Project management is the act of applying expert knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities within an organization or business to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations.
Project Management Risk Factors
Organizations will face increased risks when project management is not implemented or incorrectly carried out. And failure to address project management risk can have serious ramifications for a business or an organization. For example:
- The project may fail because of insufficient management and/or stakeholder sponsorship or support.
- Projects may incur risks that increase exponentially with project size.
- Lack of sponsorship from leadership places the project at risk.
- Unsatisfactory project metrics and management of results may cause projects to deviate from their intended course.
The project may fail because the staff allocated to the project does not have the required expertise in the key project domains. Or they may lack the empowerment to make timely business decisions for their user communities. Risk indicators of a potential project failure include the following:
- There is insufficient experience in specific systems and/or technologies.
- There is insufficient staffing to support the team.
- The roles and responsibilities of the project teams are not clearly defined.
- The project team has not been provided with the appropriate training.
- The working environment lacks a collaborative spirit and fails to encourage continual communication between team members and business units.
Projects require management and stakeholder support. A project management strategy must be fully developed. Here are examples of signs indicating that support is lacking:
- There is no established steering or executive committee.
- There is no developed project charter, or it has not been agreed upon by all parties involved.
- There is no executive and stakeholder buy-in obtained.
The project team may not be fully aware of the requirements of the system(s) that they are delivering. Risks include the following:
- Team members are unaware of how the system must support operational requirements.
- Team members do not clearly comprehend interfaces and user requirements.
There must be developed and actively utilized project management metrics and tools. Without them, the following indicators may be evident:
- There is a lack of realistic milestones and milestone decision points with exit criteria.
- Cost, schedules and performance are not continuously compared to the initial baseline.
- Performance metrics with threshold and objective criteria are not established.
Project standards are defined as the standards used to manage a project. To expand upon that definition, consider the following checklist:
- Information on quality
- Defining a project
- Project management tools
- Project roles and responsibilities
- Customer responsibilities
- Project levels and complexities
- Project governance
- Project documentation
- Project communication (internal and external)
- Vendor management
- Risk management
The Project Management Office
Most organizations have multiple projects taking place simultaneously and oftentimes in different phases. And the number of projects an organization tends to increase with the size and complexity of the business.
An effective way to handle multiple projects is with a project management office (PMO). A PMO is an effective project management solution created to establish a more centralized management structure for large groups of projects. The PMO provides organizations with an infrastructure of people, procedures and tools to achieve effective project management by leveraging project management standards, allocating resources, establishing consistent performance measures and reducing the duplication of efforts.
The Project Management Charter
A project charter is a formal document, typically short in length that states a project exists and provides project managers with written authority to begin work. The document describes a project to create a shared understanding of its goals, objectives and resource requirements prior to the project being scoped out in detail.
To develop a charter, start with a charter template. A template can serve as a guide for creating an organization's project management charter. The template should provide objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound and concrete for achieving the goal. It should accomplish the following:
- Document what will and will not be delivered as part of this project
- Schedules that include project start and end dates, milestones and/or phases
- A good-faith estimate of the total expected project costs
- A high-level statement that provides the overall context for what the project is trying to accomplish
- Project management implementation
While the outset of implementing project management policies and procedures may seem daunting, the upside is that the process of implementing new applications or systems oftentimes turns project managers into experts. As such, project management makes for a more effective operation within businesses and organizations. And even if an organization has a successful project management process in place, it is advisable for its management and employees to stay abreast of new methodologies, technologies, systems and processes and to stay as current as possible.
Surely there has been an abundance of published materials about project management; however, much of its contents have changed as economies, technology and the environment have changed. Thus, much of the information accessible is outdated.
As an example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant influence on how and where people work and interact and how teams collaborate efforts, thus altering several of the features of project management in terms of design and implementation. Technology, too, plays a big part.
Today there are several applications, tools and technologies a business or organization can utilize to assist in facilitating project management, which were not yet around only a few years ago, helping to minimize or even eliminate paperwork and some of the more administrative efforts around scheduling, planning and follow-up.
Some organizations outsource project management efforts to a consultant or expert in the field, but outsourcing may not be within everyone’s budget. Others may prefer to keep project management in-house for greater control.
So how does one know if the data, information and technology on project management that a company has researched or is utilizing is outdated or if there is a better, more efficient, or affordable tool or technology available? This is where KnowledgeLeader comes in.
Project Management Tools on KnowledgeLeader
Your organization may benefit from the creation of a project management governance committee. The objective of our Project Management Office Governance Guide is to:
- Enable successful implementation and ensure alignment with key strategic initiatives.
- Improve the management of program issues and decisions through effective and timely decision-making and use a structured escalation process.
- Provide clear communications to internal and external stakeholders.
- Recognize and manage interdependencies across initiatives and ensure alignment with other corporate executive committees.
This document provides a guide to further understanding and standardizing the objectives, structure and operating principles of a PMO governance committee.
Our Project Management Office Guide document contains two guides that provide a detailed examination of the following: benefits of a PMO, key elements of an effective PMO, basic PMO processes, PMO methodologies, skills of a successful project manager, key performance indicators (KPIs) for the PMO and PMO best practices.
Our Project Management Office Questionnaire provides questions to consider when evaluating your project management office (PMO) functionality and processes. It includes such questions as:
- What is your overall satisfaction with the PMO?
- How are you made aware of changes to the PMO process and requirements?
- What areas do you feel the PMO could improve?
- What are the top three challenges you face with implementing new projects?
- Have any aspects of the project’s lifecycle become more challenging under the PMO?
- What aspects of the project’s lifecycle have been improved by the PMO?
- Has the PMO pushed the initiative for early identification of project issues and risks?
The Project Risk Management Audit Program provides guidance and direction for executing audits of projects and/or program management office activities.
This work program is intended to provide the audit team with an overview of some basic background and concepts associated with projects and programs and the dependencies/relationships between them. Included is a menu of options from which to choose controls and work steps based on the scope and risk of a particular audit. The content of the work program should be customized and/or expanded to directly align with the objectives of the audit.
Methodologies and Models
Our Capital Project Management Capability Maturity Model (CMM) can be used to measure the maturity of your organization’s capital project management process and to assist its progress from the initial/ad-hoc state toward the optimized state. The model describes a maturity curve on these capability levels: initial, repeatable, defined, managed and optimized.
In this sample, an optimized organization utilizes strategic project management for all projects; has fully integrated policies and responsibilities; and has a capital project management framework that is aligned with the organization's strategic plans, well-documented and communicated to related personnel. The model is a framework that describes an improvement path from an ad-hoc, immature process to a mature, disciplined process focused on continuous improvement.