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

Why you should use a standard methodology for managing your projects?

A Methodology for Project Management is a strategy that increases the chances for project success; by giving a clear direction, it saves time and improves the quality of the deliverables. Most development project managers use a type of methodology that was either learned by years of experience or is part of the organization’s policies and methods for project management. A common benefit of a methodology is that that it helps manage projects by reducing risks which improve the chances of success of a project.

 
What is a Methodology?
A methodology is "a set of methods, processes, and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects". The key element is that by repeating the same actions on every project the organization will gain efficiencies in its approach.
 
What is a Standard?
A standard is defined as "a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry". Standards give guidance, whereas methodologies provide practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies and vice versa. The two most popular standards used in project management worldwide are the PMBOK® (from the Project management Institute) and Prince2® (a UK standard)

What are the components of a methodology?
A project methodology should contain:

  • A set of processes to manage projects.
  • A set of competencies to build the required skills.
  • A set of tools forms and templates to standardize information.

Why use a Methodology?
A methodology is not a magic wand that can be used to solve every problem in a project, but it helps by the use of a clear set of processes for managing projects that everyone in the organization understands. A good methodology, that is fit to the context and environment where an organization works, is able to provide clear guidance of the what, who, when and how a project should be done.  A methodology also provides a level of flexibility that can be adapted to the special conditions of every project. For instance, for smaller projects, the organization can choose to apply a light version of the management processes. And when managing large projects, it can apply the full processes required to monitor every element of the project in enough detail to reduce risks. Organizations that can manage every project, in the same way, will be able to gain efficiencies; project staff will be able to work smarter and reduce waste. A methodology gives every project team a clear understanding of what is expected from them which in turn increases the chances of success.

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Definitions of Project and Project Management

b2ap3_thumbnail_definitions.pngWhat 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.

 

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