1.1 What is a Project?

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A project is a temporary, one-time undertaking that has a definable goal, has interrelated dependencies, and ac, activities and tasks, is finite in duration. You're not gonna get the biggest project anybody could think of at the highest quality level in the industry next Tuesday afternoon for $250. And they have in their new publication, called the Project Management Body of Knowledge, in their latest edition they've said that instead of scope, quality, cost, and time we're going to add two more, risk and resources.

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There’s some fundamentals that we need to discuss, and these are the, the foundational pieces that we all need to plant our feet solidly upon. There are three definitions that get a little bit confusing for people. And we just need to make sure we’re clear for our sessions and our discussions what we mean by these. Every organization needs to be clear on what they mean by these three terms, and we will make sure that we’re clear for our sessions on what we mean. One of them, what’s a project? Another one, what is Project Manager? And another one, what is Project Management? What’s a project? You hear that term a lot and everybody goes, oh, I know what a project is. You need to be very clear about that in an organization. There’s some confusion from time to time, and we’ll mention that here in just a moment. A project is a temporary, one-time undertaking that has a definable goal, has interrelated dependencies, and ac, activities and tasks, is finite in duration. It stops somewhere, it starts somewhere, these things are over with. Ongoing work in an organization just keeps going on and on and on. Projects stop. Sometimes they seem like they will never stop, they seem to have a life of their own and go on forever, but they, at some point, do finish. To some degree they’re going to be unique. In your organization, you may d, do a project this week that was similar to one that you did six months ago. It’s not the same project. There are some different stakeholders. There are some different requirements. Something makes each one of these projects at least a little bit unique, even though quite often we’ll find we do similar projects in the organization. And these things operate under some constraints. So we’ll be talking about what the constraints are for a project and how we work with those. Projects and ongoing work processes, let’s just talk for a moment about those. Ongoing work processes are the things that, in the organization, that get repeated day in and day out. They get repeated over and over. So, we may have a billing process. We’re gonna send out bills to everyone like your utility company. They send a bill out to you periodically, usually every month. That comes in form of paper, or most of the time now, comes electronically. But that happens to every month. They have a process to do that, to get that bill out to you. You pay that bill. They also have a process to receive payments, and that’s either an electronic process or a paper process that just gets repeated over and over and over again. They also have some processes to provide you with electricity. They provide you with power somehow. There are processes to do that, so when you turn on your light switch, light, the lights turn on, you have power. So there are ongoing processes that we all have in all of our organizations. That’s not the world of project management. That typically is the world of process improvement. What we’re looking at with project management, these are things that start, they stop, they have some definitely definable goals. And we have a set of tools for these. We have a process to go through to get a project done, and we have a set of tools that we use to do projects. We’ll be talking about those as we go through these sessions. One of the things about a project is the constraints. We have scope, quality, cost and time targets that we’re going to shoot for. Scope, how big is this project? What does it include? Quality, how good does this thing have to be? Every project has some quality requirements in there. You can think even around your house, you’re gonna do a project, a simple project just to paint one of your rooms in your house. Like my brother-in-law, he just thinks all you have to do is get a paint roller and sorta get close to the door, sorta get close to the ceiling and just paint the wall with the roller and that’s gonna be good enough. And he also thinks that to paint a room, you probably need to dip the roller in that little paint tray one time and then just start rolling the place. And so there’s a little bit of paint at the beginning and there’s no paint by the time he’s done. And then he says, well how come you paint so much better than I do? Well, it just has a different quality requirement of this thing. Every project will have quality requirements throughout the whole project. Cost, once we figure out how big the project is and how good it has to be, then we’re gonna figure out well, to do that, it’s gonna cost this much money, and it will take this amount of time. We can put those four constraints into a little diagram like this. When we start a project, we’ll start with one of these things. If you’re going to teach everybody in the organization one thing about project management, the thing to teach everybody is this. You only have five minutes to teach everybody something, this is what everybody should learn. This is what you need in your head. It’s what your customers need in their head. All your stakeholders, your team, your sponsor, the executives in the organization, everybody needs to understand this piece. What this says is that upfront before a project starts, we say that to do this project at this quality level, it will take this amount of time and cost this much money. Projects simply have tasks that have to be done. People have to do those tasks, people have to take the time to do those tasks, and we have to pay people to do those tasks. And we have to buy the materials and, and the supplies to do those tasks. Sometimes projects are set up so that the scope, quality, cost and time aren’t gonna work. No matter what, a lot of people don’t like to believe this, projects have to obey the laws of the physical universe. Project managers don’t have a magic wand to wave and say, oh, we can just do magic here. We have to all agree, the project manager, the sponsor, the key stakeholders. We have to all agree that yes, we can do that project at that quality, in that time frame for that amount of money. You’re not gonna get the biggest project anybody could think of at the highest quality level in the industry next Tuesday afternoon for $250. That’s not just gonna happen. We have to make sure that these things are realistic. If something happens along the way, which it will, let’s say the scope changes, somebody says oh, you know, while we’re doing this project we just realized there’s something we need to add into the scope. That’s not a problem, not a problem at all. You don’t just throw your hands up and run away screaming. You just say happy to do that, let me see how we’ll do that. And all you need to do is go back and look at the scope, quality, cost and time relationships and adjust one, two, or three of these other constraints so that we can have an increased scope. You can’t change one of these things after we agreed that they’re all gonna work together. You can’t change one of these things without changing at least one of the others, maybe two, or maybe sometimes all three of them. The Project Management Institute is the governing body for Project Management Worldwide. And they have in their new publication, called the Project Management Body of Knowledge, in their latest edition they’ve said that instead of scope, quality, cost, and time we’re going to add two more, risk and resources. And the diagram now looks like this. If we look at risks and resources, they really are a subset of the cost and time piece. We are going to talk about risks and resources in this series, and mostly we will talk about the relationship between scope, quality, cost, and time.

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