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Chapter 1 – The Project Check

Part 3

Summary

Now, that you are familiar with the fundamental basics of project management, here is what you need to know:

Technical term Definition
Project Undertaking, that is essentially characterised by the uniqueness of the conditions in their entirety.
Project check Points out the differences between a routine task and a project.
(You should be able to name the different project criteria and perform a project check!)
Investment projects Fixed assets are built or produced.
Organisational projects Structures for managing development and processes are created or changed.
Research and development projects Acquisition of new knowledge/skills or improvement of the product (condition, function, design quality, efficiency).
Internal projects Project initiator is from inside own company, but project budget can also be allocated by externals.
Usually, no formal contract is concluded.
External projects So called “commissioned projects”, customer isn't part of the project-realising company.
Both parties conclude a contract, which forms the project foundation.

It is essential to know these technical terms by heart. It should be obvious that a project manager needs to understand a certain vocabulary in order to contextualise new acquired knowledge, to engage in professional-level debates or to comprehend subject-specific literature.

To keep it simple

These technical terms will be summarised at the end of each chapter, so you can tell at a glance what is most important.

Let’s practice – transfer project

Now it’s time to get familiar with your project, which accompanies you on your way to the Cert. Junior Project Manager (IAPM).

You’re happy about your new challenging job – but you’re also a bit nervous. Maybe you ask yourself, where to start? And how? Don’t panic! Simply follow the previously introduced methods step by step and you will see, that it isn’t that difficult.

As you know now, without a proper scope, you can't plan a project. So it’s time to introduce you to your project's framework conditions. Here is what your best friend told you:

"I want it to be the best day in our lives, so don’t spare no effort! The wedding should take place in three months. I know that there is a great location just around the corner which would be perfect for the evening activities, but it only offers space for about 100 guests. Please make sure that our budget of 55.000 CHF is not exceeded – there should be some money left for our honeymoon."

Let’s do the project check!

Is your given task a project by definition?

By answering the following questions, you gain a good overview of the project. It isn’t always possible to answer all questions, but the checklist does show you what actions are necessary in which areas.

Objective definition before work commences?

  1. What will the project deliverable be?
  2. How long do you need to deliver it? Are there any time constraints?
  3. How much will it cost? Are there any financial constraints?

Solution

  1. Your goal: Organising a wedding.
  2. Time constraints: 3 months from now on.
  3. Financial constraints: max. 55.000 CHF e.g. more rent, special expenses.

Limited resources?

  1. Which human resources, machines, equipment etc. can you only use to a limited extent in the project?
  2. When will you need these resources?
  3. What do you have to expend?

Solution

  1. There is limited space at the venue, maybe not enough waiters are present, etc.
  2. Restaurant is needed for the event, for preparing beforehand and so on.
  3. Pay rent for the location; if you need it a few days in advance, you have to pay more rent.

Interdisciplinarity?

  1. What expertise do the project team members need?
  2. What qualifications should they have?
  3. Do they come from different departments, divisions, companies, cultures?

Solution

  1. Expertise in finance, decorating, cooking, etc.
  2. E.g. for the invitations: photoshop skills.
  3. Probably from different families, circles of friends.

Defined start and finish?

  1. When can you start formulating the objectives for a specific project contract?
  2. When will you have finished planning the project and setting up the organisational structures?
  3. When will the project deliverable be finished?
  4. When will you be able to assess how much the project has actually cost?
  5. When will you have documented the knowledge gained in the project and made it available to your company?

Solution

The answers depend on your own time management.
But: Start and finish are (in this case) defined, so you know when to "deliver" - after three months.

Defined responsibilities?

  1. Who is the customer?
  2. Who is providing the necessary funding?
  3. Can some aspects of the project be grouped or delegated in sub-projects or work packages?

Solution

  1. Probably the future married couple.
  2. Your friend.
  3. E.g. sub-project: "Dinner selection" delegated to the chef.

Novel undertaking?

  1. Can you use knowledge gained in similar projects?
  2. Can some of the work processes be derived from routine activities?

Solution

  1. Maybe you have been to other weddings before? What went well/wrong?
  2. Sub-project "Dinner selection": cooking is routine for the chef.
Keep in mind: Even though it’s not the world's first wedding that is organised, but still it’s a "new" undertaking – maybe there are different guests, different locations, different dates, requirements etc.

Complex undertaking?

  1. Why is the undertaking complex?
  2. Are people working on it at different locations? Do they all speak the same language?
  3. Do they understand each other? Are there coordination problems, e.g. because different technical terminology is being used?

Solution

  1. Your project isn’t internationally aimed, but it’s complex due to different variables.
  2. Maybe some of the guests are living in different countries? Or the live band, selected for entertainment, has to be flown in.
  3. Your finance experts (e.g. your friend) could have another point of view as your photoshop specialists (e.g. your cousin).

Keep in mind: There could be some communication problems.

Test yourself!

Now it is time to check your knowledge.

Answer the following questions for yourself. Please take your time and think carefully about what you would answer before revealing the solution.

What is a project? What characteristics does it have?

According to this definition, a project is an undertaking that is essentially characterised by a unique set of conditions, such as - objectives, - constraints of time, finance, human resources and so on, - differentiation from other undertakings, - project-specific organisation

How is a project differentiated from routine tasks in an organisation?

Every organisation must make its own decisions regarding which non-routine undertakings are classified as projects.

Decision criteria might include contract value, the planned budget or the projected duration of the activity.

Project management costs should therefore be in proportion to the ensuing practical benefits and the size of the project.

What is project management?

Project management is the application of all management functions, structures, techniques and resources for the purposes of implementing a project.

It is a concept of systematic procedures and non-standard processes which involves directing the various separate activities in a project with a view on the achievement of the overall project objectives.

How can a project be classified? Name the different characteristics!

External projects

External project sponsors are persons or institutions outside the organisation implementing the project.

Internal projects

With internal projects, the project sponsor is a person or an entity within the organisation implementing the project.

Investment, organisational and R&D projects