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What is Project Management?




"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”


Albert Einstein, a man much ahead of his time, said this which is a perfect fit for today's world. In a world that is changing as rapidly as it is now, it has become very important to understand the value of something.


Each and every work or job, which is accomplished today, is done after assessing the impact it will have and calculating its value in every way.


For instance, when the government comes with a plan of building a bridge in the city to reduce the high traffic congestion, it does so after doing a lot of calculations and assessment like

How much will be the budget of the construction?

What will be the architecture of the bridge?

What percentage of vehicles will get benefitted from the project?

And many more questions like that.


Once the impact is assessed and anticipated value is decided, the next step in the flow is planning how to achieve it in detail.



Cricket team
Indian Cricket Team, image by ICC

For instance, if a team of 11 men are playing a game of sport (example- cricket, hockey, football, etc.) with another team with same number of men in the field, they will need to co-ordinate and communicate smoothly to perform well and win. But is that possible without having planning, training and rigorous practices of execution of those plans? No, it's not. Every team, that outperforms any other team in a game, most of the time, does it not just with an effort of individual performance from a single player but by the well planned team effort from everyone.


Be it a software development for secure financial transactions or be it development of a public highway. Be it conducting a high school chemistry experiment or sending a space shuttle to the moon. Every work or job to deliver some service or to make something specific for specific purposes is now termed as a Project. And each and every project has a specific goal which has a value.


Now, whenever a project is initiated be it by a large institution or by a simple school student, While initiating a project, a lot of assessment is done about the cost of achieving the goal of the project and the value which the goal will have after completing the project successfully. A lot of planning is done in order to understand the process of achieving the goal of the project before the execution.


6 major project constraints
Project constraints, image by edzest

All the tasks, activities and costs are completely calculated and planned before Execution. The better the planning and assessment is, the easier the execution becomes; eventually increasing the chances of achievement of the desired goal of the project smoothly.


The whole process involved in the initiation, planning, and execution of the project to deliver the desired value of the goal it wants to achieve is called Project Management.


In this fast growing world where increasing population of humanity is compelling innovations in every field, technology is evolving rapidly in order to keep up with such ever changing and ever growing demands of society , environments and businesses.


As a result of which managing all these projects have become a huge task and a lucrative career path for many. The way of simultaneously planning, collaboration, and execution of tasks for successful completion of projects is the responsibility of a Project Manager.


Now-a-days with changing time and easy access to information, the job title of project managers is seen everywhere today but the idea of a person managing and planning enterprise or strategic thinking for executing any specific thing or job isn't restricted only to the professional settings. Remember the time when someone arranged a friend's or family picnic in which you're in charge of something. Be it buying groceries or cooking the delicious meal or choosing a location of your next party or to just carrying all the necessities that will be needed. It all required planning, managing and execution to successfully enjoy the picnic. That's what is a job of project manager, and on a larger scale, the projects become huge and much more tactical for people in charge.


Now, the scale of project management and the task around it has become so much impactful to the society. People have been terming our whole economy "The Project Economy"

It states the amount of value and stakes are on these projects and the job of managing these to success are important.


Let's take a case in example of small business that need to run their business as a project that has multiple changing requirements.


The importance of planning and managing is often neglected in such small organizations and enterprises and it affects them a lot.


- More than 30% of the small businesses do not survive the first 3 years of operations, if they do not have a business plan (Francis J. Greene & Hopp 2017)


- In the USA, every month about 543,000 new businesses start, but in the first two years only seven out of 10 is still in business, whereas after five years 5 out of 10 are still around. Interestingly enough, the businesses that manage to survive for 5 years, about 70% follow a strategic business plan (Nazar, 2013).


A planned approach and a clear idea of steps of execution helps a lot in any project. A new research from Barclays stated that in the UK one out of four small businesses (23%) do not have any business plan. Approximately half (47%) of the UK’s small businesses have formal (written) business plans in place while the remaining (25%) have informal (verbal) business plans in place (Talk Business, 2016).


Even to continue some projects constantly (typically agile), there is a need of management on every level. Ordering food online is a thing that many people do on a regular basis and it has become a reason of booming food businesses. Whenever someone orders food from restaurant, there are some series of steps which are followed for successful delivery of the food at the desired place.


These are the steps which goes on and on and gets repeated every time there is an order but what will happen if there is a shortage of delivery men on someday? or if there is extra pressure on some holiday, how will be that pressure of huge orders handled?


This is where Project Management comes in and does the job of tackling the pressure. A strong management team always helps business to deal with sudden changes and challenges coming in the way every now and then.

It is stated that If a large business has a formal written business plan, then there is a 30% chance of growth in sales and also the chance to double the business. Indeed, business plans have a lot of importance on the success of the business and for the going concern (Henricks, 2008).


A good management is necessary for a successful project. Technology, with time has become such that measuring the success rate of any project on a large scale has become easy, which has helped organization's management to change planning and adapt to demands and needs of the time.


This ability of human mind, to tactically handle and solve a problem, to think in simple and strategic way for a given purpose has helped in achievement of great things in past and is still serving to be one of the greatest tool of success for anyone in their education, sports, careers, business, etc.



References:


Nazar, J. (2013). 16 Surprising Statistics About Small Businesses in USA. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/09/09/16-surprising-statistics-about-small-businesses/#62dbac535ec8


Talk Business. (2016). 1 in 4 UK SMEs don’t use a business plan. Retrieved from https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2015/01/29/1-4-uk-smes-dont-use-business-plan/


Francis J. Greene, & Hopp, C. (2017). Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/07/research-writing-a-business-plan-makes-your-startup-more-likely-to-succeed



Henricks, M. (2008). Do You Really Need a Business Plan? Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/198618



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