Module MC060

Project Management


Module author

Erling S. Andersen

BI Norwegian Business School

Learning objectives

After you have studied this module, you will know:

  • what a project is;
  • why projects are getting so popular;
  • how to start up a project and what constitutes project success;
  • how to do the project planning;
  • how to organize the project;
  • how to control the progress of project work;
  • some important aspects of project leadership;
  • why project-based enterprises choose to organize projects into a program;
  • how project-based enterprises handle their project portfolio.

Chapter 1: What is a project?

Chapter 2: What is project success?

Chapter 3: The different functions of project management

Chapter 4: Composing the foundation of the project
4.1 Business Case
4.2 Project Charter

Chapter 5: Planning the project
5.1 Start-up meeting
5.2 Different approaches to planning
5.3 Planning all activities from start
5.4 Milestone planning
5.5 Example milestone plan for working environment project
5.6 Uncertainty
5.7 Agile methods

Chapter 6: Organizing the project
6.1 External organization
6.2 Internal organization

Chapter 7: Controlling the project

Chapter 8: Leadership in projects
8.1 The duties of the project manager
8.2 Leadership style
8.3 Team development

Chapter 9: The project-based enterprise
9.1 Program management
9.2 Portfolio management

Workload units 3
Read Module Excerpt Project Management


Why Open School of Management believes that competences in project management are important

A project is a long-term plan that a business enterprise undertakes to reach a goal. A manager puts together a team of professionals and assigns them tasks to ensure success. Before the project begins, it's essential for the project manager to put in place a plan and to determine how long the project will take to complete.


Why study Project Management?

Most businesses or organizations will have to undertake a project at some point. For example, if a business is introducing a new product or service, it needs a marketing plan and a team of professionals. The more successful projects a business completes, the more it will thrive.


Module overview

What is a project?

A project is a planned, group activity designed to produce a new product or service, or to achieve a goal within a timeframe. A project differs from ongoing activities such as accounting or marketing. The objectives of a large project must be clearly stated to reduce the risk of setbacks.

What is project success?

Project success can mean different things depending on the team. For a project manager, it's essential to get the project completed on time, within the budget, and to satisfy or exceed expectations of the customer. In a design project, success may be measured by the creativity of the designer who gains recognition in their industry for their new design concepts. To a software developer, it may mean developing new software that increases productivity or introduces a new concept.

The different functions of project management

Here are the important functions to include in a project:

  • Project documents
  • Managing communications
  • Cost management
  • Project changes
  • Managing issues
  • Procurement
  • Managing issues
  • Quality control
  • Managing resources
  • Risk management
  • Scheduling
  • Scope of the project
  • Stakeholders

Documents for the project have to be created. Relevant documents include the proposal, the charter, a detailed plan, a closeout document, and vendor plans. Managing the communications includes choosing the tools for effective communication for the duration of the project. Communication tools may include in-house staff meetings, webinars, email, or conference calls.

Communications management determines whom the team reports to, and the frequency of communications. Managing the cost includes creating a budget, controlling costs and the earned value analysis. Change management determines how changes to the project are managed and processing requests for changes.

Managing issues refers to creating a log to determine what issues may emerge that could affect the timeframe or cost, and designating team members to handle unforeseen issues as they occur. A member or members of the project team should be responsible for contacting and managing vendors and contracts.

Members of the project team should be responsible for maintaining quality control over the project. Each detail of the project should be carefully monitored until the project's completion. Resource management involves assigning members of the project team to tasks based upon their areas of expertise and availability.

Risk management is a vital part of any project. An analysis of the risks must be determined and assessed, and contingency plans for alternative methods of handling details must be in place. At the outset, an estimate of the timeframe should be established.

Determining the scope of the project refers to what the project will accomplish. The budget in terms of the cost and the time each team member invests in accomplishing their goal is a consideration. The need of all stakeholders is an essential part of managing a project. Everyone involved must receive updates on a regular basis through in-house meetings or email so they always know the status of the project. Stakeholder needs are part of the communications aspect. An analysis and map of the stakeholders is a detail to handle at the beginning of the project.

Composing the foundation of the project

The first step is to lay the groundwork for the project. Gather as much information as you can about the client. Your project may fail unless you do the necessary research. Even though you want to get started as soon as possible, learning what the client expects may save unnecessary delays later.

Planning the project

When the project is in the planning stage, it's important to make a detailed list of the tasks that need to be done and the importance of each one. How teams and individuals are to be managed should in the plan. Contingency plans for handling potential problems should be in the plan. A tentative estimate of how much the project will cost should be in the initial plan.

Start-up Meeting: The purpose of the start-up meeting is to educate the team about the reasons for the project and to make sure everyone understands the project goals. The project manager should conduct the meeting in such a way that the team has a common understanding of the project. When the meeting is over everyone should understand what their specific tasks are and how to proceed.

Different Approaches to Planning: The traditional approach works on the assumption that the goals and details of the project will remain the same from start to finish. The critical chain approach takes at least one possible delay or a slowdown in productivity into consideration. Tracking the time that team members spend on the project is a way to remove hindrances.

Planning All Activities From Start: To plan a successful project, analyze all the requirements and details of the plan using tools including models or storyboards. If some team members aren't familiar with the tools, allow sufficient time for experimentation.

Milestone Planning: Planning milestones in your project can help to increase the productivity of the team. Although the major milestones are the most exciting, for example, the launch of a new product, most are pretty basic. Typical milestones involve determining whether the project is on schedule.

Example Milestone Plan For Working Environment Project: Writing a specific plan for milestones for your project helps to set the project in motion and makes it easier to develop a business plan. Each specific action you must take during the course of the project is a milestone. Create a milestone plan listing as many actions as you can. Each milestone should have a name, the date it's due, the budget, and the person in charge. A spreadsheet is an easy way to create your milestone chart. For example:

1. Column One - Milestone
2. Column Two - Date the milestone is due
3. Column Three - Person responsible

It's important to track each of your milestones and to record the actual results.

Uncertainty: Uncertainty in a project can be a major obstacle, and usually comes from under or overestimating timeframe, costs, and the work involved. To avoid uncertainty, use multiple sources for estimating, and do this two or three times. Use a tool for estimating, and always have a contingency plan.

Agile Methods: Agile methods, also known as extreme project management, delivers smaller portions of the project in specific timeframes, rather than completing them when you're nearing the end of your project.

Organizing the project

When you're organizing a project, make a detailed list of everything you'll need and the estimated cost of each item. Try to stay within budget. Choose your team and decide which duties each team member has. Keep detailed records of all expenses. Plan your presentation for the shareholders.

External Organization: The external organization refers to all the entities involved who influence the project but aren't part of the business.

Internal Organization: The most important aspects of internal project organization are to set up lines of communication at the outset. Regular meetings, to review new technologies and methods, should be a part of the project.

Controlling the Project: Project control is the responsibility of the team manager, who must track and monitor all activity for the duration of the project. It's essential that the client's need are being met and that each member of your team is responsible for completing their work.

Leadership in projects

The project leader must have excellent communication skills. The leader must be committed to the project and its success, create ethical standards and be competent enough to handle all obstacles.

The Duties of the Project Manager: The project manager must have the skills to manage project activity, delegate authority to responsible team members, monitor all activity, and to keep in close contact with the client and the team.

Leadership Style: Leadership styles vary depending on the person. A few of the many styles of leadership are authoritarian, when the manager has direct control over the project and participants. The democratic style consists of the leader and workers sharing decision-making. The laissez-faire style leaves all decisions up to team members.

The project-based enterprise

The project-based enterprise differs from mass production because each project is carefully tailored to fit the needs of each client and provides customizable products.

Program Management: Successful program management consists of managing several projects and improving the overall production of the business.

Portfolio Management: Managing all technology and methods of collecting data for various projects, activities, and investments of a business may be the responsibility of a manager or team of managers.


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