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Project Management 101: An Introduction

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What’s the difference between Management and Project Management? Even though the same management principles of Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling apply to Project Management, the focus is quite different.

Definition

What’s a project? A project is defined as a temporal effort in order to create a product, service or unique result. If we want to be more specific, we can say that:

An Effort is the application of organized resources
Temporal means it has to conclude and evolves with time
Project Management is then, the Administration of the People, Knowledge, Skills, Tools and Techniques (resources) in order to accomplish a Project in time, so it can fulfill the needs of the project.

An art or an engineering process?

Although people may think that Project Management is an art, Project Management resembles more an Engineering process. That doesn’t mean that all Project Managers have to be Engineers, but that they should be aware of all the knowledge that involves such activity.

This knowledge was defined by the PMI (Project Management Institute) in a document called PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge). This document has all the required and necessary steps for successfully managing a Project, and the most common book that describes this document is A Guide to the PMBOK, available in multiple languages and probable in your favorite book shop.

A Guide to the PMBOK describes the knowledge required in 9 different management areas:

Integration: Describes the necessary processes in order to guarantee the coordination of the different elements that involve the project. Usually involves a Project Plan and Change Management Plan.
Communication: How do you get, distribute, store, recover and delete information of the project. This is usually covered through a Communications Plan.
Scope: Involves the definition of all the deliverables and components of the Project in order to be successful. This document (Project’s Scope) is strongly related to the Project Plan, but also describes the Maturity and Complexity of the project.
Time: Pretty much inside the Project Plan, it describes the critical path of the Project, as well as the sequence of the tasks, the duration of the tasks and the control of changes to it.
Cost: How to assign, use and distribute the resources of the Project. Usually an activity done previous to the execution of the Project, it will require the estimation of the Project’s Cost.
Quality: Quality is a measure in which a product satisfies the need of the customer/client. A Quality Plan that defines all the processes and standards required for the product is defined during the Project execution, which involves constant audits to both the processes and outputs of being said processes.
Human Resources: The organization and administration of the team members involved in the project; responsibilities, information, roles and tasks of each member has to be described in a specific document and updated during the progress of the Project.
Risk: A Risk Plan should be part of any project; this document helps identifying risks and describes the measures to be taken against them.
Procurement: Depending on the nature of the project, Procurement may or not happen; the action of acquiring materials or recruiting staff has to be defined before the execution of the project.
Any Project Manager should be aware of each of these areas of knowledge, even though many projects won’t require full use of them. Each project is different and should be adapted to the areas, not the other way around.

This article describes the basics of Project Management, a definition, and the knowledge areas according the Project Management Institute. If this article is considered helpful, I will think about going indepth in each area. Please post a comment if you would like to see more.

Source material: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: (Pmbok Guide)
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