Project Management

Kevin Kraft
Webster's Dictionary defines "Project Management" as "The process of planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling the production of a system," many organizations however don't take the time to maximize their project management. The majority of small and medium organizations use verbal communication to plan their projects, not realizing that projects can be completed faster and more efficient with a defined structure. Many workflow issues can be resolved by improving the way you manage your projects. The size of an organization is not relevant when it comes to improving and formalizing your project management structure. The smoother and quicker your projects are completed, the more motivated your team will be and more efficient in bringing new products to the market.

We need to break down project management into some of its basic key elements to identify how we can improve its efficiency. Planning in what order certain tasks need to be completed with respect to other tasks as well as the defining of realistic deadlines. Organizing how your team will communicate with one-another, designate contact persons, and key responsibilities. Staffing and managing resources, to ensure the rest of your plan can be implemented. Without using computers and modern forms of communication, projects are nearly impossible to manage while staying on the competitive edge.

It is important that project managers are chosen correctly. They need to have enough technical knowledge and when they have a technical background it is even better. Promoting programmers, graphic designers, or server administrators, for example should be considered. Project managers also need leadership skills; leading the team to the goal while building and helping team members to develop themselves further.

Many corporations develop their own project management platforms. Due to large development and maintenance costs, this option is for most of us out of the question. There are several off-the-shelf software packages that could assist you without the dealing with development issues. Tutos is a strong web-based application and the desktop-based Microsoft Project are two options which may be of interest.

The Ultimate Team Organization Software, also known as Tutos, is a complete project management software solution, it even includes a scheduling tool, and address book. Tutos is a PHP-based platform, maintained and administered through a web interface. It is relative easy to install and the license itself is free of charge. Tutos can be installed within a short time on any system that runs apache web server. Since it is PHP based, add-ons and modifications can be programmed fairly quickly by in-house programmers. Its navigation however can be confusing.

Although there are those who are opposed to Microsoft and its products, Microsoft has developed a very powerful project management software package; Microsoft Project. It consists of a desktop application and a server application which connects the workstation to share project information. The server application, Microsoft Project Server, also provides web access, which enables you to check up on projects while you are on the road. Microsoft has made it compatible with other Microsoft Office products, such as Outlook. Unfortunately the Microsoft solution is rather expensive and the setup is complex. Setup costs are in the thousands, but well worth it if implemented correctly.

Project management does not only affect actual performance but also motivates your employees. Taking an active response to improve your project management is not to be taken lightly. In most cases it does not happen in a week or even a month. If you decide to use a software package to help with this task, be prepared to learn, and keep committed to it, or else it will fail.