Projects come in a variety of shapes and sizes, this includes the cost, number of resources and time to complete. I believe if you understand the core definition of a project and its constituent parts you are well on the way to a successful project.
Wikipedia defines Project Management as follows:
“Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.”
From the Association of Project Managers we can take this:
“Project Management is designed to focus attention on the delivery of specific outputs: the creation of deliverables or products against agreed time, quality and cost targets”
And lastly from the ogc.gov.uk website:
“Projects bring together resources, skills, technology and ideas to achieve business objectives and deliver business benefits. Good project management helps to ensure that risks are identified and managed appropriately, and objectives and benefits are achieved within budget, within time and to the required quality.”
It skrikes me that the core areas of project management are these:
Understand the end goal: What is the core objective of this project.
What are the steps to achieve the goal: This is the fundamental part of any project plan – breaking down the tasks required to be completed in order to achieve the end product.
Who has responsibility: Along with identifying the steps of a project you must also identify who is responsible for each task and who will actually carry out the work required to complete the said project task.
What timeline: You may need to complete your project by a certain time, in order to meet other requirements or for example, take advantage of a gap in the market caused by a change in legislation. You may simply have a company wide initiative and be planning to implement this change initiative. Irrespective of the driver you must set a realistic timeline for your project, driven by each step that has to be completed and the resources that you have to complete that task.
What is your budget: You may have limited resources or simply want to manage the cost of your budget to ensure it doesn’t become a drain on other resources, either way document fully your budget and monitor it as the project progresses.
Communication: Tied in with the responsibility – you should set up a communication plan to understand how the project will be monitored and what will be the lines of communication. This will include toll gates or sign-off milestones and a periodic project progress report with all stakeholders.
In each of these areas there are additional factors to consider, including the influence of your project sponsor, assessing risks and managing expectations of all project stakeholders. In all projects whether a one person assignment for a few days or a vast organisation wide challenge involving multiple departments, hundreds of people and budgeted at millions of pounds if you stick to the basics throughout the projects life you have a greatly increased your chances of success.