PMP® Prep – Fundamental Elements of Project Management

The art and science of Project Management is evolving day-by-day with ever increasing complexity of the projects and competitive Business environment. The biggest gain one can have while preparing for the PMP® exam is to be able to apply the learning to your work and to be able to take better decisions.

As some wise men say, having a strong foundation is the most important step towards building the strongest and tallest of the buildings. Similarly, before diving deeper into the domain of project management, it is important to understand fundamental elements of Project Management. In this blog, we will take you through the Basics of Project Management.

Note: Developing good understanding of Project Management fundamentals (or Framework) will help you answer up to 5 questions correctly in the exam. 

What is a Project?

PMI defines a Project as, “A Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create unique product, service or result”.

Another definition of Project goes like this; “A Project is a collection of linked activities carried out in an organized manner with clearly defined start & finish points to achieve specific results.” Building a tree house is a project, so is putting a man on the moon. From the simplest of tasks to most complex business ventures, examples of projects are everywhere.

Let’s decode the important characteristics of a Project:

# It is Temporary…

Project is not a process. It is never ongoing and it always has a definite start and finish.

A project is considered to be ended, if any of these conditions is met:

  • Project objective is met (desired Product or service is created).
  • It becomes clear that the project objectives cannot be met and stakeholders decide to discontinue the project.
  • The need for the project no more exists.

# Creates a Unique deliverable…

A project always creates a Measurable unique deliverable which has never been created in the past in the exact same manner. These deliverables’ can be tangible or intangible and be in the form of Products, Services, results or a combination of all the three.

With increasing impetus for adapting agile methodologies, another important aspect of projects comes into foray.

# Progressive Elaboration…

A project revels itself more and more as it progresses. Based on the deliverable requirement and organization types, projects start with varying levels of early planning of scope, schedule and cost. There is always new information flowing in as the project progresses and the Project manager needs to keep making decisions to keep the project on track.

An important thing to note about projects is that projects might be temporary, but their deliverables might exist beyond the end of project. For example, a building or a power plant created as a result of construction project will exist even when the project is officially closed.

Why are Projects undertaken?

Projects drive positive change in the organization. They are undertaken to create business value and attain specific objective usually targeted towards creating or improving products or services. Projects are undertaken due to following four major reasons.

Why Project Management is important?

PMBOK® defines Project Management as application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Various subject matter experts call Project Management both a science as well as an art. A science, since it encompasses a systematic process of managing work efficiently and effectively to deliver expected results. And art, because it relies heavily on the skills of the Project Manager on how well he (or she) uses it to attain project objectives.

Effective Project Management is accomplished through the application and integration of project management processes – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. It ensures that organizations are staying focused and utilizing their resources on most important work. Tailoring the project management knowledge to specific project needs helps delivering projects in the most cost and time efficient manner without compromising on scope & quality.

Inefficient management of projects or absence of project management would lead to following:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Missed targets
  • Cost overruns
  • Rework and rejections
  • Poor quality
  • Loss of reputation
  • Employee dissatisfaction

In today’s competitive and dynamic business environment, Projects hold a key to value creation and benefits realization. At the same time, the art aspect of Project Management highlights the importance of Project Manager’s role towards organization’s success. It requires a Project Manager to use his skills like leadership, influencing, Organizing and strategizing to deliver Project success by deftly managing scarce resources, shorter timelines, tighter budgets and heightened customer expectations.

In the next blog of the series, we will discuss about the Project Governance and the relationship between Project, Program, Portfolio and Operations management.

Happy Learning!

Read further: PMP® Prep: Project Governance and the relationship between Project, Program, and Portfolio management

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