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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chapter 2: Introduction to Projects

Well, I am very excited to start writing this series of articles to help us prepare for the PMP Certification. We will be taking small steps one after the other and slowly reach our goal of the PMP certification. This is the first step in our pursuit.

So, lets get started!!!

What is a Project?

Anything and everything around us can be considered a project. For ex: building a nice home for you and your family is a project, same is the case if a government is trying to build a big power plant in your city. Irrespective of the size or the amount of money involved, both of them are projects.

What is common between these 2 examples? Your house and a power plant? Both involve, people, money and time. They both have a start and end and most importantly someone has to supervise the whole way to ensure that the project proceeds as planned and is completed on time and within budget.

The important point to note here is – someone has to supervise the whole way!!!

Yes, you read it right, any project has to be managed and controlled by an expert if it has to be a success. Failing which, the project will most probably be a failure.

Exam Trivia:
Miracles do happen. But, in terms of the PMP Exam, Miracles are like the UFOs. Everyone has a doubt, but no one will risk their life to prove their existence. Similarly, there might be a rare case where an ill managed project becomes successful, our goal is to manage a project properly and as per the guidelines laid down by the PMI Institute to ensure that the project we are managing is a Success.

Before we proceed any further, let me give you the technical definition of what a project is:

A project is a work effort made over a finite period of time with a start and a finish to create a unique product, service, or result. Because a project has a start and an end, it is also called a temporary effort or endeavor

The definition is simple, isnt it? Now recollect, building your house is a project. You start it with a Grihapravesham (The Initial Pooja’s you do before beginning the construction), then you identify a builder, start buying raw materials like cement, steel, bricks etc, and go step by step and at the end of 9 months, voila your new and beautiful house is ready.

Since, you will no longer be building your house after 9 months, it is a temporary Endeavour and has a finite end at the end of construction.

Now I guess you understand the definition :-)

What is meant by Managing a Project?

Managing a project means managing the lifecycle of the project, starting from the beginning (initiating) and going to the end (closing); this is accomplished using processes, which constitute what are called project management knowledge areas. Although you use your knowledge in terms of processes to manage the projects, the management will be greatly influenced by the environment in which the project runs, such as the structure and culture of the performing organization.

If you want a quick synopsis of the various stages in the life of Managing a Project, just go back to the previous chapter and read it…

Terms you need to understand to begin your preparation:

Well, we have started our preparation for the PMP Exam. In the course of this and subsequent articles, we will be using various important terms. Each has a meaning and purpose. Now, let us go through each of them one by one.

Exam Trivia:
All these terms are simple and very important. You need to understand them in order to make sense of the subsequent topics. So pay attention!!!

An organization is a group of individuals organized to work for some purpose or mission. Computer companies, telephone companies (to whom you pay your phone bills), and cable companies are examples of organizations. An organization might offer products, such as books, or services, such as Internet access or online banking. A project is usually performed inside an organization. Organization is a very broad concept that includes groups for profit and nonprofit, public and private, and government and nongovernment.
Project stakeholder
A project stakeholder is an individual or an organization that can be positively or negatively affected by the project execution. A project can have a wide array of stakeholders, like the project sponsor, the customer for whom you are executing the project, the end user who is going to use the system etc.
A process is a set of related tasks performed to manage a certain aspect of a project, such as cost or quality. Each process belongs to a knowledge area and corresponds to a process group. There are a bunch of set guidelines that can help you achieve a goal and they are usually termed as processes.
Knowledge area
A knowledge area in project management is defined by its knowledge requirements related to managing a specific aspect of a project, such as cost, by using a set of processes. PMI recognizes a total of nine knowledge areas, such as cost management, human resource management etc.
Performing organization
The performing organization is the organization that is performing the project.
Project management
Project management is the usage of knowledge, skills, and tools to manage a project from start to finish with the goal of meeting the project requirements. It involves using the appropriate processes. Remember the Supervisor who is going to oversee your house construction
A program is a set of related projects managed in a coordinated fashion to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness and to obtain benefits and control that would not be obtained by managing them individually. For example, a program could be delivering a product (or service) that consists of sub-products (or service components) delivered by the constituent projects. Also, a program might include related work that is not included in the scope of any of the constituent projects.
Program management
Program management is the centralized, coordinated management of a specific program to achieve its strategic goals, objectives, and benefits.
Program management office (PMO)
The program management office is an entity in an organization that is responsible for providing centralized, coordinated support to the program managers managing programs and unrelated projects.
Project management office
Project management office (PMO) refers to an entity in an organization that is responsible for providing centralized coordinated management and support for projects in the organization.

Exam Trivia:
Although both have the same abbreviation, PMO, the project management office and program management office are not identical. For example, only an organization that runs programs will have a program management office, whereas an organization that runs individual projects can have a project management office.

What is a Portfolio:

A portfolio is a set of projects, programs, and related work that is managed in a coordinated fashion to obtain business objectives in the strategic plan of the organization.
Portfolio management is the centralized management of one or more portfolios that includes identifying, authorizing, prioritizing, managing, and controlling projects, programs, and other related work in order to obtain specific business objectives in the strategic plan of the organization.

Now that we know the key terms that are required to continue our preparation, lets move on to the next topic…

Previous: Main parts in Managing a Project

Next: Understanding Projects

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