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– Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/its/about/pm/

Project Management Philosophy and Mission

In today's business environment, two factors have become common: change and complexity. The nature of business has incorporated these factors into our everyday lives. We work in an environment of constant change and increasing complexity, and to survive, we must be competitive, productive, customer–focused, and profitable. Business has also become extremely complicated. This complexity is related to the number of factors involved in the effort, the global scope of markets, and the sheer size of the efforts being undertaken. Even small decisions often involve the interplay of hundreds of variables.

Executing the strategic vision of any corporation is critical to its success. More than ever, corporations are being held accountable for delivering on their strategic promises. Establishing strategic vision and initiatives has become quite an art and most organizations are very successful in accomplishing this feat. Unfortunately, the tactical execution of strategic vision has not fared well. Projects and programs that deliver on strategic initiatives have varying degrees of success, depending primarily on the project manager that is responsible for delivering the final solution. Cultures of most organizations are not focused on how to effectively and efficiently executing strategic vision. Project and program management provides the means by which to plan and execute the initiatives that deliver strategic success.

Our organization is embracing project management as a leadership discipline and we are providing this tool to guide program and project managers from start to finish through their projects. The processes presented in this guide illustrate the science of project management. Project management is equally divided between the art and science and a successful project manager utilizes and refines both skill sets to effectively manage projects.

This PM Tool Kit was developed as an easy–to–use guide to be used by all program and project managers within this organization. It provides tools and techniques, tailored to our organization, and necessary to successfully manage projects of any size or complexity. The project life cycle consists of four major phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution & Control, and Project Close Out. Documents and templates supporting the project management process have been tailored to meet the need of having a "Basic Toolkit" of pre–designed decision support tools. Hyperlinks are provided to take you directly to the tools if you are using an electronic copy of this manual.

This manual presents a framework for managing projects using basic tools needed for success. The framework should be modified for each individual project as it applies to the given effort. This model provides a methodical approach to conducting projects so that they meet the needs of the project sponsors successfully and consistently. A glossary of common project management terms is included to help standardize terminology.

What Is A Project?

Projects are the temporary assemblage of key personnel designed to accomplish specific business objectives with identifiable customers in mind. All projects have a beginning and an end. The end of a project is defined by the successful delivery of the product or service. There are some traits that all projects have in common. The most distinguishing feature is a specific time frame. All projects have a beginning and an end. Projects must have a clear, definitive objective or solution. The solution is made of quantifiable and qualifiable deliverables that are produced by activities or tasks. It is the planning, coordination of the tasks and the resources and execution that is the focus of project management.

Key Characteristics of Projects

  • A project has a unique solution
  • A project has boundaries, so its extent is defined
  • A project is a one–time effort, usually requiring finite resources
  • There are distinct start and end dates for projects
  • You know when you have reached the end of the project (you have completed the solution)

What Is Project Management?

Project Management is the process of achieving project objectives (schedule, budget and performance) through a set of activities that start and end at certain points in time and produce quantifiable and qualifiable deliverables.

Successful project management is the art of understanding the requirements of the project, identifying the deliverables that produce the solution, assigning ownership of the deliverables, identifying the tasks to accomplish the deliverables, bringing together the resources and people necessary to accomplish the objectives within the specified time constraints and within budget.

What Is A Project Management Life Cycle?

All projects follow the same project management lifecycle, from Initiation through Close–out. It is during the life cycle of any project that proven and tested project management processes or best practices are applied by successful project managers. The types and extent of processes implemented depends on the nature of the project, i.e. size, probability of failure and consequences of failure to the organization or program that the project is supporting. Effective leaders implement an infrastructure for success…discipline that will help insure that the organization is protected.

Every project follows the same project life cycle

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution & Control
  • Close Out

Elements of Successful Project Management

There is no single process that makes a project successful. It is the careful orchestration of a number of different elements.

The factors that lead to successful projects include

  • Clearly defined goals and objectives
  • A well–defined project management process
  • A proven set of project management tools
  • A clear understanding of the role of project management

Project Roles and Responsibilities

In order to have a successful project, all project stakeholders must know and understand their role in the project. It is the project manager's responsibility to communicate these roles to the project stakeholders.

Project Manager

The project manager is responsible for managing the project's scope, schedule, and cost to support the sponsor's expectations for the successful completion of the project. Typical duties include:

  • Implementing an infrastructure of sound project management tools and techniques to help ensure success.
  • Managing the development of the communications plan, project charter, WBS, risk assessment and plans and detailed schedules.
  • Providing team leadership for problem resolution by working with the lowest organizational levels possible and escalating, as necessary.
  • Monitoring schedule and costs versus project progress to identify problems that could potentially extend the schedule or overrun costs and replanning the project as necessary to get back on track.
  • Taking, directing, or recommending corrective action when scope, schedule, or cost variances threaten the project.
  • Serving as the central point of contact for the project and communicating project status to the project sponsor and other stakeholders.
  • Providing input to the performance reviews of the project team members. Negotiating a resolution to team member resource conflicts with their functional managers.

Project Sponsor

The project sponsor should be a director or higher–level member of the department who is the largest stakeholder in the project or who will receive the greatest benefit by the project's successful completion. The sponsor assumes the overall responsibility for the entire project. The project sponsor will appoint a project manager to manage and control the project. The project sponsor may provide the project manager the expectations of the end product or results, the minimum success criteria, and the level of interface expected during the project life cycle. The project sponsor is responsible for the following:

  • Championing the project.
  • Maintaining enough involvement with the project to ensure that the desired outcome is attained.
  • Granting a sufficient level of authority to the project manager required for the project's success.
  • Providing or negotiating support when the project manager is unable to resolve problems at a lower level.
  • Providing ongoing performance feedback to the project manager as well as providing input to the project manager's performance review.

Project Team Members

The project team members are responsible for ensuring that their group's responsibilities are identified and accurately planned, resources are available to support the budget and schedule, accurate information is provided for project status, and the project manager is assisted in problem resolution.