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Project Management: How Scope, Time, and CostResearch Paper

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Project Management: How Scope, Time, and Cost Work Together to Define a Project

Managing a project can mean everything from the initial idea stage all the way through to the finished product. With that in mind, it is very important to understand what goes into the project, and how it should be guided from one phase to the next. For those who plan projects and manage them, that guidance is vital to make sure the project stays on track (Cattani, et al., 2011). Often, projects end up failing not because they were bad ideas or because they would not have been valuable, but because they are mis-managed (Nokes, 2007). That can start to be a problem from the very beginning, or it can be something that is not seen until a certain stage. Either way, bad management can quickly derail any project and send it right off the tracks. That harms the people who could have benefitted from the finished product that the project was designed to create, and also harms the people who envisioned the project and have been working on it (Stevens, 2002).

Companies have ended up out of business because of things like poor project management, so it is something that the majority of companies seek to avoid (Cattani, et al., 2011). Fortunately, it is possible to avoid poor project management in most cases, by ensuring that the right people are working on the project and there are checkpoints and benchmarks being met at every stage (Stevens, 2002). While that seems simple, doing it can help ensure that the project and the company see success, which is highly valuable in making sure the project moves forward and reaches its intended completion (Stevens, 2002). To that end, scope, time, and cost are the three most important aspects of a project. They work with one another and with other aspects to make certain that a project remains on the right track and is completed at the proper time and with the right budget.

The Planning of a Project

The planning of a project begins with an idea (Dinsmore, et al., 2005). That idea could be from a customer, a vendor, the head of the company, or anyone else. No matter who came up with the idea, if it is a good one it should be considered and made into something that will be useful to customers at a later date (Dinsmore, et al., 2005). Not every idea turns into a project, of course, because some ideas, after careful consideration, will not provide enough benefit to make them cost-effective. Because of that, the possible project idea has to be carefully analyzed in a number of ways, before it can be determined whether it is an idea that will be used to develop a project (Stevens, 2002). For the ideas that take hold, however, moving forward with them can make or break a company. These ideas must be sound, and they must have been considered from the widest variety of angles to ensure that the company is not taking too much of a risk by using them and planning a project around them (Dinsmore, et al., 2005). Many ideas fall apart at the analysis stage.

Once an idea has been agreed upon, the real planning of the project can begin. Any idea that is good enough to be used on the creation of a new project is going to mean trial and error (Lock, 2007). That is where the design and testing phases come into play throughout the management of a project. The product that is being created from the idea can and should be designed in several different ways, so all of those options can be tested (Lock, 2007). That is true whether the product is something tangible, or something that will be delivered wirelessly, such as software. For IT companies, the stakes are very high when it comes to project management, because there is so much competition and the race is on to provide something new and innovative (Cattani, et al., 2011). With that in mind, these companies often work overtime on their project management goals.

Types of Project Management

There are several different types of project management, in that there are a number of approaches that can be considered. Knowing what approach to use can make or break a project, especially at the beginning stages when there is a lot of planning being done (Ireland, 2006). That is not to say that the approach to the type of project cannot be changed at a later date, but it can be difficult for that to be done with some projects (Ireland, 2006). It is much better to ensure that the project has the highest chance of success right from the beginning, which means choosing the approach that will be taken to the project and keeping that approach all throughout the project's lifecycle. The traditional approach is the one that is most commonly used for projects, and it consists of initiation, planning and design, execution and construction, monitoring and controlling systems, and completion (Cattani, et al., 2011). While that works well for most projects, it is not the right choice for all of them. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options.

Some projects do not follow a structure at all, and many are terminated before they reach completion, for a variety of reasons (Nokes, 2007). For projects that are out of the norm or that require a different approach, companies may want to consider PRINCE2, critical chain project management, lean project management, agile project management, process-based management, extreme project management, or benefits realization management (Cattani, et al., 2011). Each one of these models and approaches has been used with success, depending on the kind of project being undertaken and what is needed to ensure it is handled successfully. The right approach for a particular project is not always traditional, and companies that are willing to think outside of the box on how they approach their project management are more likely to see success with that project (Dinsmore, et al., 2005).

The Scope of a Project

Among the most important issues of a project is the scope of it. If the scope is not clearly envisioned and understood, the project is less likely to see a high rate of success (Stevens, 2002). That could lead to the project being abandoned before completion, and could even cost the company a great deal of money in the long run. If that money is something the company does not really have, it could lead to financial problems from which the company cannot recover, which could cause the company to go out of business (Cattani, et al., 2011). While that is an extreme case and not something that often happens, it is a possibility, especially for smaller companies or those that take on significantly large projects that could be life-changing for their business (Dinsmore, et al., 2005). Understanding the scope of the project is also important because it allows those who are working on the project to determine whether there are different ways to address any issues that are occurring with that project (Dinsmore, et al., 2005). That can be vital to success.

Often, the scope of a project is not managed correctly because it is not properly understood. It may be seen as though there is only one small issue to address, but once the project is being worked on and planned, it could be seen that the scope is much larger (Cattani, et al., 2011). That changes the entire project, and can require more money, more time, and more people to handle the project properly. If the scope of a project changes a great deal, it may even be that the project will have to be broken up into more than one project, or abandoned altogether (Lock, 2007). That is why the scope of a project is so very important from the beginning, and why businesses that are undertaking new projects will want to focus on the scope before they consider anything else (Lock, 2007). The scope of the project must be clearly defined before the project moves forward.

Time Required for a Project

Time is another vital factor in project management, because the time required for a project is not something that can be too easily adjusted (Stevens, 2002). Most projects are created with a set timeline, and that timeline often has to be extended. Rarely does a project get completed in a shorter amount of time than what was expected, so estimating the length of time for the project and then adding to that time is a choice companies often make to help ensure they have enough time to complete the project properly (Cattani, et al., 2011). Companies that make estimates for their project management time and then have to keep extending that time can struggle in the marketplace, because their product launch date will keep getting pushed back (Cattani, et al., 2011). Naturally, individuals or other companies that are waiting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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