Benefits Of Project Management Methodologies

Introduction

Project management describes an organizational approach to the management about ongoing operations linked to a project. Project management has an importance since the early 1980s as a distinct discipline. The first step in developing any discipline is to develop a Body of Knowledge on the discipline as detailed concepts, processes and methodologies are developed. Project management has recognition due to the massive growth of the IT industry and managing the problems of projects effectively. Project management has body of knowledge, project management tools and software. The project management body of knowledge is a universal body of knowledge on the discipline and it has developed to make basic competency and knowledge in project management personnel to handle difficult projects in an ordered manner.

A methodology is a set of guiding principle that can be modified and useful to a precise condition. A methodology might also be a precise approach, templates, forms, and even checklists used over the project life cycle. A recognized project methodology is supposed to lead the effort of all team members all over the life cycle of a project. All members of a group should be well-known with and use the selected methodology right through their projects. Many project management methodologies agreement with the management of a single project, without appreciating that many other projects in a company compete for the very same assets and awareness. The project management methodology should also suggest project managers with the point of view that there is a project management framework and related methodologies present in the company.

In this article, we will be discussing PMBoK of the Project Management Institute (PMI, USA) and APM (Association of Project Managers) (UK). In addition, we will also look at PRINCE2, that is more of a software product for project management, but flexible enough to fit in between, a body of knowledge and a full scale SW product. While both APM and Prince2 have their origin in UK, PMBoK is from PMI of USA. APM represents the BoK from France, Germany, UK, and Switzerland. PMBoK and APM are body of knowledge while PRINC2 is a PM software product and hence branded as prescriptive (defined for the user with limited flexibility within the overall framework), while the BoK is just a body of knowledge, that need to be put to use by defining the operational elements.

Benefits of Project Management Methodologies

Structured approaches as in PMBOK and products such as Prince2, enable capture all elements of the project upfront; educate project team on the various elements and their relationships /dependencies, to create a workable and accountable team environment. Projects as different from non project (operational) environments are extremely time, resource, dependencies and outcome sensitive, and are not eternal. To implement a project, a team is assembled to execute the project as different from an operational phase where employees work on a consistent / homogeneous environment for long time, and there is a natural learning process of the job and cross dependencies. Projects cannot afford the luxury of natural learning. PM methodologies thus focus on the conscious deliberate approach to build capacity in the project team for execution through training, clear definition of the project, roles and tasks, assets, improvement description and methods of tracking improvement, communication, risk management and mid course correction, and so on. These are achieved through defined processes and definition of functional areas and their relationships. A project organization structure will deliver the output in line with the processes defined in the PM methodologies. Thus a structured approach greatly helps in avoiding costly and time consuming discoveries during the project phase, and adopting a trial and error method. It is basically an attempt to define and clarify upfront, and put in place processes to implement tasks that are clarified and defined. PM methodologies also ensure through IT technology that drives them, consistency and integrity of project information and the data it relies on, for subsequent actions by various project team actors. Data consistency and timely availability is one of the most critical impediments to any project. Technology induction in PM helps in having one single page view of all facets of the project at any point in time, for all stakeholders, on a need to know basis, within as well as outside the project. As structured approaches removes this shortcoming by capturing data from the business processes itself, there is no need for or time lost in database updating. The updating is thus compulsive, error free and automatic.

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Structured approaches also helps define criticality and automatic generation of alerts on defined project events for timely intervention as well as tracking performance. This helps avoid costly actions that otherwise would have been taken based on hunch, without access to current data.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

PMBOK was initiated by the PMI in 1987 to standardize generally accepted project management practices. The focus is on process driven management to ensure standardization of good practices on the lines of ISO 9000 and the Software Engineering Institute’s CMMI. PMBOK is structured as five process groups and nine knowledge areas and is compliant with IEEE Std 1490-2003. The five processes are: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. PMBoK processes are project phase driven in terms of Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.), Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs) and Outputs (documents, products, etc.). The nine knowledge areas address Project Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk and Procurement.

Each knowledge area is conceived to comprise all or some of the processes. The philosophy of any PM methodology is breaking down the works in a structured manner (WBS), sequencing them, define their relationships, dependencies, start and end dates, resources needed, costs, risks, and follow concepts of critical paths, resource leveling and so on.

PM methodologies explicitly identify all above ingredients of a project that are mostly internal to the project. In addition, there are several factors considered to be exogenous to the project itself, which thinking is changing now. These exogenous factors are the human resources, finance, environmental management, stakeholder management, regulations, relationships, risks, project outcomes in terms of quantifiable benefits and the time when they are to occur, Thus project management has extended its boundary by internalizing their forward and backward linkages with the project itself. PM is no longer a pure engineering function, but a critical holistic techno, commercial – managerial task.

Why PMBOK?

The project management body of knowledge is a generalized body of knowledge on the discipline, developed to create basic competence and knowledge, in project management personnel, to handle complex projects in a structured manner. This was important since the people working and managing projects (having to manage projects) in the IT industry, was young and inexperienced, and IT project management itself was an emerging area. Therefore it was felt that a defined body of knowledge is necessary to build the concept of PM.

Comparison with Traditional or non-structured methodology (Waterfall Model)

Waterfall model is expensive and lengthy to back to a previous phase to fix them if encounter difficulties during one phase. If there have problems with the design during construction, then the only way is to stop all construction work and restart the design process otherwise most of the construction work will not match the new design. Construction can start again only after the new design finalized, documented, and signed off. It makes changes very difficult to implement the PMBOK can formulate waterfall development seem natural and appropriate.

PRINCE 2

PRINCE2 project management methodology is a world-class standard for managing projects to a successful conclusion. It is a de facto standard used widely by the UK Government and is broadly recognized and used in the private area, both in the UK and globally. PRINCE2, the method, is in the public area, offering non-proprietorial best-practice guideline on project management. In fact Prince2 is not good enough on the quality management in projects but strong on Risk Management.

It covers how to arrange, proceed and control your projects. As a Project manager, the principles of PRINCE2 and the related training can be used to any type of project to manage risk, control quality and change successfully, as well as build the most of demanding situations and opportunities, that occur within a project.

The key features of PRINCE2 are:

its spotlight on business justification

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a definite business constitution for the project management team

its product-based development approach

its highlighting on isolating the project into controllable and manageable stages

its elasticity to be used at a stage suitable to the project

PRINCE2 does not explain all aspects of project management.  Fields such as leadership and people management skills, detailed coverage of project management tools and techniques covered by other existing and proven methods are excluded from PRINCE2.

Benefits of using PRINCE2

PRINCE2 gives benefits to the managers and directors of a project and to an organization through the apply of resources and the skill to manage business and risk more successfully. PRINCE is broadly recognized, understood and giving a general language for all participants in a project. It also supports formal identification of duties within a project and focuses on what a project is to deliver, why, when and for whom. PRINCE2 supplies projects with a controlled and organized start, middle and end. It helps to review of progress against plan and against the business case and ensure the involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time and place during the project and good communication guide between the project, project management and the organization.

Project Managers using PRINCE2 are able to:

set up terms of reference as a precondition to the initiate of a project

use a defined formation for delegation, authority and communication

split the project into controllable phases for more correct planning

make sure resource promise from management is part of any approval to proceed

give regular but brief management reports

maintain meetings with management and stakeholders to a minimum but at the essential points in the project.

For senior management PRINCE2 uses the ‘management by exception’ idea. They are kept fully up to date of the project condition without having to be present at regular, time-consuming meetings. There are many organizations providing teaching, consultancy and tools services for PRINCE2, thus ensuring a competitive supply. In addition, there is an active user group dedicated to the support, promotion and strengthening of the method.

APM Body of Knowledge

The APM Body of Knowledge is a recognized collection of project management knowledge. It gives introductions and general guides to those areas measured vital to the regulation of managing projects, and it is visibly structured with definitions, explanations and recommended further evaluation material. This information will direct and help those involved in project management in their effort, studies and learning for accepted qualifications.

While a structure has been provided to handle the BoK, it should not be construed as one element of the structure, being independent of the other. In fact they are all interdependent and the structure is only for the purpose of logical organization and clarity. They are treated separately due to their significance and to aid in simplicity of their presentation. In reality, many topics may fit into more than one section – as they may be applicable to more than one phase of a project. For example, project risk management and project quality management are not to be treated as topics in isolation.

APM Body of Knowledge and PRINCE2 Compared

There are many similarities that can be found when comparing the APM Body of Knowledge with PRINCE2. For example, they both:

Describe generic approaches to project management that can be useful in spite of the type of project

Can be applied across geological and cultural boundaries, even though they both originate within the United Kingdom

Recognize that they cannot provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula to project success

Cover the topics of Business Case, Organizational Roles, Quality Management, Risk Management, Change Control, Issue Management, Configuration Management, and aspects of Planning and of Progress Control.

The key difference between APM Body of Knowledge and PRINCE2

PRINCE 2 is a structured project management method and APM BoK a body of project management knowledge

APM BoK provides descriptions and explanations of a broad range of project management topics and takes a discipline-based approach to project management , where PRINCE 2 Provides detailed descriptions of specific approaches that PRINCE2 has for a fairly narrow range of project management topics and takes a process-based approach to project management

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A brief comparison of PMBOK and APM depicts following salient features

In addition to commonalities, PMBOK explicitly addresses socio economics, quality management, risk management, communication, stakeholders and organizational influences, while APM addresses success / failure criteria, post project appraisal, project environment such as law, mobilization, delegation, leadership communication, conflict, negotiation, and industrial relations, marketing skills.

IT Governance and Methodologies

IT project committee has come into view as an important corporate duty. The capacity to manage strict managerial and board control over main IT projects throughout their lifecycle, has become a decision making issue in shaping businesses bloom and creator with tools at the spirit of most businesses. PRINCE 2 offers a process model that is aimed to be applied, as a set of steps in a coherent sequence by a project manager in planning and managing a project. The application of the process model is adjustable to almost all types of projects and a good number of complexities. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 manual contains a number of materials that are regulations for a project manager in applying the process model. The

PMBOK details are a set of processes that descend under nine Knowledge Areas and can be connected in five groups if the project manager prefers. PMBOK offers the project manager a considerable range of data about proven practices in this area and provoke the project manager to relate these where they think appropriate but PRINCE2 provides more regulatory steps for the project manager and teams to follow.

Knowledge areas of the PMBOK and the procedures and materials of PRINCE2 and APM have many similar topics. It is clear that all three represent ‘best practice’ with their difference being in the implementation as a methodology and a number of terminology differences. The PRINCE 2 approach has some advantages that it brings a degree of consistency in an organization. At the same time as allowing for tailoring to a range of projects generally requires undertaking the same processes and using the same terminology for all projects. There have some payback in corporate program management, project staff training programs, project presentation and tracking systems. The disadvantage is restricts creativity in the diversity of methods applied to managing a project.

There have some benefits in accepting both PMBOK and PRINCE2 to co-exist in several companies. PMBOK presents the academic knowledge resource that is useful in improving the profession of project management. It also permits flexibility in adoption and implementation that is context driven. PRINCE2 presents a process model that is applied directly by project managers and teams from a diverse range of backgrounds to make consistent project management and project results. Though there are several commonalities across projects of all types one need to have organizational efficiency, flexibility and creativity to make various kind of projects. In short PRINCE2 is a ready to consume food, while PMBOK and APM are ingredients that need to be cooked the way one wants, but one need to know how to do it.

Concluding observations

While there are only a few initiatives on the Body of Knowledge in Project Management such as PmBok and APM, there are several Software products that help implement a professional and structured project management practice. These products vary from stand alone packages that are implementable on single systems to the most sophisticated ones that are even implementable as a web based system, Some of the products also integrate with the other organizational systems such ERP and functional software packages that help integrate the entire functions of running an organization whether in the excusive business of managing projects or projects are only one of the activities of the organization.

While the BoK helps those in project management to understand project management as a structured disciple the products helps in implementing structured project management practice.

Project management as any other discipline is still emerging and it should not be surprising if the discipline undergoes a complete transformation as the discipline matures and branches out into further project specific specialties as has happened in the case of Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP). Project management specialists should look out for such evolving opportunities with an open innovative mind.

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