Wikipedia defines Project Management as “the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.”
How to ‘meet specific success criteria at the specified time’?
That is exactly why PMI and AACE and WRENCH exist. PMI and AACE teach us what to do and how to do it, on paper, and WRENCH helps us actually do it in real life. In other words, what human ingenuity and knowledge help us plan, technology helps us deliver.
But let’s start at the beginning.
What is a project?
- Projects are temporary endeavours
- Produces unique products or services as output
Projects are temporary in nature. That means, every project has a definite start date and end date. After the completion of the project, the team is dispersed.
Projects deliver Unique products or services as an output. Developing a new online course is a project. Designing a new car is a project. Manufacturing cars in large numbers does not fall in the category of projects as the output is not unique. Manufacturing cars falls under operations.
Projects drive change. Projects helps organizations to achieve their business goal, which is a movement from one state to another. Projects enable business value creation. Projects are initiated due to these four factors;
- To meet statutory, legal or social requirements. (New labour law can trigger a new payroll system. A new tax pattern also can trigger changes in the accounting procedures.
- To satisfy stakeholder requests or needs (need for faster internet, need for online training programs, need for cheaper transportation)
- Implement or change business or technological strategies (digital marketing strategy, online business strategy)
- Create, Improve or fix products, processes or services (Faster mobile connectivity, Reduction in traffic jams, Improving safety)
Portfolio, Program, Projects harmony
Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements (PMBOK)
A program is a collection of inter-related projects, which when done together gives more value / benefits, than doing them one after the other. A program is a collection of related sub-programs, projects, sub-projects that are managed as a program in a coordinated way through program management, performed by program managers.
Program – Reduce traffic jams managed by Program manager. Comprises of multiple related projects. Each of these component projects are managed by Project managers. These project managers report to the program manager.
Organizations have business goals to accomplish. Organizational strategies support the accomplishment of these business goals. Organizational strategies are implemented through programs, projects and other work. A project portfolio is a collection of projects, programs, sub-programs and other work which constitute the portfolio. Project portfolios are always linked to the accomplishment of organizational goals, and they are managed by Portfolio managers.
Portfolio management is the centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives, performed by portfolio managers. While the programs have inter-related projects, the programs, sub-programs and projects within a portfolio need not be inter-related. For example, in my project portfolio, I have PMP online and PMI-ACP online and they are inter-related and at the same time they are part of my organizational strategy to accomplish my business goals.
Portfolio management comprises of;
- Choosing the best projects in terms of return on investment (ROI), Payback period which are in true alignment to the organizational strategy for growth.
- Maintaining the alignment of the organizational strategy and the projects by overseeing the execution of these projects / programs at a higher level and at the same time monitoring their alignment to the organizational strategy (which can change during project execution time, hence re-alignment may be required)
- Post implementation monitoring the actual benefits Vs benefits forecast at the time of project selection.
Operations management relates to the ongoing production of goods or services.
Portfolios aligns the programs, sub-programs and standalone projects with the business strategy, thus achieving better effectiveness.
Program management optimizes the planning and execution of the program components thus bringing better efficiency.
Project management ensures successful completion of the projects within the agreed upon time, cost and scope.
Together, portfolio, program, and project management working in harmony result in successful business outcomes.
(This is a huge subject, and, in this post, I just scratched the surface of a few macro-level fundamentals, but I hope it was helpful in some small way.)
See you soon!
Abrachan Pudussery is domain expert in Project Management area and a seasoned trainer. He heads the Wrench Academy, and brings in deep domain expertise and a conviction about higher quality in project management training.
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