The term ‘Project’ normally defines a time-bound set of actions, usually meant for the future, starting with the present, and based on the experiences of the past, and right from historical times, the art of successfully managing a project has often been witnessed in Man’s conquest of new lands, wars, space and even modern technology. However in recent times, that has transformed into a science that can be learned, mastered and practiced in any field or discipline by the application of some simple ground rules, that can ensure successful project completion by anyone in any situation.
The Nucleus: Any project is centered around an objective, which could germinate from an idea or a wish to fulfill a mission, and efforts are directed to achieve the same within a specified time frame, – that is the crux, and without which, no worthwhile activity is possible.
The Origin: One single person or a group who are the brains/sponsors behind the whole thing, carry out the essential steps of conceiving the project plan, and provisioning of the required inputs/resources and do an extremely critical job in the formative stages, and continue to do so, till the lifetime of the project.
The Person: Ideas, goals and objectives are inanimate, but require a warm blooded human to carry out the sponsor’s plan, by manipulating the available resources, in accordance with the specified time frames, – he/she is none other than the “project manager” who embodies both the key functions of authority and responsibility. At times the originator/sponsor could also play this part, and well.
The Execution: The project manager and team are empowered to draw their inspiration from the project plans conceived by the originators, and develop sub-plans to meet each and individual area/discipline, but keeping in focus the main project’s goal. They have to use standard tools like Gantt charts, spreadsheets, and more involved techniques and tracking systems to note, tag, review and provide the necessary inputs at appropriate stages, in effect manage the resources within the time and budget.
Project Manager-the Omnipotent CPU: The flow of much needed resources, including people and materials, has to be coordinated through managers coming from different disciplines, and here the project manager plays the crucial role of the CPU, to get the project proceeding as per plan. Here “communication” between all the participating players, takes the top place among the activities and ensures dissemination of relevant information on critical performance parameters, such as time and quantity targets, financial implications, and also on failures to enable suitable correction en route.
Celebration of Success: Project leaders and teams need to be motivated, and thus any project that reaches successful completion requires to be recognized, and celebrated.
The all-important completed project analysis: Projects can reach completion, in some cases as per plan, or sometimes much short of the plan, but in each instance an in-depth analysis to evaluate the gaps between plan and actuals, forms a very important activity, and can throw considerable light on deficiencies in planning, execution and possible remedies for the future projects as well.
The Essence: Successful project management is the culmination of the efforts of several people and that includes both the originators and the team members who managed the project, and therefore needs to be studied and implemented at all stages of the project, till the end and even thereafter.