Success Factors In Project Management

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Success Factors In Project Management

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Success Factors In Project Management

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Project management can be described as the process of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a group to attain specific objectives and meet a particular success criterion.  A project is a temporary undertaking with the mandate of coming up with a unique product, service or result with a predefined beginning and the end. It is proper to take note that projects are usually time and finance constrained, and mostly projects are undertaken to meet certain goals and objectives (Portney & Kramer, 2008).
One of the fundamental challenges with project management is to attain the entire project goals within particular constraints. The information pertaining to projects deliverables to be undertaken, are described in the user or project manual, which is a guideline developed at the onset of the projects development process. Some of the primary constraints in any project management initiative are scope, time, quality, and budget, while the secondary and also more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation of essential inputs and incorporate them to meet pre-defined objectives.
Organizations should find different ways of making projects successful, because, if a project is unsuccessful there is a tendency for lack of funding in future projects. Success requires that the project manager or the administrator should be properly versed with the task ahead, which could entail consulting widely from organizations that have undertaken similar projects. Such consultation may entail reviewing case studies through trips to overseas destination, or they involve collaborating with certain industries or even the academic community. 
Literature Review
Project Management Plan
A project management plan is an imperative tool for the project manager to deliver projects successfully for the organization. The plan is a strategic outline that assists in describing a projects deliverables and how each deliverable is to be executed, monitored, and controlled, whereby these processes entail coming up with a project work breakdown structure, identifying and planning to minimize on risk, and at the same time identifying how to communicate with different stakeholders.
A project management plan varies based on a projects size, complexity, risk, or even the sensitivity of the project. Therefore, any approach towards implementing a successful project management plan entails nurturing competencies in different project management areas, which is also inherently critical towards the success of any project.
In general, a project is a unique, transient endeavor that is undertaken to accomplish certain planned objectives that can be defined in terms of output, outcome, or benefit. Projects are considered successful if the deliverables attain the objectives according to prescribed criteria, within a particular timeframe and budget (Burke, 1999). Such a success is elaborated in the diagram tree below.
Fig 1.0 Diagram depicting the success factors towards any project outcome
Some of the essential ingredients of project management are:

Defining the reasons why the project is important
Determining project requirements, stipulating the quality of deliverables, and ascertaining the required resourced and timescales that deliverables will take to accomplish
Developing business case to justify the underlying investment
Establishing business agreement and securing funding or rather capital
Establishing a management plan that will guide the project
Mitigating on risks and other challenges that may bedevil the project
Monitoring the projects progress against the laid plan
Managing the projects budget
Maintaining consistence communication with different stakeholders and the project owners
Closing and finalizing the project after all the deliverables have been met

When to use Project management
Projects should always be separated with conventional business operations, or rather the usual business activities. Projects, in particular high value assignments, requires dedicated workforce to team up together to focus on specific project objectives. Therefore, effective collaboration amongst employees is paramount towards any successful project deliverables. Project management entails managing discrete modules of work to attain certain objectives, and the manner in which any job is handled is widely dependent upon myriad of factors.
During any project management initiative, the scale, significance, and complexity of the task in hand, are obvious factors. For instance, relocating a small office, or organizing a complex project such as the Olympics or world cup, share quite a number of basic principles, but at the same time presents quite a number of managerial challenges. However, an excellent distinguishing factor is regularly to dwell on the nature of the different objectives.
Objectives can be expressed in terms of output, and this may include building new headquarters involving staff being relocated from different locations to the new headquarters. Some of the benefits of initiating such a project include reduced travel expenditure, or strategic objectives such as such as reducing the organizations operations expenditure that could have been used to paid rent.
Why Organizations use Project Management
Prudent investment in effective project management comes with several benefits to both the host organization and the personnel involved with the project deliverables. Proactive project management strategies ensure that:

Increased likelihood of achieving desired project results
Efficiency and increased utilization of resources
Satisfying different stakeholders needs.

Project Management Processes
It entails different intricacies whereby several processes and personnel are required for a successful and timely project to be completed.  Some of the widely used project management processes entail:
There is where planning is usually planned during the onset of any project. It is therefore advisable to ensure persistent monitoring so that project is on schedule and within the budget. The resources required should be readily available together with the expected benefits to be delivered. A project manager should always estimate the deadlines and requisite milestones to ensure a projects success.
Each project undertaken comes with myriad of challenges and the project manager should always find different manners to handle such complexities in delivering project deliverables. This is also considered a risk management section.
Enhanced communication is one of the factors crucial towards any projects success. Prevalent problems are easier to avoid if there s open and honest communication throughout all the stakeholders involved in delivering the project. The communication can be written, verbal, or both.
People Management
Project manager is the personnel who is in charge of managing the team working on the project in question, as well as the tasks and risks involved. However, in large scale, or complex projects, there exist isolated levels of people management, but the project manager holds responsibilities for individuals working on assignments, this includes motivating the workforce and even delivering constructive feedback. 
Project management Phases
This is considered among the first steps in the project, and it is during this particular instance the business case is defined and justification for the project that will all be used to benchmark on the projects timeliness. The initiation phase also states what the proposed project is intended to achieve, how the milestones will be achieved, and the scope of work involved. The described process is quite important to control subsequent change request, and this is also the phases where the team members are assigned their day to day responsibilities.
The requirement documentation specifies the scope of the project including the timescales and constraints involved. The requirement documentation also establishes some of the criteria that defines a successful project, and therefore can be applied as a benchmark to manage expectations from different stakeholders. Most of the projects apply iterative processes to establish agreement on the requirements, even though there are certain projects that assume an agile approach towards project management.
The plan entail a detailed account on how each project is going to be carried out on a step by step basis, and this includes the monitoring, control, and how communication is facilitated among the different parties involved. However, once a project has been launched, it is mostly on the project’s schedule where most attention is focused on.
The tasks should be prioritized according to their urgency and tasks comprising of interdependencies should be completed the earliest time possible to enable dependent tasks to be performed in parallel. There exists quite a number of project management tools that can be applied, and one of the most popular amongst the available instruments is the Gantt Chart.
The individuals mandated with implementing the tasks, must have detailed information pertaining to the project dependencies and timescales, and these very individuals should also understand criterion necessary whereby a task is deemed to be complete.
Immediately there is an approved end product, the project can be formally closed, and reviews can therefore be conducted to learn on the successes and failure of the project, and mistakes and success stories that can be replicated on the next project to make it more successful (Lock, 2007).
Using Gantt Charts in Project Management
A Gantt chart is considered an indispensable tool in project management due to its knack to envision the timeline of a particular project together with the requisite resources for a project completion. Due to the popularity of the Gantt chart, its representation is now visible in different project management computer applications such as MS Excel and MS Project. Some of the primary reasons as to why Gantt chart is imperative in any project are that (Lientz, et al, 1999):
Brainstorming the Workflow
They replicate the mind maps and can therefore be applied as the starting point in planning for any project. A Gantt chart enables planners to lay down the ideas in a single spot to have an excellent overview of all the deliverables to be accomplished. It also comes with a timeline that enables the laying down of milestones, deliverables and individuals tasks that make up the completion of key steps or the entire project, and at the same time provides an estimate of how long certain tasks are likely to take.
Project can be fragmented
With a Gantt chart it is possible to break down a project into different modules, that makes it easier to monitor progress on each individual tasks rather than waiting to complete the entire project only to realize that there were several mistakes that were encountered but were never realized until the project was finalized. Some of these tasks include; issuing a press release, organizing the slide deck, inviting the press, providing regular updates to the public through media if it is a government project, or even delegating responsibilities. Such segmentation of tasks is known to enhance team morale and at the same time motivate further progress on the project.
Setting Accurate Deadlines
With such an indispensable tool it is possible to directly schedule or reschedule tasks affecting any project on the Gantt chart. With such a strategy in place, it is possible to view how any changes is likely to affect the timing of the entire project, and this means enhanced planning and accurate deadlines.
Defining Dependencies
This is simply establishing tasks that depend on other tasks before they are started or completed. It is possible to view tasks that are likely to hold the project further from completion, and with such information at hand, a project manager is able to initiate strategic action to have all the micro-tasks ready before the entire project is launched full steam.
Monitoring of the progress
With a Gantt chart it is possible to track the live progress of a particular project and this also includes the micro-tasks prevalent with common complex projects. Through watching the Gantt chart closely, it becomes possible to determine the time frame of the entire project and to issue valid reports to the stakeholders on how a particular project is progressing. 
Using Key Personnel in a Project
One of the most indispensable resources that a project manager is likely to work with is the human capital. People through their individual actions and day to day interactions can largely influence a projects outcome. Therefore the main question that lingers a project manager’s mind is how to nurture a human resource action plan for a particular project. To begin with, the most straight forward approach is to organize how the workforce will contribute to the project. The personnel’s roles and responsibility is considered to be the first step for a project charter.
The second step entails coming up with an organizational chart that spells out who reports to whom, and this particular chart resembles an organizational hierarchical ladder. If a particular individual happens to be assigned the role of overseeing the project, he/she is therefore the defacto project manager/leader, and he/she will be at the top of the project organization chart, therefore responsible for the successes and failure of the tasks assigned.
However, it is proper to take note that there are differences on the ways of influencing employees, and therefore a project manager may wield limited or no influence over professional incentives for members of a particular project, and the incentives may include promotions or salary reviews. Moreover, a project manager can find himself in an awkward position whereby he/she has no any say in the overtime commitment of workers in the project that they are handling. This is contrary to the advocacy of different project charters that encourages issues to be laid out for and signed off on by the management and sponsors in an entity.
However, such an agony can be overcome through establishing a role and responsibility matrix and a project organization chart that enables the entire project to instill detailed personnel assignments in relation to personnel required to complete specific tasks within particular time frames. A project plan involves such information through a work breakdown structure, and it is common to find out during later parts of the project that certain personnel do not possess requisite skills desired to attain considerable project outcome. To address such a shortfall, a project manager can hire experts on a temporary basis, and in the process it is prudent to outline the necessary education, skills, and experience that are in tandem with roles and responsibilities of the projects objectives.
Immediately, the tasks and timing have been spelt out, the workforce can be optimized through tools that auger on resource loading and resource leveling. Resource loading is basically the number of man hours that will be injected towards particular projects. In a real life scenario, each employee working for a particular project is expected to devote 100 percent of their energy during their shifts. It is common for employees to be over-allocated tasks, but a good and efficient project manager should first consider how overworking an employee is likely to impact on the overall projects outcome. It is also detrimental in a number of ways when an employee is under-allocated, because such a scenario represents undesired effects on hours work and the corresponding paycheck.
One of the strategies employed by personnel allocation is resource leveling, and it entails conflicts with resources by altering the work schedules. Through enabling the workforce to perform tasks on later or earlier dates, project managers are able to take measures towards leveling the employee performance at 100 percent allocation. However, it is proper to take note that most tasks in complex projects are interdependent with one another and therefore cannot be moved randomly without affecting the project schedule.
Key Success factors for Project Managers
Policies and Procedures
Before employing any staff as part of the project workforce it is important to acquaint yourself with the policies and procedures. Informed project managers are always familiar with different human resource concerns such as talent acquisition, retention, and termination (Kerzner & Saladis, 2009). Since most projects, are considered to be temporary activities, it is vital that project managers should fully understand the scope of work involved so that they are able to plan ahead.
The members of staff should be fully committed with a projects desirable outcome, whereby such obligations entail undertaking responsibilities or even spending extra hours while working, to change the course of the organization. The extent towards where the project administrator is able to motivate the workforce depends on the projects manager ability to encourage the staff’s perception towards a particular project.
It can easily be achieved by enabling employees appreciate their value to the organization undertaking the project. Encouragement can be shown through a pat on the back, increasing allowance, promotions, or even issuing gifts.
Importance of Key Personnel in Project Management
To properly secure funding for any project and at the same time deal with conflicts of interest to ensure the success of the project, the project manager should include key personnel in project definition charter document and also to keep these parts of the workforce informed on what is happening during the entire projects implementation.
Generally projects involve key personalities who play an active role in developing and executing project. Such a contribution should be measurable through different metrics (Athayde et al., 2007). Besides, no project can be successful without key personnel involved, and the level of involvement is largely dependent upon scope, scale, and the type of project being undertaken.
Some of the personnel vital towards the success of any project include:
Team Members: This group includes the manager, team members, accountants, training coordinator and other members who are involved from the planning through the execution stage before final completion. The team may also involve vendors supplying different materials for the project.
Executive Sponsors: These are the people responsible for securing the finances, and these individuals also wield spending authority for any tasks.
Project Director: These are the top decision makers who must be notified of the projects progress in relation to the previous set goals and objectives. The director always participate in high level project planning, and may from time to time assist wherever major problems or obstacles are encountered. Therefore such a position is paramount towards a particular projects success.
Steering Committee: This committee is mandated with managing representatives from key entities involved in the project as well as stakeholders who may be having interest with the projects outcome. The steering committee assists in funding, providing resources, or may even fulfill other roles provided to them.
Customers: These are individuals with the interest of the product or service being developed because they are likely to be having interests with the developments of the project in question. This particular group may involve the decision makers or just mere representatives.
Stakeholders: These are people at the center of the project and it may include the customers, steering committee, project team, and the sponsors who are deeply part of the project being undertaken. 
As we have seen from the literature above, Project management is a very complicated task. For an effective project management to be realized there must be proper planning during the onset of the project. One key strategy, to attain proper planning is to appoint a qualified project manager, who will be mandated to overlook the scope of the project before creating deliverables.
The project manager will therefore understand the scope of work involved, and it is through such an understanding that it becomes possible to identify requisite skills from key personnel. The project manager, will then proceed and lay down a framework, and this includes having a hiring policy, so that he can acquire subordinates who can assist him recruit talented workforce in relation to the project requirements. After hiring the subordinates, a charter plan can be developed to assist in implementing different project deliverables.
The project deliverables can therefore be broken down into several interrelated and interdependence tasks, so that critical tasks can be solved before the project continues. These deliverables and tasks can be persistently monitored through proactive tools such as the Gantt chart which is also one of the widely consulted project monitoring tools having existed since the beginning of the 19 century.
If the right employees are identified, and the deliverables are properly matched with ideal timelines, then the project is likely to be a success story that can be replicated in other similar projects whether locally or internationally.  
Works Cited
Athayde, W.P., Crawford, D.B., Elswick, R. and Lombard, P., 2007. Project management essentials. Havertown, Penn.: Center for Business Practices.
Burke, R., 1999. Project management: planning and control techniques. Chichester, England: J. Wiley.
Kerzner, H. and Saladis, F.P., 2009. Value-driven project management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Lock, D., 2007. The essentials of project management. Aldershot, England: Gower.
Portny, S.E. and Kramer, B.E., 2008. Project management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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