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                               PhD Student Werner Robbert Titus DEENEN
                          Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

   When talking about projects, the barrier is clear: successful and failed. Some
   fail due to different reasons, but lack of good project and risk management
   played a large part. Others succeed largely because of the rigorous and
   disciplined application of good project practices. But both groups illustrate
   many points that underline and demonstrate important concepts applicable to
   current projects. Systematic application of good methods leads to successful
   outcomes in projects of all types. All projects are fundamentally dependent on
   people, and human beings are not very different today than we were
   hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. This paper uncovers main
   elements in projects area such as the concepts and governance of projects,
   with an underline of the main characteristics and the projects phases and life
   cycle that erase the uncertainty that joins all the projects built at any time.

   Keywords: project management, life cycle of a project

     Introduction                             expenditure      within     which      the
      A project is a temporary endeavor       deliverables are produced, to meet a
undertaken to create a unique product         specified customer requirement.
or service.                                         Have limited resources. At the start
      It can also comprise an ambitious       of a project an agreed amount of labour,
plan to define and constrain a future by      equipment and materials is allocated to
limiting it to set goals and parameters.      the project.
The planning, execution and monitoring              Involve an element of risk. Projects
of major projects sometimes involves          entail a level of uncertainty and
setting up a special temporary                therefore carry business risk.
organization, consisting of a project               Achieve beneficial change. The
team and one or more work teams. A            purpose of a project is typically to
project usually needs resources.              improve an organization through the
      Projects     are   different    from    implementation of business change.
standard business operational activities            The word project comes from the
as      they     have     the    following    Latin word projectum from projicere, "to
characteristics.                              throw something forwards" which in turn
      Are unique in nature. They do not       comes from pro-, which denotes
involve repetitive processes. Every           something that precedes the action of
project undertaken is different from the      the next part of the word in time
last, whereas operational activities often    (paralleling the Greek πρό) and jacere,
involve undertaking repetitive (identical)    "to throw". The word "project" thus
processes.                                    actually originally meant "something
      Have a defined timescale. Projects      that comes before anything else is
have a clearly specified start and end        done". When the word was initially
date within which the deliverables must       adopted, it referred to a plan of
be produced to meet a specified               something, not to the act of actually
customer requirement.                         carrying this plan out. Something
      Have      an    approved     budget.    performed in accordance with a project
Projects are allocated a level of financial   was called an object. This use of
"project" changed in the 1950s when                Project governance will outline the
several     techniques      for    project   relationships between all internal and
management were introduced: with this        external groups involved in the project;
advent the word slightly changed             describe the proper flow of information
meaning to cover both projects and           regarding the project to all stakeholder;
objects. However in certain projects         ensure the appropriate review of issues
there may still exist so called objects      encountered within each project; ensure
and object leaders, reflecting the older     that required approvals and direction for
use of the words.                            the project is obtained at each
      One may also think in terms of         appropriate stage of the project.
platonism, where ideas from the realm              Important specific elements of
of ideals are projected onto the physical    good project governance include: a
world.                                       compelling business case, stating the
      Particularly liked by Western          objects of the project and specifying the
business, projects can subdivide into        in-scope and out-of-scope aspects; a
sub-projects and spawn an industrial         mechanism to assess the compliance of
sub-culture of project planning and          the completed project to its original
project management, all oblivious to         objectives; identifying all stakeholders
more holistic developments.                  with an interest in the project; a defined
      Some feel this habit of short-         method of communication to each
termism has permeated economic               stakeholder; a set of business-level
planning and personal growth to the          requirements as agreed by all
detriment of cyclical and multi-cultural     stakeholders; an agreed specification
world views. Alternatives to project-        for the project deliverables; the
centric planning include trend-oriented      appointment of a project manager; clear
goal-setting and directional planning.       assignment of project roles and
      However, this view is contentious,     responsibilitie; a current, published
and     indeed     industrial    program     project plan that spans all project stages
management and portfolio management          from      project     initiation   through
represent ways of administering a range      development to the transition to
of projects to fulfill an over-arching       operations; a system of accurate
strategy.                                    upward status- and progress-reporting
      Notable      projects       include:   including time records; a central
Manhattan Project: Developed the first       document repository for the project; a
nuclear weapon; Human Genome                 centrally-held glossary of project terms;
Project: To map the human genome;            a process for the management and
Project Apollo: Landing a man on the         resolution of issues that arise during the
moon.                                        project; a process for the recording and
      Once established as idea, the          communication of risks identified during
project should be turned to life and put     the project; a standard for quality review
into practice through different means        of the key governance documents and
and steps, which all together form the       of the project deliverables.
project governance.
                                                 Project management
      Project governance                     definition and characteristics
    The term Project governance is                Project Management is the skills,
used to describe the processes that          tools and management processes
need to exist for a successful project.      required to undertake a project
                                             successfully. It incorporates:
       A   set     of   skills.   Specialist         Project management is inclusive,
knowledge, skills and experience are           not exclusive.
required to reduce the level of risk                 Project management used to be
within a project and thereby enhance its       the exclusive domain of a privileged few
likelihood of success.                         with the skills and experience to
       A suite of tools. Various types of      succeed. Today everyone is a project
tools are used by project managers to          management consumer, and many are
improve their chances of success.              assuming       the     role     of project
Examples include document templates,           management -- some by design, some
registers, planning software, modeling         by accident. Project management is
software, audit checklists and review          also the vehicle through which
forms.                                         stakeholders are made aware of their
       A series of processes. Various          assignments, interfaces, and progress.
processes and techniques are required          Project management must reach
to monitor and control time, cost, quality     outside of an organization to vendors,
and scope on projects. Examples                suppliers, designers, subcontractors, to
include     time      management,       cost   the client, and to the ever-curious
management, quality management,                public.
change management, risk management                   Project management is peer-to-
and issue management.                          peer, not top down.
       In today's fast-paced business                Peer-to-peer project management
environment,        the    necessity      of   invites participation from the very
incorporating      project     management      people assigned to do the work; after
practices     into     an     organization's   all, who knows better how long
operations has become increasingly             something will take than the resources
apparent. Project Management's best-           themselves. This peer-to-peer model
practices and methodologies allow              removes the middleman from decision-
workers to stay on time, on budget,            making. Project teams respond more
while wading through the sheer mass of         quickly     to    self-identified  project
data. Data that has increased                  opportunities and threats, thereby
exponentially as a result of the               keeping the project on schedule.
information revolution in what is now          Information rolls up so managers can
being called the Information Age.              focus on resolving conflicting priorities
Project management has become a                and resource bottlenecks.
standard practice rather than an                     Project       management          is
exception, and the incorporation of            collaborative, not hierarchical.
these key principles is often seen as the            Project-team collaboration is the
distinguishing factor in measuring             most important factor in minimizing
success.                                       project risks, maximizing project quality,
       Amid these advances in project          and eliminating wasteful efforts and
management skills and technology,              unnecessary rework. Since the majority
however, the fundamental benefit               of projects rely on teams that are not
remains the same. Project management           co-located, project management creates
helps organizations respond faster,            touch points for soliciting input and
accomplish its strategic goals, and            consensus throughout the project
recognize return on investment. From           lifecycle.
this point of view project management                Rather than enforce a rigid,
bears some characteristics.                    hierarchical flow of information that
                                               slows down decision-making, project

management enables internal and               understand the health of their business
external project team members to              and the ripple effects of their strategic
collaborate beyond simply coordinating        project decisions. This enterprise-wide
calendars and circulating project-based       insight can only come from maintaining
e-mail. Project management exposes            all of the projects within a centralized
relevant project information to others        system, with a company-wide project
involved in the project, using workflow       structure -- the project management
rules and routings to ensure all have         "chart of accounts" -- to facilitate this
access to information they need to            cross-project analysis.
accomplish their work better.                       Project management is portfolio
      Project        management          is   management,            not        catch-all
cooperative, not adversarial.                 management.
      One example of teams existing as              Once a company has a handle on
virtual companies only to accomplish          all of the projects that are underway or
the project is demonstrated in the            in the pipeline, it is in a position to
construction industry. They each have         decide effectively which of the many
their own profit motivations and may          new       project     opportunities    will
actually      be     competitors.      This   compliment the project portfolio. Project
cooperation is essential for getting the      management enables companies to
project done better, faster, and cheaper.     determine which projects can be
They must cooperate, not fight. They          accomplished with the resources that
must learn to trust each other, sharing       are available (or that can be hired),
information that once was "theirs and         which will provide the greatest payback
theirs alone" in order to distribute the      given     the     opportunity   and    the
burden of project complexity and risk.        investment the company is willing to
      Project management raises the           make, and which combination of
visibility of project risks, issues, and      projects best achieves their strategic
decisions for the mutual good of the          objectives      within     the    required
project and its participants. Designers,      timeframe.
contractors and managers must work
together to do the right things correctly         Projects       phases      and     life
the first time on behalf of their customer,   cycle
the owner. The ascendance of                        Because projects are unique
design/build for project delivery proves      undertakings, they involve a degree of
this.                                         uncertainty. Organizations performing
      Project management is enterprise-       projects will usually divide each project
wide, not standalone.                         into several project phases to improve
      There isn’t a CEO who wouldn’t          management control and provide for
like to know what projects are underway       links to the ongoing operations of the
in the organization, or to be able to         performing organization. Collectively,
evaluate the impacts of accelerating          the project phases are known as the
one project ahead of another. No CFO          project life cycle.
would be permitted to manage the                   Characteristics of Project Phases
business’ finances in the same                     Each project phase is marked by
standalone, disconnected, unrepeatable        completion of one or more deliverables.
fashion that projects are often               A deliverable is a tangible, verifiable
managed.                                      work product such as a feasibility study,
      With        an       enterprise-wide    a detail design, or a working prototype.
perspective, executives can truly             The deliverables, and hence the
phases, are part of a generally                deliverables when the risks involved are
sequential logic designed to ensure            deemed acceptable. This practice of
proper definition of the product of the        overlapping phases is often called fast
project.                                       tracking.
      The conclusion of a project phase             Project life cycles generally define:
is generally marked by a review of both        what technical work should be done in
key       deliverables    and     project      each phase (e.g., is the work of the
performance to date, to: a) determine if       architect part of the definition phase or
the project should continue into its next      part of the execution phase?); who
phase; b) detect and correct errors cost       should be involved in each phase (e.g.,
effectively.                                   implementers who need to be
      These phase-end reviews are              involved with requirements and design).
often called phase exits, stage gates, or           Project life-cycle descriptions may
kill points.                                   be very general or very detailed. Highly
      Each project phase normally              detailed     descriptions     may      have
includes a set of defined deliverables         numerous forms, charts, and checklists
designed to establish the desired level        to provide structure and consistency.
of management control. The majority of         Such detailed approaches are often
these items are related to the primary         called         project        management
phase deliverable, and the phases              methodologies.
typically take their names from these               Most project life-cycle descriptions
items: requirements, design, build, test,      share     a     number      of      common
startup, turnover, and others, as              characteristics: cost and staffing levels
appropriate.                                   are low at the start, higher toward the
                                               end, and drop rapidly as the project
      Characteristics of the Project Life      draws to a conclusion; the probability of
Cycle                                          successfully completing the project is
      The project life cycle serves to         lowest, and hence risk and uncertainty
define the beginning and the end of a          are highest, at the start of the project.
project.                                       The probability of successful completion
      The project life-cycle definition will   generally gets progressively higher as
also determine which transitional              the project continues; the ability of the
actions at the beginning and the end of        stakeholders to influence the final
the project are included and which are         characteristics of the project's product
not. In this manner, the project life-cycle    and the final cost of the project is
definition can be used to link the project     highest      at      the      start     and
to the ongoing operations of the               gets progressively lower as the project
performing organization.                       continues. A major contributor to this
      The phase sequence defined by            phenomenon is that the cost of changes
most project life cycles generally             and      error     correction     generally
involves some form of technology               increases as the project continues.
transfer     or    handoff     such     as
requirements to design, construction to             Conclusions
operations, or design to manufacturing.              Successful projects don’t happen
Deliverables from the preceding phase          by themselves. However, the success
are usually approved before work starts        rate is bound to go up because project
on the next phase. However, a sub-             management prevents companies from
sequent phase is sometimes begun               inaugurating projects that are likely to
prior to approval of the previous phase        fail or are poorly defined. It helps
increase speed of project delivery and        desktop computer to market is but one
efficiency of project execution. Project      phase or stage of the product life cycle.
management helps capturing best                    Although many project life cycles
practices so every project is more            have similar phase names with similar
successful than the last one. It even         deliverables required, few are identical.
bridges the gap between project               Most have four or five phases, but some
participants so everyone is on the same       have nine or more. Even within a single
page and working toward the same              application area, there can be major
goals.                                        variations; one organization's software
      Also, care should be taken to           development life cycle may have a
distinguish the project life cycle from the   single design phase while another's has
product life cycle. For example, a            separate phases for functional and
project undertaken to bring a new             detail design.

[1] Altwein, D., The Evolving Role of the Project Manager, PMBoulevard article,
posted 2004.
[2] Coughlan, R., Ethical Decision in Project Management, PMBoulevard article,
posted 2004,
[3] Fitzgerald, D., Scalable Project Portofolio Management, PMBoulevard article,
posted 2006,
[4] Lientz, B., Rea, K., 2000 Project Management: Planning and Implementation,
Harcourt Publishing, 1999.
[5] Lock, D., Project Management, John Wiley and Sons, 6th Edition, 1996.
[6] Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge, Newton Square, Pa., Project Management Institute, 2000.


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