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Project Definition – definitions

  • Projects are temporary in nature and have a beginning and end date.
  • A project has a set of objectives.
  • A project has an organisation structure.
  • A project has resources — used to create the deliverables or products.
  • These products may be tangible or intangible.
  • The end-product all deliverables, must have the potential, or capability to realize business benefits.
  • Each project is unique in some way.

By way of a comparison, operational business is ongoing and repetitive. Operational business is carrying out similar operations each day in order to keep the organisation functioning. Examples of an operational job might be the head of a department, or a service group, or a line manager.

These are the project definition skills that a project manager needs:

  • Problem-solving
  • Understanding of project management techniques
  • a good background in general management
  • an empathy with the nature or industry of the project
  • Here are the most important skills in detail, that the project manager MUST have:

Communication skills

  • These should be both written and oral.
  • The project managers communication skills will be summarise in the communication plan:
  • Who are the stakeholders both internal and external?
  • what are their major interest areas with the project and its outcome?
  • what information will be of most interest to each of them?
  • Who, and how, will that information be gathered?
  • Who will give the information to the Stakeholders?
  • When do they want the information, or how often?
  • How will the information be given to them?

The project manager carrying out project definition should ensure that both information coming out from the project, and information coming back into the project is covered in the above plan.

project definition – Organizational and planning skills

There is much organising to do within a project. These will include:

  • Organising meetings
  • Assembling teams
  • Public relations
  • Project documentation
  • Project reports
  • Project registers and logs
  • Quotes and contracts
  • Meetings
  • Requirements, specifications, and project Scope
  • Develop schedules
  • Organising also needs excellent time management skills.

It goes without saying, that planning skills are vital and should be identified in project definition.

project definition – Budgeting skills

  • The project manager will need some knowledge of accounting and finance principles.
  • Of particular interest is budgeting and cost control. These will include estimating skills.
  • Budgeting and contracts will need to be understood by the project manager to remain in control.

project definition – Conflict management skills

All projects will have risks, issues, and conflicts. For this reason, problem-solving skills are vital.

The project manager will want to develop a structured method for problem resolution as part of project definition.

As each new problem arises, the project manager will want to define it accurately, and perform and impact analysis, before determining the correct type of action.

The project manager will also be responsible for either implementing the actions themselves, or escalating the problem is required. All actions should be implemented in a timely manner.

project definition – Negotiation and influencing skills

Some people are natural negotiators while others are not. However it can be learned. Negotiation put simply, is getting two sides, with different needs, to come to an agreement. Good negotiation will result in both side’s being satisfied by the outcome — probably with some compromise.

Negotiation will be a continuous activity from the beginning to the end of the project.

Being able to influence others is another key skill.

Influencing is the ability to get others to do what you want, even when they have a different opinion. There are two key parts of this:

Politics. This involves getting people with different goals and interests to cooperate

Power. This is the ability to get people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise, by getting them to change their minds.

Leadership skills

Managers concentrate on results and getting the job done, whereas leaders have a vision of a future state, gain agreement, inspire, and motivate others.

Teambuilding and motivating skills

The project manager will often needs to lead teams who have a different line manager, and come from different parts of the organisation.

The teams may not have worked together before, and the negotiating and influencing skills mentioned before, will be needed to form the team, and develop them into an effective unit.

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David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for US multinationals and now develops a wide range of project-related downloadable video training products under the Primer brand. In addition, David runs training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management. He currently lives in the Philippines with his wife Jude.

Hope you enjoyed my project definition article!