The Emphasis of Project Management in Today’s Businesses
By Sherif Ramadan
The dilemma faced by many businesses today is dealing with one-time business impediments that can slow down or otherwise jeopardize regular business operations. This is no longer stereotypical of large organizations, but has become alarmingly evident in a growing number of small businesses as well.
Any business is fundamentally designed to operate on a systematic structure. It is because of this very system that certain operations can impede on, or interfere with, every-day business activities. For example, it is common for Dell Computers to produce and ship new computer units each day. This process is critical for the business to function. Without computers to sell the organization would not be profitable and thus could not continue to operate. However, it is not common for the organization to create a new computer model each day. Yet, a new product launch is a necessary business operation. Simply put, it is a matter of priorities.
Managers have become increasingly drawn to project management, some times referred to as Management by Projects, over the years since industrialization. The discrepancy is that projects are provisional in scale, whereas organizational processes are enduring, and so the problem is resolved through the integration of the two systems in a parallel demeanor. This means they work side-by-side, but not necessarily interdependent of one another.
Projects have a definite beginning and end. They are not continuous processes, as in the case of production or distribution, and so they are only conducted once to meet specific objectives. When the project is complete it is abandoned and the members working on the project move on to other projects, return to their original departments, or leave the organization. Projects ultimately create a rippling effect in organizational processes. However, the residual effects of such projects can be controlled and predetermined through project management.
Returning to the former production example at a computer manufacturer like Dell Computers, we can more clearly realize the impeding effects new projects would have on daily business operations. If a new computer model is introduced this would cause the implementation of a new product line. In this case, the product launch in itself is the project managers — at Dell — must undergo. After the new computer model has been designed, marketed, and the product line becomes operational — all objectives have been met and the project is complete. Meanwhile the organization continues regular daily operations (i.e. producing and distributing its computers).
The impediment here could be a number of circumstances that may arise due to the initiation of this project. For example, creating a new product line may involve ordering and installing new machinery which could delay production for some time. Engineers may need to restructure the facility, integrate e-manufacturing software, and possibly even train workers for the operation of the new machinery. Any delays presented by the project may cause further delays in the organization’s regular operations.
That is why managers need to apply effective project management when dealing with such business operations. This will involve coordinating with the different organizational departments, creating timetables, following up on progress reports, keeping track of load charts and PERT network analyses, planning for disaster recovery, and anticipating the need to hire more employees or possibly recruiting personnel from within the different organizational departments.
The primary goal of project management is to meet all the objectives of a given project within the project budget and deadline without interfering with the business’ daily operations. An efficient and effective project manager, for example, could coordinate with suppliers and engineers so that the new machinery for the product line would be delivered and installed — in parts — without halting production completely. Perhaps the machinery can be assembled as the integration of an existing line or at a different site all-together. The workers could also be asked to work overtime so that they may become familiar with the machinery as it is being readied for the new line. This will greatly reduce slack time without rudimentary production losses.
The importance of project management is becoming rapidly apparent in all types of businesses. It is the responsibility of leaders and managers to recognize the potential use that project management has on their business.
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