexible approach to deliver their projects not only on time and within budget, but in the quality expectations of the stakeholders. Project management processes and techniques are used to coordinate resources to achieve predictable results. The value proposition for project management results by implementing a common set of project management processes, competencies and tools. The value of project management to a development organization includes:

  • Better expectation-setting through up-front estimating, planning, and project definition.
  • Faster execution through the reuse of common processes and templates.
  • Fewer project problems encountered when utilizing proactive project management processes.
  • Better organizational decision-making through more effective project communication.
  • Higher donor/beneficiary satisfaction and less rework by delivering a higher quality outputs the first time.

Project management provides a proven methodology to accurately and efficiently complete projects of any size and complexity. The detailed planning provides a realistic plan that helps manage risks before they occur and reduce costly changes late in the project. Benefits occur only when organizations consistently apply standard methodologies and principles on all projects.

Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course, Adaptive Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs. Register now and obtain a 20% discount with the promo code 20APM. Click on the link to find out more about this course. https://www.pm4dev.com/elearn/ecourses/eapm.html  

 

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Definitions of Project and Project Management

What is a project?

There are many definitions for what constitutes a project; some of these definitions describe the nature of a project and how it differs from other type of work, the descriptions used to define a project include the following:

  • A temporary process, which has a clearly defined start and end time, a set of tasks, and a budget, that is developed to accomplish a well-defined goal or objective.
  • A temporary effort of sequential activities designed to accomplish a unique purpose
  • A group of inter-related activities, constrained by time, cost, and scope, designed to deliver a unique purpose
  • An undertaking that encompasses a set of tasks or activities having a definable starting point and well defined objectives.
  • A clear set of activities with related inputs and outputs aimed to achieve objectives and goals linked to anticipated (desired) effects and impacts in a target population

From all these descriptions, one can see that there are some specific attributes that define a project and separate it from most ordinary work:

  • A project has a beginning and an end.
  • A project has limited resources
  • A project follows a planned, organized method to meet its objectives with specific goals of quality and performance.
  • Every project is unique

What is  project management?

Here are some of the standard definitions of project management:

  • According to “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMI, Third Edition”, “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project”.
  • The ISO 10006, a standard for quality in project management defines it as; “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”.
  • PRINCE2, the UK standard for project management, has this definition: “a temporary organization that is needed to produce a unique and predefined outcome or result at a pre-specified time using predetermined resources”. I
  • PMA, the International Project Management Association, defines a project as “a time and cost constrained operation to realize a set of defined deliverables up to quality standards and requirements”.

In other words, project management is the planning, implementing, and monitoring of project activities to meet project objectives, achieved by effectively controlling and balancing the constraint of time, cost, and scope in producing quality deliverables that meet or exceed the expectations of the project stakeholders.

Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course, Fundamentals of Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs. Register now and obtain a 20% discount with the promo code 20FPM. Click on the link to find out more about this course. https://www.pm4dev.com/elearn/ecourses/efpm.html  

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