Explain What Is Meant By The Term ‘Project Context’

Paul Naybour

Here is a good example answer of what is expected for this APM PMQ Exam question – updated 19th January 2022
a) Explain what is meant by the term project context (10 marks)
Project context is the internal and external environment that a project operates in. The influences within the environment will have an effect on the project and this needs to be understood by the project manager.  An example of this is the implementation of a new IT system limited to a small group of people, which will be very different to the building of a new airport runway, which will have far more influences that need to be considered i.e. political, regulatory, environment, emerging economies etc.  
b) Explain four distinct factors that may influence project context (40 marks)

1. Political

There could be internal and external political issues that needs to be considered for the building of a new runway.  Projects that is introducing a big change will not be easily accepted by the local community or at a national political level i.e. mayor of London opposing a new runway.  All of this needs to be considered by the project manager and allowed for in the plans, resources and finances.

2. Sociological 

Sociological factors may influence the project context.  The needs of particular groups of society needs to be considered by engaging and consulting with them.  An example a new IT system needs to be designed with the end user in mind taking into account the size of the screens, ease of use and consideration of disabilities.  the project manager needs to ensure a design is put in place and that the use cases are considered early on.  

3. Legal

Legal factors my influence the project context. Project managers needs to be aware of legislation that can affect the project.  For example the woking time regulations prescribe rules regarding the amount of time employees an work.  If time is a limiting factor the project manager needs to ensure that there is sufficient numbers of employees to deliver to schedule and if not then they may need to allow time for recruitment in the plan.  For construction projects planning permission may be needed and the time required will need to be understood and allowed for in plans.

4. Environmental factors

Environmental factors may influence the project context.  For a construction project an environmental impact assessment needs to be done early on in the project so that the project manager can understand all the risks involved and allow the project manager to plan time to allow consultation with the relevant authorities or to gain permits e.g. an environmental permit for discharges to land water and air.

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