Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Project management

Define a project. Explain with examples what are five characteristics which help differentiate projects from other functions carried out in the daily operations of the organization?

A project can be defined as something which is very complex ,it has a specific and limited time line which means that it has a start as well an end .Apart from normal or day to day business routines which take place on frequent basis while at the same time a project is a non routine task which means doing something which has never been done before .Every project when undertaken is given a budget which is the cost to complete the project and successful projects are said to be those projects which are completed within the cost and time assigned to them.Projects are also successful when resources are effectively and efficiently utilized and according to the need of customer or the sponsor.Although a project contains the element of risk and uncertainty which is why projects cannot be completed with total accuracy.

The actual characteristics of a project are.

1,It must have an objective ,when ever a project is undertaken the project manager and his team knows what they are meant to do and accomplish.

2,When a project has been started or undertaken it must finish ,for example a bicycle race has a starting line as well as a finish line just as a project have.

3,Projects are complex therefore everyone does not have the capability or knowledge to do selected tasks ,therefore projects can have different members from different departments of the organization but the members are usually highly trained professionals.

4,When an organization is undertaking a project they know that this is something that has never been done before.it can also be reffered as a brand new experience.

5,This is one of the most specific and important characteristic which is the time limit given, Every project is given a specific time limit for example if a project starts and has been given 30 days to finish it that means the project must be completed within 30 days.secondly project is given a budget for example let say 1.2 million pound has been allocated to the project which means that the project should be finished within this budget in simple words it is like a spending limit. .if extra money is required for the project then it cannot be said as a succesful project .This is bound to happen as the project consist of elements such as risk and uncertainty ,apart from that it can also be due to poor planning and lack of effectiveness , efficiency and performance.

A project is only said to be a project if it fullfill all the characteristics mentioned above.

Correction corporation of America is the largest operator of private prisons in the United States .They had almost 8000 phones at 40 different company owned facilities and they were having communication problems so they decided to undertake a project in 2006 therefore they adopted a next generation voice system which actually transmit voice over data networks .The average spending of the project was around $11.11 million but the project helped in reducing telecommunication problems and apart from that it also reduced there management cost.this is one of the example of a project because it covers the characteristics a project must have to be classified as a project ,they actually replaced their old telecommunication system with a new one which generally was a one time activity .The actual budget given to the project is not known but average spending is given. The project shows that they did something which has never been done before and consist of elements such as performance ,time and cost.

Banks can be another example to differenciate projects from other daily functions carried out in an organization Banks provide facilities such as lending ,mortgaging ,borrowing ,their data base is uptated on a regular basis ,they create annual reports,these operations or functionas are not specified as projects because it does not full fill the characteristics of a project .But for instance if the bank were to introduce or upgrade their entire networking system which requires an objective , a specific time , budget and also requires selected and specialized staff then we can say that it is actually undertaking a project.

When talking about the airline industry a very famous disaster recovery project was taken by an American domestic airline called the jetblue airways.The airways which started 2000 and ended up with a revenue of $2.4 billion were facing problems due to heavy ice storms in many cites .Following the hurricane Katrina in 2005 and heavy ice storms during that time of the year created problems such as time delays ,handling reservations ,rerouting traffic and so on.what they actually did was they waited for the meltdown at the john f kennedy airport and the CEO Mr Mees and the entire jetblue information technology team barely slept for a week .They worked day and night to put in a heroic effort as they manage to get operations back on track while pushing their systems to the maximum limit ,they managed to create entirely new database ,tools,and applications to fix these problems as they arose and for the future

Booking flight ,making tickets,reservations are daily operations in the airline industry but the disaster recovery project taken by the Jetblue airways was a complex and one time project and is said to be successful because of the effective,efficient planning and performance of the Jetblue technology team.

Hence the above mentioned example gives us a clear understanding of a project and how a project is different from the daily operations of an organization

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