Chapter 1. Introduction to Project Management
1.1 Definition and Key Concepts of Project Management
Projects are defined by PMBOK Guide 6th and 7th editions as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result”. These two characteristics will be detailed in the following section “Project Characteristics”. Besides, key project management concepts, which are constraints, key success factors, project life cycle, project process groups, and knowledge areas, will be delineated.
All of us are engaged in projects on a regular basis in our daily lives, and we use the term “project” frequently in our daily conversations. Although it had not been put forward in an organized way, people have been undertaking projects since the earliest days of organized human activity when our prehistoric ancestors had hunting parties. Large complex undertakings such as the seven wonders of the world including the only surviving artifact, the pyramids of Giza, were also projects. Even something as simple as creating a dinner or picking up your daughter from school can be considered a project. Renovating our house’s garage, planning a Disney vacation for kids, getting married, and achieving a degree, diploma or certificate are all projects as well. One of the common and most utilized project software programs, Microsoft Project Professional 2019, provides a “Wedding Planner” template.
Examples of some projects and their outcomes can be given as planning and executing the summer and winter Olympic games, building the Great Wall of China, developing the COVID-19 vaccine, constructing the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement, preparation, and publication of a journal or a project management textbook, building the Suez Canal, development of a commercial jet airplane such as Airbus A380 and Boeing 787, developing or modifying software packages, and successfully launching the Hubble Space Telescope. Besides these far-famed projects, Project Management Institute’s (PMI) web pages on “PMI Project of the Year Award” and “Most Influential Projects” would be very helpful to be familiar with some of the recent ongoing or successful, and influential projects implemented all across the world.
Organizations of all shapes and sizes continue to transform the ways they innovate and deliver to continuously improve customer satisfaction levels. If an organization wants to increase its revenue and profit, gain more market share, increase the number of loyal customers, and ultimately obtain a stronghold in its market, it needs to plan and execute projects that will lead to and drive change rather than just performing and relying on routine daily tasks. If we have a grocery market, selling the same products every day to the customers would help us maintain the profits at a level we can survive. However, consider that there is another grocery market started to operate in our neighborhood. Besides traditional in-person shopping, we all witness a significant surge in electronic commerce websites’ product portfolio and sales (e.g., web-based businesses such as Amazon and AliExpress, click and mortar businesses such as Walmart and Target). Together, both factors, a grocery market in the neighborhood and e-commerce websites, could lead to a downward trend in sales and profit for our grocery market. Thus, even to protect our current position, we may have to come up with new ideas that have not been implemented by us before. We can add new brands to our shelves, offer new product lines, expand the store to accommodate more products, offer promotions to attract more customers, create social media and YouTube videos, launch a new e-commerce website, or establish a partnership with food delivery companies such as Grubhub and Uber eats. All of these ideas require preparing a business case to evaluate the feasibility of these ideas. If we decide to proceed with this idea, we can initiate a project to generate outcomes that would produce tangible and intangible benefits for our grocery market. Disruption is the new normal, but when an organization introduces change, it must be done correctly. Succeeding in such turbulent times means organizations cannot afford to waste precious resources on failed projects. This is the primary reason why many organizations recognize tools, techniques, and processes associated with project management, and implement a systematic project management approach relying on best practices and lessons learned.