Basics of Project Management

Basics of Project Management

Project management has been proven to be effective method to deliver projects under time, cost and resource constraints. Understanding and applying project management good processes and practices, understanding its essential elements would improve your ability to manage projects.

Difference between Project Vs Program Vs Portfolio




Project is temporary undertaking to create unique deliverable (product / service / result).

It has Single and Unique Goal.

A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.

It focuses on project inter dependencies and helps to determine the optimal approach of managing them. In a way, it helps achieve decreased risk, economies of scale, and improved management.

Program has Shared Goal.

Projects, programs, sub portfolios and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.

Portfolio ensures organization leverage its project selection and execution.

Portfolio has Strategic Objective.


What is Project?

Definition: A project is a temporary undertaking performed to produce a unique product, service, or result.

Key Characteristics of Project –

  1. Temporary – Temporary does not mean short duration but it means project has fixed start and end date. Project ends when its objectives are achieved or it is terminated due to some reason or need for project no longer exists.
  2. Unique product/service/result – Project creates unique deliverable which means we have never created anything which is exactly the same output as this project. Earlier we might have done similar projects but output may not be exactly the same. For instance, builder constructs properties in which basic work is to construct the building but each property will be unique due to differences in location, workers and other parameters so are projects.
  3. Progressive Elaboration- It means from Unknown to known. Project starts with an idea or concept and Requirements get progressively elaborated. Once requirements are decided then design and development can start. If progressive elaboration does not happen, end results may not be satisfactory.

Project Triggers

New projects may get triggered due to any number of reasons. Typically one might find following triggers for new project.

  1. Market Demand – When there is need for product or service for large number of customers then we would classify that project to be triggered by market demand. (eg. E-Commerce Portal)
  2. Customer Request – If the need is raised by a specific customer for product or service, trigger is customer request. (eg. Customer asking for website)
  3. Organization Need/Business Opportunity – Here problem is faced or business opportunity is identified by internal processes of Organization. For instance organization is grown and current systems are stretched to capacity, then there is need to upgrade which is Organization Need. Or Completion CMMI/ISO certification, opens more opportunities for Organization which is Business Opportunity trigger.
  4. Technological Advance – Sometimes Product/Service which was not possible due to technological constraints can come into being due to technological advance. (eg. Smart phones/Tablets)
  5. Legal Requirement – Government regulations change, project trigger could be legal requirement. (eg. Digitization of cable TV operations/GST implementation)

Project Vs Operation Work


Operation Work

A project is a temporary undertaking performed to produce a unique product, service, or result Operations are permanent undertaking that produce repetitive output, with assigned resources to do same set of tasks according to defined processes in the life cycle.
Project requires Project Management Operation Requires Business Process Management/Operations Management.
Eg.          Shifting of Office

Creating a building

Creating a movie

Eg.          Production operation

Manufacturing operation

Accounting operation

Project Constraints

Project Constraints

Project Constraints

Project success depends on different factors and there are always challenges in the project, called “Project Constraint”.

In traditional project management, ‘Scope’, ‘Time’ and ‘Cost’ were seen as “Triple Constraints”. They are highly interdependent on each other and you cannot change one without having any

impact on the other. Over the period, ‘Risk’, ‘Quality’ and ‘Customer satisfaction’ are added to the list.

If we have decided the scope and worked out time and cost, any change to scope cannot be achieved without change in time or cost. If we insist to accommodate scope change without changing time, cost or providing additional resources, it will involve Risk and it is very likely that Quality of output may get affected and as a result Customer satisfaction may get impacted.

Pushing too much in one direction causes problem onto other so management always sets Priority of each constraint. This prioritization is used during lifecycle of the project.

What is Project Management?

Definition: Project Management is application of Knowledge, Skills, Tools and Techniques to project activities to meet the Project Requirements.

It involves-

  1. Identification of Project Requirements
  2. Break them into Project Activities
  3. Right use of Knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to meet these requirements
    • Set of Skills- Specialized knowledge, skills and experience which reduce project level of risk thereby increase its likelihood of success.
    • A suite of Tools- Project Managers use various types of tools to increase success rate.
    • Templates, forms, softwares, checklists
    • A Series of Processes – A suite of management processes are needed to monitor and control the project such as Time management, quality management, change management, risk management, issue management.

It helps to narrow down focus, articulate proper goal and achieve goal. It is Both Science and Art and follows systematic Process- Art of leading, enabling, motivating and communicating AND Science of planning, estimating, measuring and controlling the work.

Effective Project management results in project success and everyone is Winner.

Project Manager

A project manager is the person responsible for leading a project from its inception to execution to closure. He/she is a key resource of the project who is responsible to follow project management method for successful delivery of the project.

Key Responsibilities of Project Manager –

  • Project Meets the requirements
  • Project needs to be managed through the Project Constraints
  • Balance Conflicting stakeholder needs-
  • While delivering project, constantly focus on higher productivity of team
  • Never allow management to be surprised. Anticipate problems and manage risk on project
  • Project success in spite of different types of risks and problems

Project manager skillsA good project manager

  • Takes Ownership
  • Leads by Example
  • Good Communicator
  • Motivator
  • Interpersonal
  • Handles Negotiation and Conflict management
  • Decisive
  • Proactive
  • Can delegate
  • Manage by data and facts and not by

 Project Life Cycle

The Sequence of phases through which the project will evolve is a Project Life Cycle. Phases of life cycle are linked with milestone or major deliverable. Project is divided into phases so that it helps to manage the project effectively. Appropriate Life Cycle is adapted based on industry/application area.

The life cycle structure shows following Characteristics

  • Staffing level, cost of project and probability of success is low at initial phases
  • Risk, uncertainty and influence of stakeholders is high at the initial phases 
Project Life Cycle Graph

Project Life Cycle Graph

Project Management Life Cycle / Project management Processes

Project Management life cycle involves 5 process groups, Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing project. These processes are common for all projects across industry/application area. Output of one process acts as input for next process. It defines what need to be done to manage the project.

Project Management LIfe Cycle

Project Management LIfe Cycle

Relationship between Project Life Cycle and Project Management Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle and Process groups are designed to interact. Process Groups are designed to “repeat” in every phase of the Project Life-Cycle.


Organization Structure

It plays important role in influencing project management. At broad level, there are 3 types of organization structures. It determines project Manager’s level or authority and impact on managing projects.

  1. Functional Organization structure
  2. Projectized Organization structure
  3. Matrix Organization structure – Within this, there are minor variations such as
    1. Weak Matrix
    2. Balanced Matrix
    3. Strong Matrix
  1. Functional Organization structure – Functional organization structure is one where organization is divided into departments. Eg. Marketing, sales, accounting, engineering

When project is executed, team is drawn out of all these functional departments.

Functional Organization

Functional Organization

  • The “Project Management” role will be performed by a team member of a functional area under the management of a functional manager.
    • Resources are controlled and authorized by functional managers
    • The “Project Management” role would act more like a “Project Coordinator” or “Project Expediter” who do not usually carry the title of “Project Manager”
    • Project Management is considered a part-time responsibility
    • Authority of the “Project Manager” is very limited
  1. Projectized Organization – In projectized structure, employees do not belong to any department. Team is put together for the duration of the project. After project is completed, team is dispersed and employee get assigned to another project.
Projectized Organization

Projectized Organization

  • The Project Manager is given more authority and resources control
  • The Project Manager is responsible to the Sponsor and/or Senior Management
  • The Project Manager is usually a full-time role
    • Team members are usually co-located within the same office / virtually co-located to maximize communication effectiveness
    • There can be some functional units within organization, however, those units are having a supportive function only without authority over the project manager
  1. Matrix Organization – In Matrix structure, dual reporting happens. Resources are shared between project manager and functional manager.
Strong Matrix Organization Strong Matrix is closer to Projectized Organization. So Project Manager has more authority than Functional Manager.
Strong Matrix Organization

Strong Matrix Organization

Weak Matrix Organization  Weak Matrix is closer to Functional Organization. So Functional Manager has more authority than Project Manager. Project Manager may play role of Project Coordinator/Project Expediter.
Weak Matrix Organization

Weak Matrix Organization

Balanced Matrix Organization Authority is shared between Functional Manager and Project manager.  

Balanced Matrix Organization

Balanced Matrix Organization

Below Table describes Project Manager authority with different organization structures:

Functional Projectized Strong Matrix Balanced Matrix Weak Matrix
Project Manager Role
Part/Full Time Part Time Full Time Full Time Full Time Part Time
Supportive Staff Nil Full Time Full Time Part Time Nil or Part Time
Authority Nil High or Total Moderate to High Low to Moderate Low
Project Resource Control
Resource Availability Very Low High to Total Moderate to High Low to Moderate Low
Project budget Input/Control Functional Manager Project Manager Project Manger Mixed(FM with PM) Functional Manager


Project Coordinator

This role is used in functional organization where Functional manager would be in control of project. Project coordinator is appointed to keep track of project details. He/she has authority to take minor decisions.

Project Expediter 

It is even less of a role to play than project coordinator. He/she cannot take any decision but has responsibility of pushing the project as per plan made by functional manager.


Definition: “A person or group of people who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively impacted as a result of project execution or project completion.”

Stakeholder means person who has stake in outcome of project. It is one of the important entity who can affect the output of the project. There could be group of people who wants project to succeed and others who wants project to fail, both are stakeholders. Stakeholders should be considered as associate team members. Means you should keep them informed, solicit their input, and work to satisfy their needs and expectations. Without which the project would fail.

Generally any project would have following stakeholders

  • Management
  • Project Sponsors
  • Program Manager
  • Project Team
  • Customer
  • End User
  • Supplier
  • Regulatory Body
  • General Public/Citizens
Vidhita Deshmukh
Offering over 17 years of career reflecting experience in Project management, Product Development, Competency Development, Team Management primarily in Java/JEE technologies.

Offering over 17 years of career reflecting experience in Project management, Product Development, Competency Development, Team Management primarily in Java/JEE technologies.