Project Management & Why it is Important

by Nabil Zawadi @ GLG Group

Project management has always been present in civilisation in one form or another; it is a naturally occurring aspect of any large undertaking dating back to the construction of historical monuments and architecture. Only relatively recently has it been unified and recognised as a standalone discipline and has since gone on to be considered an important necessity in every organisation, and has been steadily increasing in popularity due to the forming and maturing of management methodologies. There are a number of internationally recognised methodologies that can be used to manage projects, each with their own approach and terminologies. The standard methodologies follow similar steps called the project lifecycle. These are:

  • Discovery Phase – This is the phase where all aspects of the project are defined. The end-goals, what needs to be done, why and when.
  • Planning Phase – This is where the tasks, deliverables and milestones (important dates and tasks to be completed) are mapped out, scheduled and assigned to resources (team members)
  • Development Phase – This phase is where the tasks of the project will be carried out.
  • Monitoring Phase – As the project is in development it will be monitored to ensure that it is progressing smoothly.
  • Closing Phase – This is when the project is being finalised and brought to a close, as well as being evaluated to determine its success.

Not all projects will have every stage, as some projects will be terminated before reaching completion for example. Some projects, usually small ones, do not follow a structured planning and/or monitoring process. And some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.

Each methodology may have their own terminology for these steps and other processes within them in order to differentiate from the subtle yet defining differences between them. Some of the popular methodologies are PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments), Waterfall, Agile software development and PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge).

The Numbers

An independent research company, Spikes Cavell, conducted a survey in the UK to identify the major causes of technology related project failures. Over 200 project managers were interviewed, all of which had taken the lead in integrating large systems within organisations in the Times Top 100. Here were some of their findings.

The main failure criteria identified were:

  • Bad Communications between relevant parties (57%)
  • Lack of planning (39%)
  • Inadequate quality control (35%)

The main success criteria identified were:

  • Meeting milestones (51%)
  • Maintaining the required quality levels (32%)
  • Meeting the budget (31%)

As per a survey done by KPMG involving 252 organisations, inadequate project management implementation constitutes 32% of project failures, lack of communication constitutes 20% and unfamiliarity with scope and complexity constitutes 17%. Accordingly, 69% of project failures are due to lack and/or improper implementation of project management methodologies.

As you can see, correct implementation of suitable project management processes in your business can help to greatly minimise the common causes for failed projects. Many methodologies have been specifically developed with this in mind such as the Agile software development methodology which focuses on short work iterations, adapting to changes in scope/requirements and frequent client communication to minimise off-spec development.

Conclusion

Project management is prevalent and widespread in all organisations, from the largest to the smallest start-ups. You may not even realise you’re using it! We have a natural way to plan and carry out our goals and project management methodologies seek to formalise this approach to reach the optimal way to achieve your goals. It has been tried and proven a crucial factor in delivering projects successfully, and if your organisation has not yet invested the time to incorporate a methodology into your working structure then you may find yourselves falling behind!

On a final note, it is important to remember that if you’re implementing a project management methodology into your organisation then you must take the time to identify which one is best suited to you. There are many different methodologies which benefit different types and sizes of projects so a bespoke solution tailored to your company’s needs is the ideal way.

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