When projects are major pieces of work undertaken over an extended period of time, it is important to manage them carefully. In many cases, managing a project means co-ordinating a number of different resources, including people from different departments or even from outside of the business. Project Management is all about managing these resources in order that the project is delivered
- To specification
- On time, and
- Within budget
Students should appreciate the importance of good project management to business success. It is easy to see the impact of failed project management in works such as the new Wembley Stadium:
- Damaged reputation which may hamper the ability to gain further work
- Dissatisfied customers
- Cost over-runs that lead to loss of profit
- Financial penalties paid to the customer
- Low morale amongst the workforce
- Damaged relationships with sub-contractors and other business partners
Good project management starts with good planning - the objectives of a project should be clear and would conform to the SMART model:
- Realistic, and
Planning tools would include Simultaneous Engineering (for product development) and Critical Path Analysis, for projects in general - see separate notes on both of these methods.
Projects do not always go according to plan and it is generally the case that when this happens, work takes more, rather than less time, than expected. Good project management recognises the internal and external factors that might throw a project off schedule. Monitoring progress carefully will help identify the likely impact of any delays so that action can be taken to get the project back on track.
Contingency planning means trying to identify possible sources of disruption to the project so that in the event of a problem, swift action can be taken. This may be as simple as having a back-up supplier for materials, or by building some ‘slack’ into the schedule. In the case of serious delays, this may mean making arrangements to manage the situation, such as happened with Wembley Stadium, when major matches have had to be hosted elsewhere.
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