A Project Management Methodology for Multimedia Projects
Analysis of Existing Strategies and Creation of a New Concept
Eine Diplomarbeit von Stefan Hartweg
projects. More and more people have been analysing the management of projects in order to streamline the processes involved, as well as to ensure that the best tools and practices are utilised to develop and deliver products on time and within budget. People have introduced frameworks, processes, methods and methodologies for project management to give guidance to project managers and the right tools to master their day-to-day tasks. However, whilst a lot of attention has been given to the development of project management processes in IT and software development, the related area of multimedia production has only received minor interest in defining a standard for the task of project management, which makes the development of multimedia applications a risky business both for the client and the production company. This paper deals specifically with project management in multimedia development. The aim of this paper, after describing the process of gaining an understanding of the requirements to manage multimedia projects, is to present a strategy to analyse existing project management methods in regards to their suitability for multimedia projects. Furthermore, one existing method will be taken as an example and recommendations will be made on how best to adapt this method to suit the management of multimedia production. This thesis paper has been written as part of the curriculum of the Medieninformatik (applied computer science and media) course at the Fachhochschule Furtwangen (University for Applied Sciences, Furtwangen) and was kindly guided and supported by Prof. Dr. Christoph Zydorek and Prof. Dr. Fritz Steimer. Thanks also needs to be given to Mr. Bruce Hodgen, senior consultant and lecturer at Griffith university, who initially sparked my interest in project management and who was not only prepared to provide me with his view on the
subject but also helped me out with materials that were not readily accessible through the university library. Redefine and DCG deserve mention and thanks, as they were the only two multimedia development agencies in Brisbane that were willing to share an overview of their project management method. The thesis has been mostly developed and written in Brisbane, Australia. The final revision has been undertaken in the German hometown of the author.
overview of the problem in multimedia project management will be given, followed by a description of the further structure of this document. Furthermore, the initial hypotheses and resulting findings of this thesis will be described briefly. The term multimedia will be defined and different types of multimedia applications will be mentioned. In the area of project management there is some confusion in regard to the uniform usage of certain terms. These terms will be explained to avoid misunderstandings.
2.1 The Topic of this Thesis
I came into contact with project management during my studies of Medieninformatik at the Fachhochschule Furtwangen in Germany. At that time, I regarded project management as yet another couple of dozen pages containing text and diagrams that I had to learn in order to pass the exam at the end of the semester. Two semesters later, I had the chance to leave Germany and to study a multimedia course a Griffith University in Australia. The curriculum of this course included a two semester (almost a calendar year) long project, where small groups of four to six students worked with an industry partner to create a multimedia product. After the students had been divided into groups, we were required to set the basic roles within the project team. With no one else in the team being overly keen on taking on the part as project manager and me already having had a lecture on project management, it didn’t require long discussion until I was assigned the role of project manager. The lecturers for the project had created Multimedia
Pathways 1 , which they prescribed as the project management method to use in our projects, as it contained all the necessary templates for documentation. We were also provided with a calendar that showed the due dates of the different documents, as well as prototype and product presentations. Brutal honesty would describe the project overall as a disaster: the team was basically rushing from one due date for documentation to the next; barely able to fill the gaps in the templates let alone anything else. Close to the supposed project hand over we finally had to admit, despite research and prototyping at the beginning of the project, that the most important feature did not work and perform properly and that there was no solution available to fix the problems, which resulted in a rather poor quick fix with less functionality. This led to tensions within the team, liberal laying of blame for not having done a proper job in the first place, as well as the delay of planned tasks, because previous tasks had to be redone or took longer than initially expected. More issues arose when the client presented a list of further items, which, in their opinion, did not fulfil the original agreement. The student team on the other hand pointed towards the product specification description in the design document and tried to make it clear that the requirements had been fulfilled according to what had been specified. The different interpretations from team and company regarding the textual specification could not be resolved. In the end, the product was not handed over to the client because they were not prepared to pay a license fee for a product that did not meet their requirements. In talks with the other student groups it became apparent that similar problems had occurred during their projects as well, especially regarding the abundance of documentation, agreeing on the product specification and exceeding the initial estimated task durations by far.
It is fair to say that these problems also exist within the professional multimedia industry. While problems in student projects allow students the possibility to learn from their mistakes and gather experience, these same issues could well destroy a company. When changes occur in specification during the project, when rework needs to be done, when tasks take longer than anticipated, then projects tend to overrun their initial budgets - and at the moment this approach seems to be far more common than being paid on a time required basis. This then becomes a serious issue for the producer because they have to either find a way to convince their client to take on the additional costs or carry them themselves, which can financially ruin the company, especially if it happens in several projects. It is the responsibility of the project management to deal with these issues and to make sure that the project will be completed successfully, i.e. in time, on budget and high quality. The project managers need to be equipped with a set of processes, tools and strategies that allow them to efficiently avoid and if necessary address and solve problems as described above. The combination of these is generally described as a project management method or framework and have been developed both as generic and specific solutions. This paper tries to define a concept for managing multimedia projects efficiently and takes the suitability of existing methods into account. Developing a valid solution makes it necessary to look at project management as a generic discipline first and then apply the results to the multimedia discipline. Only then can we be sure that no important aspects of project management have been forgotten, nor that existing and working strategies, which could be applied to multimedia projects, have been ignored. This paper therefore defines project management and generally describes its areas of responsibility. The question of whether project management is necessary and beneficial needs to be addressed as well. After project management and the necessity to actively apply it in some form has been understood in general, a specific focus on the existing information for multimedia project management will be undertaken. It will become apparent that different viewpoints exist as to whether multimedia project management should apply project management methods of related industry areas, such as software
development. This will justify the need to compare multimedia projects with software development projects. After having gained an insight into project management as well as the characteristics of multimedia projects, it is possible to determine the demands that a project management method needs to be able to meet, to successfully manage multimedia projects. It would be beyond the scope of this thesis to analyse every existing method. Instead, one method will be analysed as an example. The useful aspects of the analysed method will be identified along with its shortfalls in relation to multimedia development. Finally, recommendations on how the shortfalls could be corrected will be made, so that a project manager will be able to use the examined method, specifically suited to multimedia projects. As already mentioned in the preface, most of the work for this paper was conducted in Brisbane, Australia and using the research resources that were available to the author there, mainly the Griffith university library, internet and email, as well as a small number of interviews and face to face discussions. The materials utilised and information contained in this paper are mostly drawn from the information, knowledge and experience available for the English market. German literature could not be taking into consideration, due to lack of accessibility and the finite time frame.
2.2 Hypotheses and Findings
This chapter outlines the main hypotheses and the findings of the thesis. The hypotheses were established before the actual development of this paper and formed the initial justification for conducting further research on this topic. The findings presented here were developed during the research and analysis process and are presented in greater depth in the subsequent chapters. Project management is necessary and beneficial:
In the course of the thesis, it can be proofed that this hypothesis is correct. After the basic components of project management have been outlined in Chapter 4, it is possible to analyse the beneficial effects in Chapter 5. Here it becomes apparent that an informal approach to project management is applied by people to successfully conduct projects naturally. The additional benefits of having a formal
method, such as being able to coordinate larger projects and to facilitate planning, quality control and communication are detailed.
It becomes clear that traditional project management shares little similarities with multimedia project management, after comparing construction development with multimedia development in Chapter 7. In traditional project management, the phases of the life cycle can be separated more clearly. This is different from multimedia productions, especially for the design and development/construction phases, because the specifications of a multimedia project are harder to define.
management exist; multimedia projects can thus not be managed with an unadapted software project management method:
During the analysis of existing material on multimedia project management, it already became apparent that different opinions as to whether the same methods can be applied to both multimedia and software projects exist. This is taken further in Chapter 7, where software development projects are compared to multimedia projects. It is shown that the software project life cycle can be similar to the life cycle of a multimedia project. Software development however only forms one component of multimedia development. The processes used in software projects can therefore not automatically be transferred and applied to multimedia projects.
The research for existing and useful information, as described in Chapter 6, proofed that there is not a lot available on multimedia project management. Only a small amount of relevant written material could be found. This situation was further aggravated by the reluctance of the Australian multimedia developing industry, which at large parts were not prepared to provide insight into their project management practices and to support this thesis with their practical experience.
The available information will not be comprehensive enough to describe a full project management method for multimedia projects. This will justify the development of new concept:
The analysis of the existing material showed that no project management method for multimedia exists that can be applied as is. Most of the information does not qualify as being a management method in the first place. Some of the sources describe the life cycle component, while others provide information on the knowledge areas required in multimedia. While this is useful information, a comprehensive description of the required processes, including how they interact with each other, and their application during the stages of the project life cycle has not been addressed in any resource but one: Multimedia Pathways. Multimedia Pathways is a project management method developed for multimedia projects. This method cannot be used in its current state however. Not only the author of this thesis had trouble in applying the method, but also one of the developers of the method admits that adaptation and updating would be required. With these findings, it is therefore necessary to decide on the most suitable existing method that should be analysed and adapted accordingly, which will form the new concept.
2.3 Definition of Multimedia
It is necessary to define the terms multimedia and project management to prevent ambiguity.
To some people it might seem as a matter of course that multimedia incorporates the use of a computer. This may be partly because the term ‘multimedia’ has been used largely by the computer industry to advertise its products, be it real multimedia or not. 2
According to R. Tannenbaum, author of Theoretical Foundations of Multimedia, “Multimedia is defined as an interactive computer-mediated presentation that includes at least two of the following elements: text, sound, still graphic images, motion graphics and animation”. 3 Other people however, take a more literal approach to define the term:
True, the literal meaning of multimedia is “using more than one
medium to convey information” - in fact, I taught a multimedia course
(...) in the SIXTIES. It used a combination of 16mm sound film, student
workbooks, lecture, and hands-on practice to teach a 2-week course in
To make things clear to everyone, Jay Neal suggests the use of the term “Computer Multimedia”. 5 This paper however, will use Tannenbaum’s understanding of multimedia, it is therefore assumed that multimedia utilizes some form of computer to create and display the product. It is important to distinguish between multimedia applications and mere software programmes that could use more than one medium (e.g. a word processor that has sounds included). Tannenbaum achieves this separation by talking of a “ (...) computer mediated presentation (...)” 6 rather than a mere software product.
2.4 Types of Multimedia Products
Multimedia products can be distinguished in several ways, e.g. by the form of delivery or by the product type. Delivery or distribution is categorized in offline, online or hybrid media.
2.4.1 Forms of Delivery
Offline means that all the software and media needed to run the product is stored at the location where the product is being executed. A couple of years ago the most important medium for offline delivery were floppy disks, which then had to be installed or copied to a hard disk. Today, CD-ROM’s or DVD’s are generally superseding floppy disks. The term online products means that some sort of data connection has to be in place between the computer or display device the product is supposed to be used with and a remote service that stores the data of the multimedia product. Most prominent example for an online product is a website that is displayed on a remote computer which is connected to the Internet. But also CBT lessons that are offered in a company and run through the internal network or, in the future, interactive television channels are part of the online family. A hybrid product uses both offline and online technology. Typically, the main application is delivered via CD-ROM. Information within the product that requires frequent updating, such as product and price lists, new levels and characters, etc. is then downloaded via an online channel. 7 The production of online and offline applications is different. Although broadband is becoming increasingly accessible, bandwidth is still the most limiting
Testing and debugging can be complex for both delivery methods, depending on the nature of the project. A website that communicates with a database server and uses a lot of custom written scripts and security mechanisms requires more testing than a small static web presence, similarly the potential for bugs in a complex computer game will be higher than in a small interactive puzzle produced with authoring tools. The main difference however is that for online products it is easier to correct bugs or update functionality, compared to an offline product that has already been distributed.
2.4.2 Categories of Multimedia Products
Product classifications of multimedia applications such as training, educational, entertaining, presentation and information products cannot always be readily distinguished. Often, products cannot be clearly assigned to one single category, particularly when the application fulfils more than one function. The delivery for all of these classifications can either be offline, online or using a hybrid approach. Multimedia products can be used to train staff and employees for various tasks. Such applications are especially useful for training a large amount of people inhouse and for simulating situations where it would be to expensive or dangerous to learn on the real system or machine from the beginning. The development of training solutions requires content experts who need to be familiar with specific area that is to be trained. Depending on the area of training, these applications may require a large amount of programming, which can not be achieved with authoring tools, e.g. to create a realistic simulation of operating a machine. Educational multimedia products are similar to training products, as their aim is to help its users to gain knowledge and to understand and apply the content that is presented. Products can be either stand-alone or used to support an existing curriculum and are available both for adult and children use. Most applications that try to appeal to young people make use of extensive usage of graphics, video and sound, combined with interactivity and room for exploration. This kind of genre is called edutainment, as it tries to combine education and entertainment. This puts high demand on the graphic designers, as well as the interactive designers. Experts
with teaching experience are also required to make sure that content is presented, and understandings are being tested, appropriately. As already stated, the borders for assigning multimedia applications to specific categories are fluid. Defining the fine line between edutainment and entertainment is difficult and dependent on each individual’s viewpoint. Mere entertaining products are those that do not attempt to convey academic or professional knowledge, such as games, interactive music videos, CD-ROM’s or websites of famous people, etc. For game development the programming tasks receive special importance, especially if required to develop high performance graphical engines and level editors, using machine language programming, which also requires special knowledge in testing and debugging, before the product can be released and sold. In addition, video footage specifically shot for the game, similar to movies in quality and professionalism, is not uncommon. Multimedia presentations can vary vastly in size, or duration, and intended usage. Presentations can be used to support a speaker at a conference to transfer the intended message to the audience. But also the introduction of a new product or a whole organization in a large public relation event can use multimedia as support or as the main source of action. Requirements for these type of application vary according to its duration and intended usage from short and functional, mainly concentrating on the message and using little different media content, to lasting several hours and making extensive usage of a variety of different media, combined in a complex choreography. Finally, multimedia products are used to inform. The notion behind providing the information can either be profit or non-profit. Profit based systems are applications, such as online shops, product catalogues on CD-ROM, information that describes the image of a company, etc. Where the user is given the possibility to order a product from within the application the term Point of Sale is used sometimes, specifically when the computer or display device is located in a public place. Non-profit based information systems located in a public area are referred to as Point of Information. These can be in airports, train stations, shopping centres and museums for example and usually intend to provide the user with information
and answers to the most common questions related to locations and services in that location. Product design is difficult in so far that the target audience is very broad and it must be assured that both computer literate as well as computer illiterate people can use the application. Also, testing is a very important aspect, as the application is supposed to run stably without requiring a regular maintenance service.
It is obvious that there is a wide variety of multimedia applications. Not only distinguished by different product types, but also different delivery methods can be used for classification. Projects therefore mainly vary in:
- use of production tools
- structure and design
- required areas of expertise
- combination of content
- length and complexity
- emphasis on specific aspects, e.g. graphical design or testing
variety of possible projects, all of these classifications and needs should be taken into consideration. It has to be adaptive to both different development duration and number of team members working on the project. Furthermore, tools and processes need to be provided to manage the team members, who come from different fields of expertise (video editors, programmers, graphic designer, content experts, etc.).
2.5.1 Project and Project Management
The term project needs to be defined:
(...) A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique
product or service. Temporary means that every project [not necessarily
the resulting product or service] has a definite beginning and a definite
end. Unique means that the product or service is different in some
distinguishing way from all similar products or services. 8
A general definition of project management:
Project Management is the managerial task of accomplishing a project
on time, in budget and to technical specification. The project manager is
the single point of responsibility for achieving this. 9
For multimedia projects however, this definition needs to be altered. The technical specification is only one portion of the overall specifications of a multimedia product as the design and appeal of multimedia products play a major role in the acceptance and success of the product. Not only the technology behind the application, but also the structure, the paths the user can choose, as well as the screen layout need to be defined. The earlier can be defined as Interaction Design, the latter as Presentation Design. 10 Both can be summarized by the more general term design, however it must not be forgotten that this also addresses the structure within the product.
Thus, multimedia projects need not only to be managed in regards to time, budget and technical specification, but design specification as well.
2.5.2 Project Stakeholders
Also, it should be noted that it is not is the sole responsibility of the project manager to generate a successful project. The project manager, however, is certainly defined as the person who is responsible for controlling these parameters during the project. To successfully conduct a project that results in a good product requires the effort of all the people that are involved in the planning and production, which is called the project team. Project team refers to the staff of the company that develops the application. In addition, attention needs to be drawn to the difference between client and customer (or user). As generally accepted, the term client will be used in this paper to describe the person or organization that wants the product to be developed. Customer or user are interchangeable terms and refer to the person or group of people that is actually intended to use the product, whereas the term customer more strongly emphasises that the product or service is expected to be bought or paid for. The sum of these individuals and groups can be defined as the project stakeholders. “Project stakeholders are individuals and organizations who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of [the] project (...)”. 11
Further the meanings of project management method, methodology, framework and process also require definition. In its original meaning, a method is a structured and organised way of doing something, whereas a methodology is the science or study
of methods. 12 A framework is defined either as a structure giving shape and support or as a set of principles or ideas used as a basis for one’s judgement, decisions, etc. 13 A process originally is a series of actions or operations performed in order to do or achieve something. 14 In project management, different authors and creators of structured project management approaches are using these terms to describe different things, which can lead to confusion. A portion of them uses the term methodology in its original meaning: “Methodology is a metadiscipline. It involves the study of methods.” 15 Whereas others use the term method or methodology as an equivalent: “A method, or methodology, is a structured approach for delivering a project.” 16 Another example would be Multimedia Pathways, which is described as “A Development Methodology for Interactive Multimedia and Online Products for Education and Training” 17 and not as a development method. It can be argued that each project is different in some way and therefore requires a method to be studied and adapted for every project and that each method can thus be seen as a methodology as well. In this paper, the term methodology will be used with its original meaning, which involves the analysis of different methods or parts of methods, not the mere adaptation of one method. The term framework will be used as an equivalent to method. It should be noted that the term process is sometimes used for what now has been defined as a method, e.g. the Rational Unified Process. 18 Again, in this paper it will be used in its original meaning.
A project management process is a portion of a project management method. It can be seen as a tool, as an instruction, technique or activity for the project management to deal with one of its responsibilities or work areas, e.g. planning and controlling. 19 The sum of processes, in combination with a time component, forms the project management method. The time component is usually referred to as the project life cycle. The project life cycle runs from the start of the project until its end and is separated into stages. 20
3 The Historical Development of Project
available on its history. To the knowledge of the author, the Griffith University library staff and several book stores, there is no dedicated publication in relation to project management history and only a very small number of books on project management find it necessary to devote short chapters to the topic. Yet, despite the limited information available, it should be noted that different opinions as to when project management started exist.
3.1 The Philosophy of Ancient Project Management
In this theory, it is assumed that early forms of project management were established after humankind evolved to specialisation, which meant development from gathering food and hunting into more diverse roles. This meant that people stopped doing every task themselves and paid other, usually more skilled craftsmen to do specific jobs, such as construction work. Once these jobs or projects got too complex to be undertaken by a small number of people, (e.g. the construction of palaces, buildings and castles) it is assumed that those responsible for the project, (usually engineers or technicians) had to apply project management techniques to plan and organise the work and to communicate with their clients in regard to what was expected to be achieved. 21 Taking this theory even further it could be argued that, according to the definition of a project given above, the first endeavours of creating primitive tools
and the organization of huntings of our ancestors were projects. It would however not stand up to comparison with the definition of project management as the time and budget component certainly did not play a role during that period in history.
3.2 The Philosophy of Modern Project Management
Yet another philosophy of the development of project management argues that, while ancient construction work is certainly impressive and required a lot of resources to coordinate, no valid evidence of the occurrence of project management has been found to had been applied in these projects. It is assumed, rather, that project management in its modern form found its origin in projects of the American and British military and aerospace development during the 1950’s. Modern formation means that tools and techniques, which are still used today, originated during that period of time. Examples would be PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique), which was initially developed as a system to estimate the duration of tasks and is now being used to describe a technique of arranging task and activities in a network diagram to show interdependencies and to optimise the work flow. The work breakdown structure (WBS) was introduced during that period also. The WBS, as its name suggests, is used to break the work of a project down into smaller, more manageable tasks and to arrange these tasks into logical groups. Important practises of today’s project management, such as earned value tracking and analysis, the definition of a project lifecycle and configuration management were introduced in the 1960’s. Henry Gantt developed the Gantt Chart in the early 1900’s, initially to make it easier to construct ships. In a Gantt Chart, bars are used to indicate task duration and order. Although it is still frequently used by project managers today and forming a central part of most of the standard project management software, it is not seen as the start of modern project management. This is because the development of most of the other tools and techniques as well as the incorporation into a systematic approach did not start until the middle of the 19 th century. During that time the management structure of the companies was influenced by the knowledge gained through the management of projects, when people
realized the importance of having one individual responsible for the project throughout its whole life cycle. This needs to be addressed further in Chapter 5. It was not until the 1970’s that the technology industry began utilizing project management techniques on a wider basis, which had already been applied in the military and then later, the construction industry. With the establishment of the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the U.S. and the Association for Project Management (APM) in Great Britain, project management started to be regarded as a discipline. Furthermore, the tools and processes developed to that point underwent sophistication and updates to decrease the rate of projects failing. Probably the most noticeable development in project management during the 1980’s was that the importance of project phases prior to implementation and production, namely concept and design, was realized. Greater consideration was given to the opinion of the project’s stakeholders. It became obvious that through thorough needs and risk analysis the likelihood of project failure could be reduced, as it was discovered that change late during the project incurred much higher costs than alterations in the early stages of the life cycle. Also, computers became cheaper and more available, which resulted in wider usage throughout the industry and meant that project managers could rely more heavily on the assistance of project management software. Meanwhile, the PMI had published its first edition of the project management body of knowledge (PMBoK), which was one of the first attempts to provide project managers with a structured overview of available processes and tools. The PMI also introduced courses in project management, which, after successful completion, provide the project manager with a certificate. This helped to establish project management as a profession rather than being a mere job discipline. Tougher competition during the 1990’s, with Asian nations increasing their exports to the American and European market, required companies to be able to develop and produce projects faster and with higher quality. This led some companies to restructure their organizational hierarchy and departments, grouping their personnel into project teams that could act and develop more quickly than companies with traditional organizations. Under these circumstances total quality
management (TQM) was developed. The original information on this second theory can be found in the Mr. Burke’s book: Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, 3 rd edition. 22
It is beyond the scope of this thesis to further investigate the contrasting theories. It may be well possible that Rory Burke is not right and that it in some way it is documented that project management was used for early construction projects, such as the Pyramids. This, however, is not important to the outcomes of this paper. It is more important to focus on the information available today and, even more so to focus on that which is used in project management today. In summary it should be noted that modern project management first evolved in military and aerospace projects, before the construction discipline and later the computer and software industry started utilizing it. Further, it is worth noting that most of the tools and techniques that were developed half a century ago are still used in, or form the basis of, most of today’s project management methods, such as Gantt Charts, PERT or the establishment of a project life cycle. The use of more or less the same techniques and processes in project management throughout totally different and unrelated industries raises the question whether the knowledge of project management can be transferred between different disciplines without the necessity for adaptation.
4 The Components of a Project Management
defined in Chapter 2.5. A project management method should support the project manager both in case where the requirements of projects are either vague or clearly defined. The project management method also needs to have processes in place to deal with a clear as well as an unclear delivery process. 23 . To accomplish this a suitable framework has to assist the project manager to identify the goals of the project and to assign the roles and responsibilities of the project team. Means for checking project progress and for evaluating the relevance of performing tasks in regard to the project specification need to be provided, just as means need to be provided for managing risks. 24 This chapter takes a more detailed look at the different components that should be part of a comprehensive project management method. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project management framework consists of the project management context and project management processes. The project management processes can be categorized into knowledge areas, whereas processes that interact with, and therefore influence each other need to be put in context as well. 25
4.1 The Project Management Context
The project management context, as defined by PMI “describes the environment in which projects operate.” 26 In this context, not only the project life cycle with its stages or phases is included, but also other criteria that influence the project, such as the organization of the company, socio-economic influences, project stakeholders and generic management skills. 27 As already stated, the project life cycle is considered as the temporal component of a project management method and therefore forms and integral part of it. Organisational influences, such as the company’s hierarchical and management structure, usually have an influence on the way a project is conducted. It will not only determine the project manager’s competencies and influence, but also the way a project team is to be organised. 28 This may lead to the alteration or development of a new project management method. The main problem with this is that there is a risk of creating a method that takes organisational influences more into consideration than the initial aim of having a method: effective and successful management of projects. For a project manager it can be difficult to deal with the stakeholders because of their different interests in the project as well different levels of knowledge and points of view. 29 Processes need to be developed to ensure proper communication and conflict resolution between these individuals or groups, as well as to deal with specification and requirements. PMI also identifies general management skills that are likely to be beneficial to project managers as well. These skills include knowledge in leading,
communication, negotiating, problem solving and influencing the organization. 30 Undoubtedly, every effective method has to support the project manager and must provide direction as to when specific skills need to be applied most. Most of the skills mentioned are also essential for developing working and usable processes in the first place. Yet, it would be beyond the scope of a method to try to teach these skills to a project manager. Standards and regulations fall into the category of socio-economic influences. They can be imposed by various groups or bodies, e.g. government, the client or the project organization itself and can have a significant influence on the management or development of the project. Other socio-economic effects to consider are internationalisation, which refers to companies acting and developing globally, and the need to address cultural differences and norms. 31 This is not only important for developing a product with an international team but also applies to the products or services themselves. In the case where they are distributed globally, it may well be the case that, while the translation of initial goals into the finished product works well with one culture, it can be seen as nonspecific or insulting in a different culture. While the influences described above may need to be considered during the development of a method, they cannot be regarded as an additional component, such as the temporal component or the processes, of the method itself, as described by PMI, as they need to be addressed and dealt with by the method anyway.
4.2 The Project Life Cycle
A project is usually separated into phases. By the end of each phase or stage, a deliverable 32 or work product should be available. These tangible results can then be compared to what was initially planned or expected. This serves as a control and progress-tracking tool for the project manager. The sum of the phases is described as the project life cycle. The project life cycle defines the number of phases required for a product, an overview of the main characteristics of each phase, i.e. what should be done and by whom, as well the temporal arrangement of the phases. Most life cycles are characterized by the fact that staff requirements are lower during the beginning and end of the life cycle then they are in the middle, where development usually occurs. Also, risks are higher and specifications more vague during the early stages of the life cycle. Also, most life cycles accommodate for changes regarding the product during the early stages, rather than the later ones. Several models of life cycles exist with differences in the number, length and description of the individual phases. It is also possible for stages to overlap, i.e. certain phases can start before prior phases have ended. Life cycles can be linear, which means that every phase is gone through once within a defined sequence, while some are spiral, where one or several stages can by cycled through several times. 33 Such a life cycle can also be called an iterative life cycle, because the life cycle itself or some of its stages are run through in an iterative process.
4.3 Project Processes
In general, project processes can be either project management oriented or product oriented. While project management processes are the strategies and actions
performed by the project manager, product oriented processes are those that are needed to create the product. 34 These processes should not be confused. Project management processes are the ones that are most important to the project manager, as they describe and provide action for how to manage and control the project. Product management processes are most important to the project team, as they define how to create and build the product, e.g. how to compress a video file or how to create an interactive director movie. The processes in a project management method have to therefore mainly deal with the project management type processes. A basic knowledge of product oriented processes, however, is required for the project manager, to apply the project oriented processes effectively. 35 Each stage of the project life cycle requires the application of processes. While the specific processes required may vary from stage to stage, the processes that occur within every stage can be generally categorized in the groups of initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closure. These groups of processes influence each other. The results of one process become the beginning parameters of another process, e.g. the outcomes of planning processes serve as the inputs for the execution, while controlling the project needs input both from planning and execution and can also influence both, depending on whether the project is on track and according to specification or not. A process is therefore defined by the inputs it requires, by the tools and actions that are performed with the inputs and by the results or outcomes that are generated by doing so. In most cases, the outcomes have to be documented, so that they are available to other processes, usually in written form. 36 Inputs are described as “documents or documentable items that will be acted upon” 37 . Outputs are defined as “documents or documentable items that are
a result of the process” 38 . This is not to be taken too literally. Not every process has a document as an input and requires complicated tools to produce the desired output. Often, the input is provided by project stakeholders, and the tool or technique used for the process is a checklist or a template document, to structure the input of the stakeholders and to make sure that no important aspects have been forgotten. In such a case, the output then is the answered checklist or filled out document. A successful project management method must therefore not only provide the project manager with a suitable project life cycle and a number of processes, but also depict the interactions between the processes. Only then can it be assured that the project manager makes use of the right processes, using all the required inputs to a process and providing all affected processes with the necessary output at the right time. Although PMI states that knowledge in both project and productoriented processes interact, it does not transfer this finding to the characteristics and interactions of the processes clearly enough. The definitions, as well as the examples in the PMI publication, primarily take the inputs and outputs of project management processes into consideration. What is missing is the necessary link between project management and project team. The inputs and outputs of other project management processes, e.g. developed documents, can not only influence the project management processes, but these processes also require the input from the product-oriented processes, otherwise the outputs of the project oriented processes would not produce any valid results. The project management processes of task estimation for example cannot be performed without the input of the project team. As stated by PMI, “(...) not all of the processes will be needed on all projects, and not all of the interactions will apply to all projects” 39 . It is therefore necessary
to look for and integrate processes that are specific to the type of project that is to be conducted, as they vary from project type to project type. This chapter is meant to describe the component of a project management method in generic terms, thus common processes will be briefly described, categorized in key knowledge areas of project management. The most important tools and techniques of these processes will be outline briefly as well, whereas the description of the inputs and outputs, i.e. the interactions, would be beyond the scope of this paper, as these are projectdependant. Instead, this will be tried to achieve in Chapter 8, where a suitable method will be analysed.
This knowledge area summarizes the processes that are required to coordinate the different aspects of a project and is therefore the most general part of project management, though it is required throughout the whole project and dependent on the input and the use of the tools and techniques of various other processes. The main processes that belong to this category are the development of a project plan, the execution of the project plan and controlling change within the project. The project plan is the most important document for executing and controlling the project. As more knowledge is gathered, it requires continuous updating during the project, which leads from a drafted version to a comprehensive document that describes in detail the requirements, scope and schedule of the project. Once the scope has been defined, a list of tasks to be performed can be worked out, which then leads to the identification of needed resources, such as staff or hardware and software. The results of cost estimation and budget development, as well as risk identifications are usually included in the project plan as well. For the development of a project plan, the skills and expertise of client, user and project team are
required. Templates and questionnaires can be used to focus these groups on producing the required information. 40 Project plan execution is the process of actually conducting the project according to the developed plan. The execution does mostly involve so called generic project management skills, which essentially is the application of other processes, e.g. for progress tracking, communication, change control, etc. 41 Project change control is used to keep track of changes and to determine possible follow on influences, e.g. a change in graphic design might affect programming as well. The techniques utilised to manage change control are the establishment of a change control system, which defines the steps of requesting change, inferring possible effects of the requested change and denying or approving the change request. Change control system is sometimes referred to as configuration management. 42
The scope of the project can be defined, once the objectives and requirements have been understood. The project scope defines the individual deliverables that need to be performed and the work products that need to be built, to produce the desired product or service. Scope management involves the processes of planning, defining and accepting the project scope. This is a necessary input for other process groups, such as time and cost estimation. Further, a process that identifies and deals with possible changes to the initially agreed scope needs to be in place. 43
4.3.3 Project Time Management
The knowledge area of time management is required to ensure that the project can be finished on or before the specified due date. To accomplish this successfully a process needs to be in place to define the project tasks, which is the work that needs to be performed to develop the deliverables of the scope management that make up the product. This is then followed by the processes for analysing the dependencies of the tasks, which prescribes the order in which the tasks have to be dealt with, and estimating their duration. Once this has been accomplished, a process helps the project manager to develop a schedule for the project. Differences between the actual development compared to the projected schedule have to be managed by a control process. 44
- Quote paper
- Stefan Hartweg (Author), 2002, A Project Management Methodology for Multimedia Projects, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/185753