Discover new tools for Project Management

Discover new tools for Project Management

Project management (PM), as such, is not a new concept. Egyptians and Indians have been using the principles of PM for centuries. The first known use of techniques and tools in the modern world dates bac...

Project management (PM), as such, is not a new concept. Egyptians and Indians have been using the principles of PM for centuries. The first known use of techniques and tools in the modern world dates back to the 1950s when the US Navy applied PM for Project Polaris. Soon, NASA adopted it. Large engineering and construction firms followed suit in the late 1970s. The advent of software engineering firms in the 1980s was on the backbone of PM principles, which continues to date. These companies adopted CPM/PERT charts and Gantt charts and combined them with PM tools to manage their companies. Software engineering companies primarily involve human resources and scheduling would be one of the key tools of PM. It is perhaps for this reason that project management was misconstrued to be a resource planning tool and executives did not pay attention to it. In fact, PM is actually an excellent high order management tool. There are many variations of tools but the most popular and widely followed is PMBOK®(The Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the Project Management Institute of Pennsylvania; I am privileged to have undergone the training about 15 years ago. Being a chartered accountant entrusted to head an MNC’s PM vertical, I thought it necessary to get some knowledge on what I lacked in engineering. To my surprise and great learning, my batch largely consisted of software experts, a few from pharma companies, a couple from engineering firms, one from a steel manufacturing giant and another from an electric company, with me being the only one from a construction management company. For me, it was more about learning a new leadership model and tools. I have successfully applied the principles and used the tools learnt in my stint with Knight Frank. So,let’s start with a question: What is a ‘Project’ and how is it different from ‘Operations’? Projects are: Temporary in nature Have a definite start and end date Result in creation of a ‘unique’ service or product End when stated goals, objectives or scope are completed. Anything ongoing in nature, without any end date, is ‘operations’. Think of it as R&D vs.manufacturing. In an automobile company, it is a project till the prototype stage; when the car goes to the assembly line, it is operations. This is the same for pharma companies. Different bodies define PM differently. According to Harold Kerzner,“Project management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of company resources for a relatively short-term objective that has been established to complete specific goals and objectives.” There are numerous benefits of applying the science of PM, which can be summarised as achieving time, cost, quality and scope targets. It can be said that PM is necessary if the job on hand: Is complexHas dynamic environmental considerations Has tight resource constraints Has numerous parallel activities that need to be integrated. Most projects come with upheavals, heartache and strained relations. Many projects fail. Not because of lack of inclination, application, skills, resource crunch or any such factors – more often than not, miscommunication, misunderstanding, perceptions and expectation gaps are the prime reasons. All of these are addressed by PM, as we shall see in detail in the upcoming series. My takeaway is that these techniques and tools, if applied otherwise too in management, can fetch handsome results. Let me give you a synopsis of the tools and techniques PMBOK® offers: While going through the above chart, your keen eyes and alert mind may have noticed that these tools can be applied to pretty much any industry and any level of management… audit firms, educational institutes, election campaigns, movie/TV filming, and even publications. But in the context of this magazine, it is the construction and development companies that stand to gain a lot by adopting these tools. Indeed, large companies do apply their customised tools, much of which are now automated and SAAS-based. In fact, they would have migrated to BIM. But medium to small operators still use ‘back-of-the-envelope’ systems to plan, execute and manage their projects. They perpetually stand to lose on account of lack of plans, documents and change management systems. A good project manager will recover more than projected profits owing to efficient guarding of costs and claims. Change management coupled with contract management ensures this. Another tool that comes to mind is a value engineering register. We have smelt the exciting possibilities of applying the PM approach beyond projects to general management. Let’s go further and explore the possibility of applying these to one’s own individual performance in a job. Many of the modules mentioned in the chart above can come in handy for that. Understanding the scope, stakeholder management and communication plan are a few examples. The forthcoming series shall also give guidance in this regard. To summarise, PM tools can be applied across industries, varied functions within an organisation, by all levels of management and also for individuals. About the author: Naushad Panjwani, Chairman, Mandarus Partners, brings with him almost 30 years of work experience, having donned the hats of entrepreneur, consultant and senior management, spanning the areas of finance, tax, strategy, retail and real estate and now M&A. He is a regular speaker on various channels and writes for publications. He has a deep understanding of all aspects of real estate, which reflects in the book ,Real Estate Laws, co-authored by him.

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