Project Management - Definition and Important Concepts

Project Management is the art of managing all the aspects of a project from inception to closure using a scientific and structured methodology. The term project may be used to define any endeavor that is temporary in nature and with a beginning or an end. The project must create something unique whether it is a product, service or result and must be progressively elaborated. As the definition implies, not every task can be considered a project. It would be worthwhile to keep this definition in mind when categorizing projects and studying their role in the success of the organization. With the above definition of the project, one gets a clear idea on what a project is.

Program Management is defined as a department that centralizes the management of projects. What this means is that the PMO or the Project Management Office is a repository of all the projects that are being executed in an organization. Program Management serves the CIO (Chief Information Officer) by providing him or her with regular status updates regarding the progress of all the projects in the company.

The PMO’s role is to ensure that the projects are financially viable and to raise an alert whenever there is a possibility or occurrence of a cost overrun. The PMO also keeps tab on the billing and other details that are concerned with the project. Thus, the PMO’s function is to oversee the projects coming under its domain and act as a kind of monitoring agency for them. In the current scenario, there is a need for visionary leadership by the CIO’s in addition to the technical leadership.

Technical leadership is the ability to spot trends in the technical space and leverage them for the success of the project. This involves choosing the right technology and being able to stay ahead of the curve with respect to new technologies. On the other hand, program visionary leadership is needed to control costs and effectively manage productivity increases and tighter integration of processes. This is relevant in the context of the ongoing economic crisis where the accent is on cutting costs and improving the bottom line.

The role of a project manager is akin to that of a conductor in a symphony. Individually each of the artists knows what has to be done for his or her role. But, there needs to be a person who has the overall “big picture” or the collective vision to make the performance a success. Similarly, the project manager drives the entire project team in pursuit of common goals.

The Project Manager’s role is to ensure that the overall objectives of the project are achieved with the participation of each individual member. The project manager is like the Prima Donna and his or her acumen depends on how well he or she can leverage the strengths of the individual members while minimizing the impact of their weaknesses. Program managers take the same view but at a much higher level. Their job is on the overall bottom line for the division or the company and they drive the individual project managers. This is similar to that of a pyramid where the CIO or the program manager sits on the apex and the project manager at the next level, project leads further down and so on.

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Project Management