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

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.

 

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Who is Responsible for Project Quality?

In general, the project manager has overall responsibility for the quality management process. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

Even if the project has specific people with responsibilities for quality, project quality is not the responsibility of one or two people. It is everyone's responsibility. All the team members, including the stakeholders, have a role in ensuring that the deliverables produced are of high quality. Everyone is also responsible for surfacing ideas for improvement to the processes used to create the project deliverables. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

  • The project manager– Responsible for developing the quality management process and for ensuring that all the goods and services are delivered as they were designed.
  • Team members- Responsible for quality assurance and quality control for each of the tasks and activities they are assigned to complete. They are also responsible for ensuring all the quality standards are followed as designed.
  • The Organization- Responsible for standardizing quality controls and standards across all projects, responsible for ensuring all staff have the skills to deliver quality products and services.
  • Stakeholders– Responsible for communicating their expectations of quality product and services to the project and the organization, and responsible for accepting and approving the delivery of all goods and services

 

Quality is Not an Event

For Quality management to be effective, the team needs to adopt a continuous quality mindset. Team members need to take ownership of the deliverables they produce and ensure that all project deliverables are developed with quality when they are first created.  Team members must realize that a quality process allows the entire project team to produce quality deliverables, with a minimal amount of errors and rework.

Project quality starts with planning, but the implementation of quality must be carried out throughout the project. A holistic  approach to quality will include the following items.

  • Quality Definition, determining the quality standards for the project.
  • Quality Assurance, ensuring that quality is built into every element of the project.
  • Quality Control, monitoring and auditing quality.
  • Quality Improvements, making improvements to the project that will increase quality levels.

The project manager leads the quality management process from start to end and ensures that all parties involved have a good understand of the quality standards that will be used in the project. All quality management processes should be agreed and communicated to all participants.

An important strategy for quality management is to develop and foster a quality culture, by encouraging the belief that the right level of quality is more important than delivering the project under cost and under schedule. Everyone that participates in the project has a role to play in delivering quality results.

 
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