7 Critical Project Management Processes for Project Success

5/29/2010 Carsten Howitz Project Management

We often get a lot of questions from customers when we include project management for our projects. They usually ask us "Is it necessary? Why do I need it?" and we find that most customers think project management is "just emails and a little bit of change control."

But actually, there is much more to project management than a few emails and change control. The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) that you should follow in all projects contains 44 PMI (Project Management Institute) processes divided in five different groups that potentially can be included in any project. Most of the time you would reduce the number of processes depending on the size of the project, but the approach should always be to take a look at all of them and determine which ones are needed for a particular project.

One thing that ALWAYS applies to any project is the term "progressive elaboration". It simply means that you don't know all the characteristics about the final product at the beginning of the project. Things will change. The customer will change their mind. Unforeseen events will come up.

I always recommend to at least considering implementing the following processes for projects larger than 100 hours:

1. Develop a project charter

This is the single most important document on the project. Without it, there is no project.

2. Stakeholder identification

Who will be affected by this project and how? You need to indentify everyone involved or affected by this project. If we miss some, the project may be at risk!

3. Scope Definition

This explains to the stakeholder, what the scope of the project is. It doesn't have to be a comprehensive document, but it should explain what is included, and what is not included in the project

4. Project Schedule

This explains what activities that need to be completed and when. It also shows milestones including when the project is going to be delivered.

5. Cost Budgeting

This is the cost budget that is more elaborate and accurate than the initial proposal.

6. Risk Identification and response

Identify what the risks are in this project and plan to respond to risks if they occur.

7. Change Control

This controls any changes to the project. This is extremely important especially in larger project to prevent the scope creep: changes being applied without approval or control.

You may think this sounds like an awful lot of work to manage a 100-hour project, but the idea is that you at least think about these important processes and plan accordingly. I always use the rule of thumb that you add 15-20% to the total project as project management, so for a 100-hour project you are looking at a 15-20 hours.

Larger projects with more than 1,000 hours will require even more project management and I suggest that you hire a Project Management Professional (PMP) to manage the project for you. A PMP is trained and proficient in all knowledge areas and processes of project management and will be able to run the project professionally for you.

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