Whether it’s a full scale production like the Olympics, or planning with your brother to do a half marathon as I did last year to get fitter and raise money for charity, it’s a project. It is usually helpful for a team or indeed an organisation to differentiate between processes (the systematic execution of repetitive activities) and projects, the one time execution of more or less unique activities. Uncertainty is built into every project, since each one is unique and complex, based on assumptions and dependencies, and delivering change through people.
Project management is the discipline of planning, organising, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals and objectives while honouring the preconceived constraints.
The Association for Project Management defines it this way:project management is the way of managing change. Projects are separate to business-as-usual activities, requiring people to come together temporarily to focus on specific project objectives.
A project has a specific start and end point and is set up to meet specific objectives, to create a specified result, product or service. What’s interesting in project management terms is that whilst the technical aspects of project management are evidently important like project planning, writing status reports and  budgeting, invariably the people skills are at least as or more important: effective leadership, dealing with the politics of external stakeholders, getting the right team on board in the first instance and team work.


The attached 4 stage model of project management (click on the image for a larger size) is been based on the principles of PRINCE2 which is a nationally recognised standard for managing projects in the public sector.
Stage 4 – formally closing the project in a controlled manner with a project closure report and post completion review to identify lessons learnt. This is a very brief outline of the process – simply a structured approach to what you would probably do instinctively anyway – but which does help Project managers and project teams stand back and take stock of progress. Power: the need to address issues around power; how do you manage power dynamics within projects?
We liaise with our clients at every point of the process through a dedicated project manager. A staggering number of projects fail in organisations, or succeed but are wildly over initial budget.  All projects are risky, whether it’s the impossibility of delivering the business case, or the change is too great. In today’s world, one off projects are gaining more and more importance for various reasons including the need for innovation and nimbleness due to fast paced competition, the need for more customisation in response to customer needs, and constant re-structures and mergers. A project is a temporary endeavour with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. It describes the activities that meet specific objectives and can be used to introduce or improve new or existing products and services.


I managed an E-learning project in the Social care sector for years, and when we went through a huge growth phase 2 years in, I just couldn’t deal with getting out to run sessions on lap tops; I scratched my head, and thought there must be another way of doing this. I was involved in a national heart disease prevention campaign 20 years ago which promised huge reductions in mortality and morbidity: even though the targets were set in good faith, there was a weather eye on funding and making high predictions to support the case!
Our current environment requires constant change, and implementing change requires the need to manage projects. This means that the probability of success for any project is less than 100%, so there is always the possibility of failure. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. The secondary —and more ambitious— challenge is to optimise the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet defined objectives.



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