The Concept of Project Management

tThe concept of project management revolves around a case study, a company’s project or operation – but as a whole, it involves management and how to be able to successfully carry out a task up to the end of its schedule set up by the project manager or the customer. Project management involves managing an activity which can be about a project at work, at school, or at home. Largely, it connotes project management in business or organization.

Practically, no organization operates without a project or activity; this project has to be managed by a well-trained manager, who knows how to act in situations that require immediate and precise decisions.

Project management is a major area of concentration in organizations – successful managers know what project management is all about. Project managers occupy a unique position within an organization because they supervise both special and regular projects and activities of the organization.

This essay deals with situations and guidelines for the success of a project by the project manager and his team. All projects involve a manager and a team who must work hand in hand up to its success.

In a manufacturing plant, productions and operations are linked to project management and is the process by which goods and services are created. Operations management deals with decision making related to productive processes to ensure that the resulting goods or services are produced according to specifications.

Effective project management is getting the right things done on time (Larson and Drexler, 2009, p. 1).

In the field of education, on the other hand, project management is designing learning experiences that link practice and theory (Miller, 1991, cited in Falkenberg et al., 2000, p. 745).

Let’s take one story after another, or one success project after another: the story of Toyota Prius before it went out into controversy. Toyota’s teams of engineers and project managers handle one project after another like it is an ordinary part of business.

Toyota took on the task of implementing knowledge management in its projects, and for all of its successes, there have been ups and downs. Toyota has been on the forefront of car making because of an effective project management coupled with an efficient and competitive workforce. Hybrid Prius is one of its success stories, i.e. before the controversies.

In the 1950s Toyota was only a small company, averaging 18,000 vehicles per year. As years passed on, management perfected the so-called Toyota Production System – this is the Japanese way, a means of achieving mass production efficiencies with small volumes. Toyota expanded to become export-oriented and began to open manufacturing plants in many countries including the United States, operating in the same strategy. (Lynch, 2008, p. 772)

Until now, the kaizen method of production, which is known as continual improvement is being implemented in Toyota’s projects of hybrid or no-hybrid vehicles.

How can project management be successfully done?

Experienced project managers take it step by step. As an illustration, the diagram in the proceeding page can illustrate how a project management should be handled.

project management

Inputs of materials, labor, and resources are used to obtain goods or services using one or more conversion/transformation processes, thereby adding value. This diagram demonstrates how a project is normally done, and how this should be implemented by a qualified and united team to make it a successful project management.

The period between the beginning and end of a project is usually referred to as the project life cycle. It is convenient and necessary here to introduce three key players in the project life cycle:

  • The customer who is also known as the client who wants to buy the project and put the end product to use in its own business or sell (or lease) it on to a third party.
  • The contractor is the organization principally responsible to the customer for carrying out the project work.
  • The project manager is a person employed by the contractor (or occasionally by the customer) to plan and manage all the project activities so that the project is finished on time within budget and within its specification. (Lock, 2007, pp. 6-7)

“The primary aim of the project manager is for the result to satisfy the project sponsor or purchaser and all the other principal stakeholders, within the promised timescale and without using more money and other resources than those that were originally set aside or budgeted” (Lock, 2007, p. 1).

When we plan a project, we can save a lot of efforts by making some basic decisions before going to begin to enter task or resource data. We have to establish calendars or milestones. The project relies on some calendars that are established for each project and for some project resources. We start by opening the project calendar and use this to establish working and nonworking days and to set the number of work hours per day. Working days or work hours per day must be set for the team members and make a resource calendar for them.

Knowledge, teamworking and management have to go hand in hand (Koch, 2004).

There’s also a connection between HRD and project management. Some colleges and universities have included HRD and project management in their curricula. (Carden and Egan, 2008, p. 310)

For a bit of history in this essay, we have to go back to the early 1900s when rapid industrialization and the demands of munitions production in World War I saw the emergence of management scientists and industrial engineers such as Elton Mayo and Frederick Winslow Taylor, who studied people and productivity in factories (Kanigel, 1997). Henry Ford made production-line manufacture famous with his Model T automobile and, especially important for project managers, Henry Gantt (1861-191), who worked for Taylor, developed his now-famous charts which are still popular and used universally today. (Lock, 2007, p. 3)

In the 1950s to 1960s, the emergence of mainframe digital computers made the processing and updating of critical path networks faster and easier. The American defence industry and Du Pont were among the organizations quick to exploit this powerful planning and scheduling tool in the 1950s. The manufacturing construction industries soon came to recognize the benefits of these new methods. (Lock, 2007, p. 3)

In the 1970s, there was a rapid growth in information technology. Industrial project management continued as before, now added with project management software. However, the spread of IT brought another, different kind of project manager on the scene: these were the IT project managers who possessed technical and mental skills needed to lead teams developing IT projects. (Lock, 2007, p. 3)

There is also the archetype of the analysis, design, develop, implement, evaluate also known as ADDIE which has been called into question with the various innovations and expansion of information technology. The proliferation of cutting-edge e-technologies have caused the process of instructional development to become so complex that ADDIE is now out of place with the times. (Fabac, 2006, p. 540)

Van Meel (1993) emphasized the importance of planning and control for project managers in handling projects. 20% of a project manager’s time should be concentrated on planning while 80% deals with control. Sleezer and Swanson (1989) suggested that an effective process management plan and a process management record should be available for project management.

In other words, project management has been reinforced or heightened with the emergence of high technology tools. With constant changes and the demands of effectiveness and efficiency, project managers should have adequate planning, controlling, and communication expertise.

Looking at the various projects and activities of organizations, we find project management to be interesting and something worthy to carry along as we pursue future endeavours and careers. Not only is the topic fruitful and important to project managers but to any member of an organization or to anyone involved in a profession that involves diversity and a lot of projects and activities. We manage or follow our managers who are leaders. Understanding the concept and methods of project management enables us to be a part of the success of any project.

The key to the success of the project is the manager’s understanding of the knowledge and skills in a particular project, coupled with teamwork and close coordination with the project staff.

References

Carden, L. and Egan, T. (2008). Human Resource Development and Project Management: Key Connections. Human Resource Development Review; 7; 309. DOI: 10.1177/1534484308320577. DOI: 10.1177/0143831X04042492.

Fabac, J. (2006). Project management for systematic training. Advances in Developing Human Resources; 8; 540. DOI: 10.1177/1523422306293010.

Falkenberg, L.,Russell, and Ricker, L. (2000). Linking theory with practice: undergraduate project management with school-age children. Journal of Management Education; 24; 745. DOI: 10.1177/105256290002400607.

Koch, C. (2004). The Tyranny of Projects: Teamworking, Knowledge Production and Management in Consulting Engineering. Economic and Industrial Democracy 2004; 25; 277.

Larson, E. and Drexler, J. (2009). Project management in real time. Journal of Management Education. Volume XX, 10. DOI: 10.1177/1052562909335860.

Lock, D. (2007). Project Management (Ninth Edition). England: Gower Publishing Limited.

Lynch, R. (2008). Global Automotive Vehicle – Strategy in a Mature Market and Toyota: What is its Strategy for World Leadership. In Strategic Management, 5th edition (Financial Times/ Prentice Hall), pp. 767-775.

Sleezer, C. M., & Swanson, R. A. (1989). Is your training department out of control? Performance and Instruction, 28(5), 22-26.

Shim, J. and Siegel, J. (1999). Operations Management: A Streamlined Course for Students and Business People. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

van Meel, R. M. (1993). Project-based module development (Report No. ISBN-90-358-1241-7). Heerlen, The Netherlands: Centre for Educational Technology and Innovation. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED734212)