Project Phases and Organization

  1. Project Phases
    1. A phase: a grouping of similar activities that has a very loosely defined beginning and end.
      1. usually sequential – one is done before the next one, but without stiff beginning and ending dates (different from the project and milestones).
    2. Four phases
      1. initiation (starting the project) – all of the activities necessary to begin planning the project
        1. assignment project manager –> the team has enough information to begin developing a schedule and budget.
          1. project kickoff meetings
          2. identifying the team
          3. developing the resources needed to develop the plan
          4. identifying and acquiring infrastructure (space, computers)
          5. developing clear scope of work
          6. creating stakeholder alignment (it is helpful to have stakeholders aligned early on, but if this does not happen until later that won’t necessarily delay the project)
      2. planning (organizing and preparing) – these tasks stretch for the whole life of the project.
        1. developing more detailed schedules and a budget
        2. developing detailed staffing, procurement and project controls plans
        3. develop an understanding of how the project will be executed.
        4. a plan for acquiring the necessary resources
      3. execution (carrying out the work)
        1. major activities needed to accomplish the work of the project (e.g. developing and delivery of the training)
      4. Closeout (closing of the project)
        1. project staff is transferred off the project
        2. project documents archived
        3. final few items (punch list) completed
        4. the client takes control of the project
        5. project office is closed down
      5. Leadership Skills: Early on the leadership needs to build a team, and create a plan. In later stages the project leadership needs to provide motivation and attention to detail. When projects last longer than two year it is common to change leadership to provide skills that are necessary for a certain phase of the project.
      6. Complexity: depending on the complexity of a project different phases may need different investments during each phase. a lower complexity project can focus resources during execution, while a higher complexity project will want to put resources into the initiation phase.
  2. Project Organization
    1. Span of control – the number of people reporting to a given manager. Can be decreased by increasing the levels of reporting (geographic, topical)
    2. Functions – on smaller projects they can be combined and multiple functions can be carried out by one person.
      1. Sponsor
        1. outside of day-to-day operations
        2. organizational authority or provide resources and overcome barriers
        3. Often a leader in the client organization – interest in the outcome of the project
        4. provide input into the project scope etc.
        5. enhances the projects ability to meet the client’s goals.
      2. Project manager – responsibilities depend on the complexity and structure of the project
        1. Main role: to lead, provide a vision of success, connect everyone to the vision and provide means and methods to be successful.
        2. Similar to a project CEO
        3. Facilitates start-up, staff development, resources and work processes
        4. manages the project and oversees closeout
        5. Sometimes responsible for more than even organizational leaders
        6. Creates a goal-directed and time-focused project culture.
      3. Project Control – plans and tracks progress against the plan
        1. works closely with project managers to keep track of cost and schedule impacts on the project
        2. estimating, tracking costs, analyzing trends, making prediction, planning, scheduling, managing change, tracking progress against schedule.
        3. Sometimes handled by accounting, but since the needs of a project are much broader and less detailed than the needs of a company it often makes more sense to separate them.
      4. Procurement – purchasing supplies and equipment
        1. When the project is smaller might be able to use the services of the parent organization.
        2. Types or relationships on large projects
          1. commodity procurement
            1. largest number of items
            2. bought off the shelf without modification
            3. typically big – lowest prices on schedule win the contract
          2. procurement from vendors
            1. custom services or goods
            2. lowest bid may not win after taking into account maintenance, reliability, etc.
          3. partnerships
            1. sometimes legal (shared profits), sometimes de facto
      5. Technical management – managers technology inherent in project, not the technology the team uses to manage the project.
      6. Quality – the quality of the work processes, not the product.
        1. often paired with the technical manager’s responsibility
      7. Administration
        1. Provide support in accounting, legal services, property management, HR, etc.
        2. these are usually provided by the parent organization.

Questions for Fred

  1. There seem to be a lot of crossover between phases, what would you say the purpose of having phases is if they are so flexible?
  2. Is it common on larger projects to have people whose whole job is for instance project control or project procurement. Do they then not work on the actual deliverables of the project?
  3. Our book discusses partnerships in terms or procurement, does this mean procuring commodities from a partner? Or “procuring” goal achievement? Or something else?
  1. Projects can be divided into many sorts of phases (timeline, geographic, releases, subjects)
    1. Projects can also be broken down into many smaller projects. The overlap between projects is a critical point.
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