Frequently Asked Questions About Project Management

Paul Naybour

Here are answers to some basic questions for those new to project management or considering it as a career choice. Feel free to comment on these answers or ask your own question.
What is Project Management?
Project Management is the use of skills, knowledge, processes, and activities to reach a defined end-result that could be a new or updated product, a changed process or a new service. It involves a number of fundamental processes such as Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling and Closure and all the tasks related to those processes. It includes managing a sequence of tasks (and the individuals or groups completing those tasks) from a defined project start date to a defined end date. Irrespective of the particular methodology used, these processes remain the same.
What is a Project Management Methodology?
There are a number of different ways of managing a project depending on the nature of the project and a Project Management Methodology is the particular approach that will be used for any given project. A  PM methodology provides a standard method for completing a project and ensures it is managed in a controlled and consistent fashion. It aims to ensure that the project delivers a high-quality product on time and within budget.
What is Agile Project Management?
The Agile approach to project management involves an iterative approach to the different phases of a project so that the work required is completed in small sections and reviewed before subsequent sections are started. The information gleaned from each review can then be used to determine how the next stage should be handled and what it should involve. The advantage of this approach is that problems can be dealt with more easily because they are highlighted sooner, which means it is more cost-effective to alter and subsequently more likely that the project will be completed on time and within budget.
What is the Role of the Project Manager?
The Project Manager is responsible for each stage of the project and the final outcome, and works closely with the project team and the stakeholders/clients during these stages. Specifically this will include:

  • Confirm the business objectives of the project
  • Ascertain assumptions and constraints that might affect the final outcome
  • Identify and manage risks ‰
  • Establish the project requirements
  • Define the project deliverables
  • Estimate and allocate resources
  • Monitor and report on project progress
  • Handle issues and changes during the project lifecycle

What is a Project Milestone?
A Project Milestone is simply a point in time on the project schedule where a certain deliverable will be produced, a certain task completed or a certain event occurs. Milestones usually occur at a natural point during the project lifecycle where a related set of tasks is complete and are used to assess progress and identify issues.
What is the Difference Between a Project Schedule and a Project Plan?
A Project Schedule is part of a Project Plan and includes a list of tasks, estimates, resource allocations, milestones, dependencies and planned start and finish dates for each task. It is used to track the progress of the project.
A Project Plan is the collection of a number of documents concerning different areas of Project Management such as:

  • Communication
  • Risk Management
  • Quality Control
  • Project Schedule
  • Costs
  • Scope

What is a Project Risk?
A Project Risk is an event that may or may not occur during the project lifecycle that is predicted to have a negative impact on the ultimate aim of the project. There are a variety of different types of risk that can be anticipated that could affect the final outcome; broadly these can be categorised as:

  • Financial – the estimated costs are inaccurate
  • Functional – the end product may not meet the original specifications
  • Technical – new technology required for the project does not meet expectations
  • Personnel – key staff members may leave

The assessment of risks should be an on-going task throughout the lifecycle of the project.

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