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General Project Management Principles PDF
(105 votes, average 3.28 out of 5)
Written by Amit Kumar   
Thursday, 16 April 2009 06:00

General Project Management Principles
that apply to all projects

Change is inevitable and the project cannot be isolated from the change that an organization can go due to external environment. The project manager must keep up with the changes in management practices and technology. Technology projects are relatively complex as they bring difficulties from technology, people, tasks and management.

Cleland and King (1993) suggested that the managers of complex projects should possess the following attributes:

  • Knowledge of Technology in relation to project products
  • Understanding of the concepts of Management
  • Interpersonal Styles to get things done
  • Ability to see the project as an open system and understand the external internal interactions

And the fifth point could be to understand the people and social context in which the project will operate.

Why knowledge of Technology is important?

The Project Manager is not expected to have a detailed understanding of the technology, however it is important that he or she understands at the high level the technical solution and the technology involved. The meaning is simple, a construction project manager who should not manage IT projects. Even though an IT infrastructure project manager should not manage a development project unless spends time to grasps the technology involved, stages of development and the solution. In such situations, it is helpful to get hold of the technical solution and understand fully what technology is used and the risks involved.

In short, a project manager is accountable for the technical credibility.

Basic Concepts that do not change for Project Management

Every manager’s day-to-day job requires deciding and doing. They need to be able to mobilize technology and resources in efficient way to achieve task completion and high performance. They do this through the basic process of management- planning, organizing, leading and controlling (P-O-L-C). 

Through planning, the manager sets the objectives and determines what actions should be taken to accomplish them. The plans drawn will fail if the proper implementation is not organized. This requires assigning tasks, allocating resources, and arranging activities to implement the plans. Through organizing, the manager brings plans to action. Through Leading, they maintain commitment to the organization vision and enthusiasm within teams to carryout the tasks, provide proper direction and keep the tasks aligned to the organizational goals. Through controlling, the manager will measure the success and failure of the implementation of the plans, evaluate the performance, develop improvement strategies and plans and take corrective actions. They remain in contact with the team members through out the task execution and collect reports on performance for actions and change to the existing plans.

The above management process is a very broad description of what a manager should use in order to manage. However, these broad classifications should be further fragmented into daily activities. Henry Mintzberg (1988) outlined that a manager on day to day basis manages information, people and action within and outside the business unit or organization. This was later called ‘Model of Managerial Work’.

The model acknowledges that the role of a project manager is dependent upon the activities that are either internal or external to the  organization or functional unit. The project manager has certain positional powers when he is dealing with situations that are internal to the organization, hence he has better control over the activities and can directly influence them.  He has little control over the tasks that extend beyond his organization/unit, his personality, communication and relationships become more prominent factors in getting things done. These differences become quite evident in the figure provided here.

These underlying concepts remain same for project management but adjusted as suitable. Every project is deemed to have at least two stages: Development and Implementation. The development stage would use the defining (PD – Project Definition) and Planning processes; however implementation stage would use Organizing, Controlling and Closing processes. Each of these processes would have tasks and deliverable.  These are depicted in summary as below (based on PMI standard):

 

 

Essential qualities of a Project Manager

The project manager should be at the least an effective communicator and team manager. He or she should be able to:

  • Listen others and provide feedback
  • Select right people
  • Delegate tasks and manage the team effectively
  • Build trust and confidence
  • Know what is required and when
  • Persistently approach to obtain information and timely communicate
  • Negotiate with the project teams, client and suppliers

The style of the project manager should be task and people oriented.  He should be more an ‘action manager’ and focus on getting things done and provide adequate support and guidance to his team.

Projects are open systems

A system by definition is a set of interrelated components that accepts inputs and produces outputs in a purposeful manner.

Projects operate within an organization and have defined boundary of what lies within and outside. The boundary helps to define the scope of the project and often has an interaction with the external entities. This is why they are called open systems. The changes from outside of the project boundary can have impact on the project scope. Thus, this external linkage is important. For example, during economic recessions, the organizations activities contract and as a result current projects can be put on hold or asked to deliver reduced functionality due to financial cut backs. In other cases, the client keeps on asking for more functionality outside of the contracted requirements. Thus, the ability of managing changes is key in open systems projects.

The open systems approach enables manager to examine the context in which they make decisions. It is easy to ignore the external influences and take decisions, thus shrinking the magnitude of the problem.

Thus, a functional manager uses analytical approach, while a project manager uses systems approach.

What about external relationships?

Understanding people in everyday relationships in organizations is important. It is important to understand the role of society and law that can impact the projects and dictate how they should be managed. The systems approach would let us identify these external influences and strategy to manage them can be devised.  For example, a project that provokes the society can be managed by educating or a project that lays off people during and after completion as technology is replacing people; then appropriate redundancy procedures to be followed, unions to be managed along with the emotions of the laid off employees.

Thus, it is important to understand the social context within which the project operates.

Conclusion

The criticality of the project occurs early in the project, thus it is important that we:

  • Understand the technology
  • Understand the management principles
  • Defined the high level boundary of the project
  • Carefully defined and plan what stages should the project undergo
  • Have identified a suitable project manager

 

Comments (12)
  • jinnah kachina lahai-Sierra Le  - you gave what you have
    your input is highly acknowledged,thanks for putting together such a brilient
    explanation.
  • abigail oware akrasi  - project management
    5. Identify and explain basic project cost management principles in Information
    technology Project management
  • joanne lane
    I was looking for information that covered the responsibility of the project
    manager communicating to the people involved in the project. Is this not a very
    important role?
  • Anonymous
    Could yo kindly discuss the social economic and political influences on a
    project
  • AZZAM HUSNI KHANDAQJI  - Duties




    Hello . please need more explanation about duties of ( project manager & general
    project manager ) who is the responsible one of all project managers



    Thanks
  • Anonymous  - re: A GREAT JOB DONE
    ADEYANJU AYODELE IFY wrote:
    Hi you have indeed done a great job by explaining the general project management
    principles. thanks this help students like my self.
    bye, cheers.
  • Aron Molel  - PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS ON PROJECT PLANNING AND MA
    1)What are the importance of principles and concepts in project planning and
    management?
  • Rathy Chheng  - Feedback
    I love your explanation very much because I can understand with your detail
    point, but is it the last update of project management? Is it similar with
    project management tree? Can I have the sample of project management role, or
    things to do and things not to do. Thanks very much for your input.
  • suji  - project management principals
    plz answer for this what r the modern management principals
  • Rajesh Kumar
    Dear Ashim Sir,

    It's nice piece of information. But, I am having few problems with this article.
    The meaning of the yellow para is not clear (See below). And, I think selection
    of few words could be improved if they are replaced by other words. Another
    problem- It is easy to ignore the external influences and take decisions, thus shrinking(magnifying) the magnitude of the problem. I think it will magnify the risk, if
    not please explain.





    The meaning is simple, a construction project manager who should not manage IT
    projects. Even though an IT infrastructure project manager should not manage a
    development project unless spends time to grasps the technology involved, stages
    of development and the solution

    In short, a project manager is accounted (accountable) for the technical credibility.

    The style of this person to(should) be task and people oriented. This person should be more an ‘action
    manager’ and focuses on getting things done, however relies on its team (Incomplete thought).

    For example, a project that provokes the society can be managed by educating or
    a project that lays off people during and after completion as technology is
    replacing people; then appropriate redundancy procedures to be followed, unions
    to be managed along with the emotions of the laid off employees.

    Thanks and regard,

    Rajesh Kumar





  • ADEYANJU AYODELE IFY  -  A GREAT JOB DONE
    Hi you have indeed done a great job by explaining the general project management
    principles. thanks this help students like my self.

    bye, cheers.
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