Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor 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. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of these two systems is often quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.
The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals and objectives while honoring the preconceived constraints. Typical constraints are scope, time, and budget. The secondary—and more ambitious—challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet pre-defined objectives.
Critical chain project management
Main article: Critical chain project management
Critical chain project management (CCPM) is a method of planning and managing project execution designed to deal with uncertainties inherent in managing projects, while taking into consideration limited availability of resources (physical, human skills, as well as management & support capacity) needed to execute projects.
CCPM is an application of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) to projects. The goal is to increase the flow of projects in an organization (throughput). Applying the first three of the five focusing steps of TOC, the system constraint for all projects is identified as are the resources. To exploit the constraint, tasks on the critical chain are given priority over all other activities. Finally, projects are planned and managed to ensure that the resources are ready when the critical chain tasks must start, subordinating all other resources to the critical chain.
The project plan should typically undergo resource leveling, and the longest sequence of resource-constrained tasks should be identified as the critical chain. In some cases, such as managing contracted sub-projects, it is advisable to use a simplified approach without resource leveling.
In multi-project environments, resource leveling should be performed across projects. However, it is often enough to identify (or simply select) a single “drum”. The drum can be a resource that acts as a constraint across projects, which are staggered based on the availability of that single resource.
One can also use a “virtual drum” by selecting a task or group of tasks (typically integration points) and limiting the number of projects in execution at that stage.
Professional Development for Project Managers
Professional development is important for Project Managers whether they are starting out or have years of experience in the field. Sometimes the best development opportunities are found overseas. The Project Management Institute provides information on professional development opportunities at home and abroad.