My Project Management Expert

What is a Project?

There are a number of ways a project can be defined. According to Prince 2 methodology it can be defined as either:

"A management environment that created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified Business Case"

or

"A temporary organisation that is needed to produce a unique and predefined outcome or result at a prespecified time using predetermined resources".

If you're thinking that Prince 2 tends to have an extremely complicated way of explaining things which are really quite simple then don't worry because you would not be alone!

A rather simpler definition is:

"A project is a sequence of unique and connected tasks which together lead to one end deliverable which must be completed according to requirements, within budget and to time'.

Notes

Sequence of Tasks

A project comprised a number of tasks which should be completed in a certain order. How this sequencing is determined depends on what works best for you, and also by the way the corporate you are delivering the project for operates. I tend to base it, at least initially on technical issues, but I know of numerous project managers who work out a plan of tasks based on management constraints or project management best practice requirements. And of course resources constraints will have an absolutely vital part to play in any plan you devise, but I always find you should prepare a plan based on what order I would like to see tasks delivered, and then let the PMO or management explain why it cannot be done in that way due to resource etc constraints.

Please note that following this strategy not only makes you look organised and in control, but also covers you if later on during delivery things go horribly wrong. You can always point to your original plan and explain that you were unable to deliver tasks in the way you deemed to be most appropriate.

What are Tasks?

The tasks are usually what you determine are required to deliver the project and should be detailed in the project plan you create. They can cover anything from writing requirements to managing the project through to sign off of documents. You can make a plan as detailed or as high level as you want. I find at this initial stage that a high level plan with key milestones and tasks is more than sufficient as it sets the expectations for what you are delivering without too much detail being required.

Also please note that depending on how strict the PMO are, if you have an extremely detailed 4,000 line plan, they will expect it kept up to date which is an enormous overhead on you. Far better to keep it simple unless otherwise required.

The End Deliverable

The end deliverable should be detailed in the Project Initiation Document or PID. Please note that projects should have only one end deliverable as against Programs which, because they will cover several projects, will have many end goals.

In a nutshell your task as a Project Manager is to take often vague requirements and fluctuating resources and somehow deliver what is required, whilst ensuring everyone is happy. This is often, depending on the area you work in, an extremely tall order, but with the straight talking and common sense approach used in this website, you will be able to achieve just this.

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