At Tallard Management, we have a wealth of experience to share with commercial project management. What is project management, though and how are the functions of project management best defined? Read on to find out more about the tools needed today to run a successful project in business. Firstly, however, it will be useful to define project management’s meaning in a commercial context.
Defining Project Management
In business, project management is best defined as using specific knowledge, skills and tools to deliver something of value to the organisation. Usually, project management involves a project of limited scope outside or a company’s usual activities, such as designing something new for a client, initiating a report or organising a relocation, for example. Consequently, a particular skillset will often be required, meaning a project manager with the necessary skills is brought on board to manage the process. This is exactly the sort of service we offer at Tallard Management, both in terms of project management techniques and business strategy definition.
Process-Based Project Management
Now that project management has been defined, it will be beneficial to look closer at project methodology. With process-based project management, there a five discernible steps or phases that will help guide the project to fruition.
1. Initiating a Project in a Company
Before any project is embarked upon within a business, it needs to be considered carefully. It is at this initial stage of planning that a decision will need to be taken about whether to go forward with the project at all. As such, a key part of how to manage a project successfully is deciding whether or not it is in the commercial interests of a business to proceed. Indeed, there may be many different project proposals on the table to compare against one another. Initiating the right ones and rejecting those that won’t offer so much value – or that represent too much risk – is an important part of the overall strategy involved in modern project management.
Assuming a project will be initiated, it should also have its scope defined during the first phase. This is to help ensure that the project manager or project delivery team stay on track and within the project’s remit. Many business decision-makers will consider this part of the process to be a high-level overview in which the commercial strategy of the project is defined.
2. The Project Planning Phase
The second step with process-based project management is to plan the project more fully. With the scope of the project already defined, this phase will go into much greater detail about how the project is expected to run. For example, a plan will be drawn up about who will manage the project, where the project will be run from, and how oversight will be maintained. Key milestones in the project’s delivery will also be defined, especially important in multi-phase projects that will require handovers between personnel at given points.
The project planning phase will also set out dates and deadlines for the delivery of the project. Contingencies may also be built-in at this time. These might be for both delays that might occur or potential overspend. Some of the planning will inevitably come down to estimating what will be needed, but the project plan should always lay out clearly what the expected deliverables will be. It is these to which the project management team will be working toward, after all.
3. Executing a Project – Making the Project Work
After the planning phase, the next job is to start making the plan a reality. The project delivery team will work within the confines of their given remit and provide feedback to senior managers in the company at the agreed frequency so that the progress of the project can be determined at a high level. Executing a project, from a project manager’s perspective, is all about managing day to day workflows so that the project stays on track without becoming bogged down in just one or two processes. Good project managers identify blockages and deal with them with appropriate corrective actions where necessary. If a change to the plan is required, then this should be reported back as early as possible in the execution phase.
4. Monitoring Project Development
The monitoring phase of a commercial project should run concurrently with the execution phase. In other words, the outcome of key performance indicators (KPIs) and other performance data should not be looked at only after the project is coming to an end but throughout its delivery. Ideally, the frequency of reporting within the project execution phase will have been laid out clearly in the planning phase.
These days, there is a raft of software tools available that help project managers to keep a close eye on the activities of their team as project management workflows are followed. In turn, these allow senior managers to monitor the progress of the project with a straightforward overview of the current situation on any given day without having to necessarily get involved with the finer details. Project monitoring should always allow all stakeholders to easily grasp where the project is at any moment and compare that to where it was expected to be at that time according to the project’s plan.
5. Closing a Project Successfully
The final phase in process-led project methodology is to finalise the project itself. This should mean that the project has been successfully delivered, of course, both according to the remit set out in the plan as well as the various metrics that have been used in the monitoring phase. Very often, successful project management will mean that the delivery team hand the project over. This could be to the client who requested it in the first place or to a division within the same company that will now take it forward. This may involve finalising the process with the sign-off of contracts or formal business agreements. One of the key functions of project management in the final phase is to assess and audit what went well and what did not so that future projects can be delivered more successfully down the line.
Gain a Clearer Understanding of Project Management Principles
Understanding how to manage a project with a process-led set of steps is one thing. However, most businesses still need particular skills that can be adapted to their sector as well as the current market conditions to deliver projects. This is why hiring a project manager with the relevant know-how and experience is so important. At Tallard Management, we are well-versed in all the functions of project management in use today and can assist in all five phases of project delivery as outlined above. Without our expertise, projects can significantly overrun, focus on the wrong things, fail to achieve all of the deliverables or even cause overspending.