Understanding Critical Practices in Project Management

Project Management involves the careful planning, organizing and managing activities to bring about the successful completion of a finite endeavor undertaken to meet goals and objectives. Effective Software Project Management lies in giving due importance to the four P’s: People, Product, Process and Project.

The people factor is so important that SEI [Software Engineering Institute] has developed a model, PM – CMM which stands for People Management Capability Maturity Model. This model defines key practices for software people to be followed in recruiting, management, training, compensation, career building etc. Organizations should realize that for all technology and process deliverables to fall into place a deft and skillful hand in allocation and management of human resources is a must.


Defining the Product’s objectives and scope is critical, before proceeding with other activities such as estimates of cost, risks, scheduling. The Process provides the framework from which planning is done in detail. The project manager must choose the appropriate process model based on the definition, development and support applicable to the software being developed.


The project planning starts off by the melding of product and process. The project must be organized in a manner that spells success for the team. There is a popular saying, ‘It is possible to plan and yet not manage effectively ...However, it is not possible to manage effectively without a plan’.


To manage the project successfully and to avoid problems, a five-part commonsense approach has been suggested by Reel [REE99]. Project Managers need to start off on the right foot by working hard to understand the project requirements and setting realistic goals for the resources and building the right team.


The Project Managers need to maintain momentum by providing incentives and giving due emphasis on quality. They should ensure to track progress from the work products produced at each stage and by collecting metrics to assess progress. They should make smart decisions and use the ‘keep it simple’ policy and avoid unnecessary risks.


A consistent process to conduct analysis on the learning’s from each project should be maintained and findings recorded. Barry Boehm [BOE96] suggests an approach called the W5HH Principle. This WWWWWHH principle has a series of questions like Why is the system being developed?, What will be done, by When ?, Who is responsible for a function ?


Where are they organizationally located ?, How will the job be done technically and managerially?, How much of each resource is needed ?. This principle is applicable regardless of the size or complexity of a project and the answers to these questions lead to preparation of an excellent planning outline for the project manager and team.


Similarly the Airline Council, a team of software engineering experts chartered by the U.S. Department of Defense to help develop guidelines for best practices in software project management have developed a set of ‘Quick look’ questions [AIR99] for a project. The practices associated with Project Integrity are related to formal risk management, empirical cost and schedule estimation, metric-based project management, earned Value tracking, defect tracking against quality targets and people-aware program management.


Critical Chan Project Management (CCPM) is another effective method of project management that emphasizes on the resource planning. It was developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and in contrast to the traditional Critical Path method (CPM) and PERT which gives emphasis on rigid scheduling this method will keep resources levelly loaded but more flexible in their start times and switching of tasks activities. This technique uses buffer management and is believed to get projects completed more quickly and with greater scheduling reliability.


The Project Status report which gives the progress of a project and resource utilization is a critical monitoring tool. The report gives a summary of the project status with highlights in red, amber and green for denoting high risk, reasonable risk and no problems. It encompasses information on budget, scope, resource, schedule etc.


The above critical practices outlines suggested, are ways that can help the problem of time and cost overruns in project implementation to soon be overcome. The payoff will be higher probability of customer satisfaction.

| An insight into coordination and communication issues in Project Management | An Insight into Project Closure Activities | An Insight into Risk Breakdown Structure | An Insight into Work Breakdown Structure | Overview of Resource Management Techniques | Project Management Tools (PERT, Gantt, Run Charts) | Project Manager’s Perspective on Document Management System | Understanding Critical Practices in Project Management |

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