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

General Management

The Project Management Cycle

A project management methodology follows a cyclical approach throughout the life of the project. The cycle represents a continuous process in which each phase provides the foundation for the next. For example, during implementation the monitoring phase provides inputs and changes to the original design which then the project managers uses to modify the implementation plans. The cyclic nature among the design, implement and monitor phases is repeated throughout the life of the project.

The project management cycle cosists of six phases:

1.       Initiate

2.       Plan

3.       Implement

4.       Monitor

5.       Adapt

6.       Close

The cycle allows for a constant, iterative process by which the project is constantly adapted, this repetitive cycle continues until all project activities and objectives have been delivered. The cycle approach allows opportunities to review the original project assumptions and plans, as the project makes progress the initial conditions could have changed making necessary for the project to change course or readjust the original plans.

Managing a project is not a linear process, it is cyclical; with each phase receiving feedback from the preceding phase. For example, during the monitoring phase the project may encounter that the original assumptions about an  activity have changed which leads to propose a readjustment of the plans, either in schedule or in scope. No situation in which a project intervenes is static, project management is a cycle that is continually repeated to adapt to a changing context.

The project management cycle continues in a spiral fashion until the project is completed and closed. For larger projects the phases may be broken down in smaller manageable phase, each with its own project management cycle, were the closure on the first phase of a project leads to the initiation of the second phase.

The application of project management is an iterative process. For example, within the planning phase, several iterations of planning may occur as the team develops the best approach and methodologies to implement the project. This process requires additional improvements and refinements to the schedule, budget estimates, quality requirements and risk plans.

As improvements start to occur, the impact to other project management areas must be determined. Over time, the iterations should become smaller in magnitude and more defined as more detailed information about the project is developed. Each project’s management cycle is a knowledge cycle in itself that shapes the initial design and is fed by experience from each implementation and evaluation cycle.


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What is Process Management?


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Using process is a method to manage the project by breaking it down into its key elements. Process management allows for a structured and systematic approach to plan, execute, control and adapt all project work.

A process is after all a set of actions or activities that must be performed in order to achieve results. For example managing information in a project can be seen as a process; and in that process we will identify all the activities, roles, responsibilities and technique required to achieve a result.

Before the project execution starts, the project manager must ensure that the work is defined in terms of the overall objectives, deliverables, scope, assumptions, risks, organization, etc.; and that a schedule is prepared that shows how the project team will deliver all the work. Once the project starts, the project manager must successfully manage and control the work, including:

  • Identifying, tracking, managing and resolving project issues.
  • Proactively disseminating project information to all stakeholders.
  • Identifying, managing and mitigating project risk.
  • Ensuring that the solution is of acceptable quality.
  • Proactively managing scope to ensure that only what was agreed to is delivered.
  • Defining and collecting metrics to give a sense of how the project is progressing.
  • Managing the overall project plan to ensure that all work is assigned and completed on time and within budget.

Managing all this work can be daunting, but the use of process helps the project manager be more effective. By creating a method that can describe the steps to plan, act, do and check the project work, the project manager is able to  ensure the project is successful in delivering its intended result. A process is a systematic method that creates a constant, repeatable and even predictable result. But what is more important is that process management  makes project work be more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.

To manage the project management processes, a project manager should be well organized, have great follow-up skills, be process oriented, be able to multi-task, have a logical thought process, be able to determine the root causes to problems, and have good analytical skills. 

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”   W. Edwards Deming

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