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Project Management

Project Management

Author: Jeff Carroll

Distinguish between the characteristics of projects and operations.

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Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff. And this is an introduction to Project Management. In this lesson, we'll discuss what a project is. We'll compare projects to operations. And we'll begin to learn what a project manager does and how it relates to program management.

The management of the project involves a variety of skills and we'll discuss these over the length of this course, including project planning, the management of resources, and how to lead a team. Along the way, I hope you begin to understand how project management can be used in a wide variety of industries. And perhaps more importantly, how it can be used in other areas of your life.

The same methods that are used to manage the design of airplanes can also be used to remodel a house, plan a wedding, or learn a new language. All of these can be the results of a well-managed project. So let's get started.

First we need to answer the question, what is a project? A project is temporary. It will involve one or more people. And it will produce a product, service, or a specific result.

Results of a project are often referred to as deliverables or outcomes. The design of a software application is an example of a product deliverable. A project has a defined start date and end date. Sometimes the end date is specified by factors external to the project, such as products that must be ready by a certain time of year. And sometimes it is defined during the project scheduling phase.

The result of a project can benefit an organization, such as a marketing plan for a new model of a car. Or individuals, such as a method to apply for a new car loan. And finally, a project has a specific budget. Just as with a schedule, a budget might be determined before the project starts, or it might be the responsibility of the project manager and his team to establish the budget.

There are some instances where a project won't have a budget. The project cost might be limited by other means, such as limiting the number of people on the project, for example. Or it might have been determined that the results of the project are necessary no matter what the cost. Now that we've defined projects, we need to discuss how they differ from operations.

If you recall, we said that projects have start and end dates. Operations on the other hand, have no specific start and end dates. From example, the design of a new smartphone would be considered a project. But once the smartphone was designed, than the actual production of the phones would begin. And it would continue until it was decided at an unknown time in the future to halt the production. That is considered an operation.

Another way to distinguish between a project and an operation is that the work which occurs during a project is unique for every project. While the work in an operation is continuous and repeatable. A project team might design a more efficient process to evaluate a new hire, for example.

But once the project was complete, the repeatable and continuous evaluation of new employees would be considered an operation. Since operations are ongoing, they often include temporary projects that assist with changes to the operation. But projects do not include operations.

Projects might make use of the results of an operation. For example, a software application developed by a project might be shipped on CDs-- the results of a CD manufacturing operation. But the manufacturing operation shouldn't be considered part of the project management.

Now let's talk about the person who oversees these projects, the project manager. This is an individual who uses a range of knowledge, skills, and tools to lead a project to successful completion. We've already discussed many of the project responsibilities that fall to a project manager. They have to make sure the deliverables meet the defined requirements, they have oversight of the budget, and they manage the individuals assigned to the project. There are also responsible for communicating about the project status, and managing expectations as to the projects results.

Not all organizations have project managers. But sometimes they're just hiding under different titles. In the home building industry, for example, the person who manages the building of houses or office buildings is often referred to as a general contractor. But they're just another type of project manager.

In the development of movies and video games, the person who manages the budget, timeline, and staff is called a producer. And in software development, there are many areas, including design, coding, and testing. And in each group, you'll find project leads, project coordinators, project owners, and of course, project managers. All different job titles, but often with identical responsibilities.

Which brings us to our final area for discussion, program management. Now, sometimes deliverables are too large or too complex for a single project. Or the staff and the details are too many for a single project manager. And that's where program management comes in.

It provides oversight of multiple related projects. Now, what does that me? A mission like the Mars Rover is a perfect example of this. Many interrelated disciplines needed to coordinate their efforts all for one goal, to place a remote control robot on Mars. That could only happen with program management.

Program management is not just a collection of projects, though. It is a grouping of projects that are solving the same problem or addressing the same opportunity. For example, a company that provides insurance might be releasing a new product to members. In order for the product to be successful, there must be projects that create the policy and procedures, projects to design and create the methods by which information is given to members, such as mailers and websites, and projects to market the product once it is complete.

The oversight of all these projects is program management. And it is often handled by a program manager. The program manager guides the overall direction of all projects within a program through interactions with the project manager and directly with the teams.

The program manager may also manage one or more projects within the program, effectively acting as a project manager too. A program will always have projects within it, but projects do not need to be part of a program. Some organizations will manage all project managers as a single group instead, regardless of the goals and products produced by their projects.

Good job. You've now learned the basics of project management. You've learned to identify projects and how to distinguish them from operations. You know the responsibilities that accompany the role of project manager. And you understand how program management overseas related projects.

It's a strong start. And you're ready to explore more details of project management. Thanks. And have a great day.

Terms to Know
Program Management

The oversight and/or management of multiple related projects.

Project Management

The process of planning, managing resources, and leading a team to achieve identified goals.

Project Manager

An individual who uses a range of knowledge, skills and tools to lead a project to successful completion.