4.3 Why manage projects?
It is necessary to develop a specification of what is to be done. (It is important to be aware of the iterative nature of this activity: pilot studies, feasibility studies, the project itself, specifying changes that will inevitably occur while a project is under way, all these result in the need to modify the specification of what is to be done.) In this course we have discussed ways of identifying what is to be done and, at the highest level, how that should be done
Proposals need to be ‘scoped’ (for effort, elapsed time, cost and likely effects) at an early stage. We discussed this briefly at the start of Section 3.1. Projects that continue after a successful review of their proposals also need to have effort, time, cost and effects planned, and dependencies between tasks and between resources and tasks identified.
Once a project is planned and perhaps put out to tender, it is necessary for the relevant parties to agree what is to be done, by when and at what cost – the contract. It may be an informal contract between different departments of the same organisation or a formal, legal instrument drawn up between two or more organisations.
Effort has to be coordinated and communication has to take place among all the ‘players’. It is necessary to organise and manage the team – direct it and coordinate its efforts. It is also necessary to liaise with clients, senior management, potential users and others.
Once a project is under way, it becomes necessary to control the process of getting from plan to reality. Most projects require some degree of change in what they are undertaking even as they progress, so it is also necessary to correct the course of the project in a controlled way.
A disciplined approach is very important in achieving a project’s goals and objectives.