AQA Information and Communication Technology/ICT4/Project Management

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A project is a set of activities with a defined goals that comes to an end at some point. That is, a project has finite length. A typical project team will comprise individuals with different skills and experience.

A projects will have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Specified objectives
  • Specific budgets
  • Specified schedule
  • Temporary teams

Projects are lead by the project manager. The project manager does not need any technical skills as their role is to plan and manage the activities the technical specialists on the team must perform, not to perform this work themselves. However, it is normal for a project manager to have at least some background in the technical areas as this makes their job easier. The project manager plans the project, identifies and manages risks, issues and changes, assembles the team and ensures they are engaged on the right activities. The project manager monitors and controls project progress and reports the status to the sponsors of the project. The project manager sometimes controls budgets, prepares performance appraisals and acts as an intermediary between the users, the managers and the developers. In some cases the project team will have a line manager who is not the project manager - the project manager having only matrix responsibility for them. In these cases the project manager would not prepare performance appraisals.

The project manager assembles the development team and has to balance the size. Small teams have shorter lines of communication, are more agile and easier to manage. Larger teams can deliver more work at the cost of a higher management overhead and greater communication problems. These communication problems can lead to serious problems where different parts of the team are not fully synchronised.

The characteristics of a good team are:

  • The leadership provides inspiration and motivation
  • Tasks are allocated well (the best person for each job)
  • Standards are set and observed (procedures, documentation, etc.)
  • The costs, schedules and progression of the project are monitored and controlled.

The project plan should cover a task definition (what needs to be done), skill identification (who can do it) and training (who needs to be able to do what).