Challenges Of Project Management
We are living in an increasingly faster world. Not that the earth takes less time to go round the sun or the 24/7 weekly cycle has become less (though there are murmurs about the need for a 25 hour day!) or that the delivery time of a baby has come down! Natures pace has essentially remained constant. However, within a given time, we want to achieve much more in terms of our activities. We want to construct roads, bridges and buildings much faster. Car manufacturers wish to introduce newer models, too frequently. Even inventors of new product ideas have to deliver the products in double quick time to ward off copycats and beat others with similar ideas. Look at the frequency with which new models of iPads and its clones are being churned out.
Internet has created a paradigm shift in communication and no time is spent in waiting for a response even from the remotest of places. It has signaled the death of distance. Likewise transportation of men, material and equipment and transfer of money is now much faster. Economic Globalization and free trade have introduced severe competition in the production and distribution of goods.
In this changed environment, customers have become very demanding and expect completion of projects in double quick time. There is sustained hunger for newer and cheaper products and services. Product life cycle has drastically come down.
How does one survive in this rat race? Other constraints being equal, you will be a clear winner if you can execute your projects more efficiently and in less time than your competitors. Projects are a land mine full of risks waiting to blow up in your face. Although many of them may claim to have been completed, they fail on one count or another.
The success of a project is measured against the baseline parameters of
Well defined requirements (Scope)
Estimated time and cost of completion
Suitability of the end product or service for the intended purpose
Most projects are either delayed or exceed budget or both. In some cases, while the project may be a success, the product delivered is a total failure (e.g. box office flops) or deficient in some respects. There are other projects that linger forever. The otherwise famous Sydney Opera House is a typical example of a project that notoriously exceeded the cost and time. The original cost estimate in 1957 was $7 million. The original completion date set by the government was 26 January 1963 (Australia Day). However, the project was completed 10 years late and over-budget by more than fourteen times.
Tatas Nano car was rolled out in Gujarat in a record time, but the product did not take off as expected. A few cars caught fire indicating deficiency in quality. Recall of cars by reputed manufacturers has become commonplace because of some aspect or detail that is not up to scratch.
A structured process of Project Management enables Project Managers to deliver projects successfully from inception to completion, efficiently negotiating all the changes and uncertainties that the project encounters. At least one not-for-profit organization known by the name Project Management Institute (PMI for short), incorporated in USA in 1969 is contributing very effectively to the discipline of Project Management, through education, research, training and certification. PMI has become universally recognized as a premier certification body for Project Management professionals. It has developed a Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The PMBOK Guide identifies processes, skills, tools and techniques applicable to most projects, most of the time. The application of these skills, tools and techniques can enhance the chances of success of a wide range of projects. According to PMI a project is a temporary endeavour to create a unique product, service or result, with a definite beginning and end. PMBOK contains five Project Management process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control and closing) and management of 9 knowledge areas (project integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk and procurement).
The pivotal role of project management in the survival and success of modern day business enterprises and not for profit organizations has lately produced tremendous opportunities for Project Managers nationally and internationally. It is across varied industries from construction, manufacturing, services and IT, to space research and pharmaceutical research.
?A universally recognized formal Project Management Professional (PMP) certification creates an extra degree of confidence among employers in search of a competent Project Manager. Good project management capabilities could be a key differentiator between a successful organization and a not so successful one.
Prof. N. Natarajan is a senior professional in the fields of Project Management, Finance, Engineering, Arbitration, Education and Teaching. He has vast experience in Government, public and private sectors and International organizations.