Project Management Foundation

Topic: Project Management


Pick up any newspaper, and you will find numerous examples of projects spread throughout the paper.

  • Right on the front page, you may find that a new metro railway station is being built at a particular location in the city, to cater to the demand of faster and comfortable travel within the city.
  • On the third page, you might see a picture of a megastar promoting a pulse polio campaign.
  • On the sixth page, you may see a picture of a minister inaugurating a new flyover to ease the traffic congestion at a busy road junction.
  • Somewhere in the business news, you may find that a company has announced a new budget car to provide the service, to a specific segment of customers.
  • Another news section may show a mega retail chain inaugurating a new store somewhere nearby.
  • Yet another business news section may show yet another business tycoon planning to build a new oil and gas refinery or a new cement plant.

Apart from these, you may also find that:

  • In your own institute, an entirely new lab has been set up for students to be able to work on Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence subject.
  • A student is working on a Capstone project to implement the concepts he/she has learnt during the entire course.

Each of the aforementioned points is, in fact, a project.

So, what is basically a project? What is project management? What makes projects so different from day-to day operational activities? What skills does the project manager need to have in order to manage the project successfully

In this chapter, you will find their answers, as well as other fundamental concepts of project management. You will also understand the different constraints involved in a project, project lifecycle and stage gate process. Further, you will learn about the conflict resolution techniques used in the project management. Besides, you will get acquainted with the project management in various types of organizational structures. Finally, you will also be familiarized with the different knowledge areas as prescribed by Project Management Institute's PMBOK@ Guide framework.

Definition of Project

The word 'project' is derived from a Latin word 'projectum', which means 'before an action'. In simple words, a project refers to a plan before an action to be conducted. There are various definitions given to define a project. A few of these definitions are as follows:

According to Harrison, "Project is a non-routine, non-repetitive, one-off undertaking, with well-defined time, financial and technical performance goal.

According to the Encyclopedia of management, project is "an organized unit dedicated to the attainment of goal the successful completion of a development of the project on time, within budget, in conformance with pre-determined programme specifications". The most notable definition of project is provided by Project Management Institute (PMI c— ). According to PMI, "A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result'.

In the business context, a project refers to a set of activities performed by a team to create a certain product (or service or result). This is done by using organizational resources (such as human resources, material and equipment resources), within a fixed period and a fixed budget. Once the product (or service or result) is created, it is handed over to operations, to run and generate the value mostly, but not always, in the form of revenue. Thus, by undertaking a project, an organization fulfils its business objective. For example, the local authorities may decide to construct a flyover for reducing traffic. For making this bridge, various activities are involved, such as laying foundations, designing structures, and constructing pillars. The construction of this bridge, by performing a set of activities, is the project. You know that the objective of this bridge is purely to serve the people. That is the value being generated by this project. But, if the same bridge is constructed as a part of a sea-link, which people can use by paying toll, then it can be a profit-generating project.

Projects are integral to all types of organizations. They are undertaken to achieve business objectives. They are carried out by performing a set of interrelated tasks and utilizing resources efficiently. Most often, they are governed by a regulatory framework and involve lot of uncertainties that need to be managed.

Project Vs Operations

In the organizational context, the project is generally followed by operational activity, which materializes the benefits for which the project was undertaken.

Let's understand this by taking an example. The government foresees a surge in air travelers in a city. This increased demand cannot be served by the existing airport in the city. So, the government decides to build a new airport to cater to this increased demand. The construction of this new airport will be termed as a project. Once the airport is ready, the organization will run this new airport and generate revenue with that airport by providing services to the flyers. This revenue may come from fees from the airlines, passenger fees and fees from the licenses given to the merchants, to set up shops in the airport premises. This will be termed as the operations.

In an organization, people may work on both projects as well as operations; there are some marked differences between projects and operations.

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