Question 1: a. Are Project Management ‘tools’ a hindrance or a help? There is no doubt in my mind that when the right people are given the right tools and trained with the correct knowledge and use of Project Management Tools, that they will be a critical component to the overall success of a Project. Project Management is a methodical approach to planning and piloting project processes and tools from start to finish. According to the Project Management Institute, the processes are guided through five stages: initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.
Project Management tools can be applied to almost any type of project and are widely used across the world. As there are no limits to its use, Project Management, and its tools can be employed to control anything from the complex processes of software development to the building of a garden shed. Project Management tools are used extensively throughout the profession and help Project Managers and Team members steer projects in the right direction and keep them on track. In the world of Project Management there is one main reference tool and that is the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBoK as it is widely referred to.
PMBoK focuses on nine basic processes that it has identified as existing within competent project management. These nine management processes are: • Integration Management: the processes used to effectively coordinate the various aspects and layers of the project. • Scope Management: the processes that focus on the work that needs to be done to achieve the project goal(s). • Time Management: the processes that ensure the project is completed on schedule. • Cost Management: the processes that ensure the project does not deviate and/or exceed from its budget. Quality Management: the processes that ensure the project satisfies the need that it is based upon, as well as satisfies customer requirements and fitness for use. • HR Management: the processes that make effective use of the people involved in the project. • Communications Management: the processes that create the relevant creation, organising, sharing, storing, and disposition of project information. • Risk Management: the processes that identify, analyse, and manage project risk. Procurement Management: the processes that enable the acquisition of goods and services from outside the project staff in order to support the project goal(s). Within these processes are many different tools that exist. Some key tools used in Project Management are; • Work Breakdown Structure, a detailed description of all the tasks required to completing a project, and their relationship to one another. • 3-Point Estimation, a technique for estimating the minimum (best case), maximum (worst case), and expected times required to complete each task. Critical Path Analysis, which used the work breakdown structure and 3-point estimates to identify “bottleneck” tasks in the development process (i. e. , those tasks that determine the overall lead time of the project). • Earned Value Analysis, a method for measuring project progress by comparing actual and expected resources (or time) expended. All of the aforementioned tools are brilliant in keeping a Project on track or alerting the Project Manager/Team of any alarming variances, but these tools are only as effective as the people controlling and monitoring them.
If the people choose to ignore information resulting from the use of these tools then the tools themselves become ineffective. In the instance of the Polaris Project, John Butler “was convinced that these methodologies would provide a robust means to communicate the project status to management, and to identify critical issues (such as potential delays) that required senior management’s action and support. ” In essence he was correct