Successful organizations create projects that produce desired results in established time frames with assigned resources. As a result, businesses are increasingly driven to find individuals who can excel in a project-oriented environment.

A project is a temporary undertaking performed to produce a unique product, service, or result. Large or small, a project always has the following three components:

Specific scope.
Required resources.

Each component affects the other two, and together they form the basis of a project's definition. The only reason a project exists is to produce specific results by a certain time, and it is shaped by the availability of resources.

Additionally, risk is an important consideration when defining a project.
Every project, whether large or small, passes through the following four stages:

Starting the project.
Organizing and preparing.
Carrying out the work.
Closing the project.

Project management is the process of guiding a project from its beginning through its performance and ultimately to its completion and closure. Project management includes five sets of processes:

Initiating processes.
Planning processes.
Executing processes.
Monitoring and controlling processes.
Closing processes.
Successfully performing these processes requires information, communication, and commitment.

A scope statement is a written confirmation of the results the project will produce and the terms and conditions under which the work will be performed. Both the people who requested the project and the project team should agree to all terms of the scope statement before any project work begins.

The scope statement should include justification, objectives, product scope description, product acceptance criteria, constraints, and assumptions.
Understanding the situation and thought processes that led to a project's creation helps ensure that the project manager and project team will successfully meet people's expectations.

The first task is identifying who had the original idea that led to the project, who is the project champion, and who may benefit from the project. Sometimes a project stands alone, but more often it is one part of related efforts to achieve a common result.

It is important to avoid duplicating the work of these other related projects, and, where appropriate, coordinate the efforts. The objectives of the project should be clearly defined by creating a brief narrative of what is to be achieved, a description of indicators that will be used to access success, and performance specifications. The stated objectives should be specific, measurable, aggressive, realistic, and time sensitive (SMART).

A project audience is any person or group that supports, is affected by, or is interested in the project. Project audiences can be inside or outside the organization, and knowing who they are helps the project manager plan when and how to involve them. As different audiences are identified, they should be recorded on an audience list in categories that describe all internal and external groups.

After identifying everyone in the project's audience, it is time to determine which of the following groups they fall into:

* Drivers: People who have some say in defining the results of the project.
* Supporters: People who work on the project or provide resources.
* Observers: People who are interested in the activities or results of the project.

Keeping drivers, supporters, and observers informed as the project progresses is critical to success. This can be accomplished through one-on-one meetings, group meetings, informal written correspondence, formal information-sharing vehicles, and written approvals.

In project terms, authority refers to the overall right to make project decisions that others must follow, including the right to apply project resources, expend funds, or give approvals. An audience's potential impact on a project depends on the power it has to exercise and the interest it has in exercising that power.

The keys to successful project planning and performance are completeness and continuity. The project manager must identify all important information in the project plan and address all aspects of the plan during project performance.

Describing in detail all the work required to complete the project can help to accomplish these tasks. This description provides the foundation for scheduling and resource planning, defining roles and responsibilities, assigning work to team members, capturing key project performance data, and reporting on completed project work.

The best way to determine how long and how much work a project will take is to break down the required project work into its component deliverables, through a process called decomposition. The greater the detail in which the project manager decomposes a project, the less likely that anything significant will be overlooked.

The work breakdown structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented, hierarchical decomposition of the work required to achieve a project's objectives and produce the required project products. The WBS is developed by determining the major deliverables or products to be produced, dividing each major deliverable into its components, and dividing each of these work pieces into its component parts.

In addition to helping the project manager identify work that must be completed, a WBS helps identify unknowns that may cause problems when work gets underway.

Author's Bio: 

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