What are the pillars of Project Management

What are the pillars of Project Management

What is project management and why is it important?

Project Management is one of the most important activities for a company. It includes planning and organizing the activities, as well as decisions relating to the time, money and people required to achieve goals and maximize benefit.

What is Project Management? It is the set of a company’s back office and front office activities carried out by one or more specialized figures. The Project Manager’s job is to analyze, design, plan and implement the objectives of a project, managing all its characteristics and phases. According to the well-known international guide Project Management Body of Knowledge, Project Management is the application of knowledge, attitudes, tools and techniques to the activities of a project in order to achieve its objectives.

Even Gaius Julius Caesar, a Roman general, politician and writer of the 1st century BC, talked about PM in paragraphs XVII, XVIII and XIX of his famous work De bello Gallico. The author described the technical and organizational details (including timing, objectives, materials and resource management) of the construction of a bridge over the Rhine during the 5th Gallic battle. The text contains what are still common elements of a modern project plan.

Today, Project Management is a discipline applicable to various sectors including construction, industrial engineering, armed forces and software development.

One of the most important contributions to the discipline came from Henry Laurance Gantt. He was an American engineer who in the early 20 century introduced a planning technique that bears his name. This technique, the Gantt chart, is still an essential part of Project Management activities.

Subsequently, the work of Gantt was the basis for the development of other fundamental concepts still widely used in project management. For example, that of resource allocation or that of work breakdown structure (WBS) to represent the structure of activities in a project.

What is a project?

All projects are unique. However, they always have a start and an end, a team, a budget, a program and a set of expectations that the work team must meet.

According to the Project Management Institute, world leader in project management, a project is a temporary initiative (for example, developing a new website or building a house), with a well-defined start and end, and involves a series of activities that can have a single objective or many parallel or different objectives.

The objectives of a project define the results to be achieved. In the planning activity, the Project Manager must ensure that they meet the requirements indicated by the SMART acronym:

  • Specific: the objectives must be well defined and understandable;
  • Measurable: progress can be tracked;
  • Attainable: the objectives must be achievable for the people involved and compatible with the available resources;
  • Relevant: they must be aligned with the organization;
  • Time-bound: they must be achievable by a certain date.

Who is the Project Manager?

For the Project Management Institute, the Project Manager is the one who generates change, who takes charge of the project objectives and uses skills and competences to spread the idea of ​​a shared purpose within the project team.

The project manager is a passionate and goal-oriented professional who loves new challenges, works well under pressure, is comfortable with change, complexity and dynamic environments. Plus, he can easily go from the big picture to the small but crucial details, knowing how and when to focus on them.

The digital transformation has turned the spotlight on the figure of the Project Manager. This is a profession that is increasingly in demand in all types of organizations and companies. A Project Manager must have excellent organizational and methodological skills, communication skills, problem solving skills and strong leadership.

The tasks that a project manager must perform are divided into two areas:

  • Operational area: it concerns the methodologies, tools and working techniques to achieve the objectives of the project (hard skills);
  • Relational area: it concerns interpersonal and communication dynamics (soft skills or interpersonal skills).

Here are the main responsibilities of a Project Manager:

  • Detailed planning and programming;
  • Efficient and effective organization of human resources;
  • Encourage communication and harmony of the project team;
  • Distribution of resources to the activities and monitoring of the performance;
  • Periodic checks, reporting to the steering committee the progress of the work and the final estimates, anticipating any needs for particular interventions or contractual revisions;
  • Participation in the steering committee and implementation of decisions;
  • Initiatives to prevent risks;
  • Management of contacts with contacts and end users by involving them in activities;
  • Production of personal documentation and supervision of that produced by the project team;
  • Control of the quality of deliverables and of the quality standards compliance;
  • Accounting of resources on behalf of the company to which they belong (the supplier);
  • Summary activity at the end of the project;
  • Attention to the improvement of the production processes of the project.

The different types of Project Management activities

Project Management is an essential component of any business development initiative. As already mentioned, it is divided into different types of activities:

  • Analysis and definition of objectives;
  • Work planning according to the objectives;
  • Risk identification and control (Risk Management);
  • Evaluation and planning of the necessary resources;
  • Allocation/disallocation of resources;
  • Organization of work and processes;
  • Acquisition of human and material resources;
  • Task assignment;
  • Direction and coordination of activities;
  • Progress measurement;
  • Analysis of the results based on the facts and information collected;
  • Definition and control of any corrective actions and realignment of the project;
  • New previsions of times, costs and other indicators of the project;
  • Quality management;
  • Problem management and problem solving;
  • Quality assurance including the reduction of non-conformities;
  • Identification, management and control of changes in purpose (Change Request or Change Control);
  • Closing the project;
  • Management of acceptance of results;
  • Notification of results to clients.

In addition, there are other activities that depend on soft skills. They are less technical and more oriented to the team motivation and interpersonal relationships.

What are the strengths of Project Management?

There are three pillars of Project Management:

  • People. They are at the heart of effective project management. Each person on the team must have a well-defined role and responsibility in order to achieve the objectives and complete the project;
  • Processes. According to the Project Management Institute, there are five groups of processes in a project:
  1. Preparation and start-up of the project (start-up processes);
  2. Planning and design (planning processes);
  3. Execution or production (execution processes);
  4. Monitoring and control;
  5. Completion and dissemination of results (closure processes).
  1. Knowledge-based systems: they understand the context of the data, helping human learning and decision-making;
  2. Machine learning: it analyzes data to build models by detecting patterns. It improves decision making with minimal human intervention;
  3. Decision Management: it creates a smart process or a set of processes based on rules and logic to automate decision making;
  4. Expert systems: they emulate and imitate human intelligence, skills or behavior regarding a specific field, topic or skill;
  5. Deep Learning: it builds, trains and tests neural networks that predict results and / or classify unstructured data on the basis of probability;
  6. Robotic Process Automation: It mimics and automates human tasks to support business processes.
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