What Are the Principles of Project Management?

The fourth industrial revolution has brought with it a whole lot of change. Changing technology, changing markets and changing business environment has led to more competition, intense projects and the need for speed—all of which are essential for organizations to adopt, if they want to succeed. Projects are getting pan geographical, large and highly visible with distributed teams, tight schedules and volatile requirements.  

In order to manage challenging projects, Project Managers must follow the right principles of project management and create the right structure. In this blog, we attempt to look at the best principles of project management and about leveraging them to ensure project success. 

What Is Project Management About? 

As geographies get closer and projects get more resource, technology, requirements and budget intensive, project managers are under a whole lot of stress to ensure that things go smoothly, and projects culminate in success.  

Is it easy to manage a project, especially modern projects? It is definitely not! It requires a whole lot of discipline and skilled managers to manage projects that can create value and deliver a product or service that matches the expectations of the end user. Here is where project management comes into play. 

Project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market—these are all examples of projects–PMI® 

Project Management tools have simplified to a great extent the project management process and made it more efficient. Project Management provides value at the strategic and organizational level, is a tool for training and education, and provides a valuable career path for millions around the world. 

According to the PMI, even basic project management skills can help people from different sectors and job profiles become better at their role and ensure better value and outcomes. Project Management best practices can help deliver innovative solutions on time and within budget, helping organizations save millions of dollars on failed products. Not just in IT, but project management can also help in the field of medicine, education, infrastructure and more.

What are the 12 basic project management principles to follow?

Let us look in depth at the twelve basic project management principles, which when applied help to ensure project success.

1. Principle of Success:

As a project manager, before getting into any project, you need to have a successful mind-set and you should strive towards project success. It is not enough to just complete the project on time and within budget but is all about delivering what the client expects and of the highest possible quality.

2. Principle of Project Manager:

As a Project Manager, you are responsible for leading the project to success. Project Managers will get sponsorship, resources, set schedules and allocate budgets, ensure risk management and transparency among resources and stakeholders, and ensure smooth working of all aspects of the project.

The project manager’s toolkit must include good technical knowledge, good people skills, communication skills and an ability to ensure continuous improvement by upskilling and learning.

3. Principle of Commitment:

Commitment is necessary in whatever we do. Everyone involved in the project must be committed to reaching the project objectives and goals, and this commitment should be made even before the project is started. This requires everyone to be aligned to the project scope, goals, objectives, quality, and time.

4. Principle of Structure:

This refers to the structure your project will take with respect to project goal, resources, and time. These three pillars provide the structure to the project and must be decided even before the project starts. By knowing the reason for the project and what it aims to achieve, you can identify how to go about it and this provides the first structure. The second structure is to identify how much time it will take to reach the objectives and the final structure is to identify the resources.

5. Principle of Definition:

A project that is large and involves multiple stakeholders can often be chaotic and confusing. Different stakeholders may have diverse views and ideas of the project. But as project manager, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page. Also, note that defining the project is not a one-time activity but must be re-visited at intervals throughout the course of the project so that everyone is clear about the goals and objectives and stays on track.

6. Principle of Transparency:

Transparency and trust are the foundations of a good project. Transparency refers to openness not just among you and your team members but also between you and the stakeholders and customers. It is your responsibility to ensure that you keep the stakeholders clued in on what is always happening in the project. There are several tools available that allow you to communicate and share project status with your stakeholders and team members to ensure transparency.

7. Principle of Communication:

Communication is one of the ways to ensure transparency and to gain support and funding from the stakeholders. As a project manager, you need to have excellent communication skills to lead and motivate your team and engage with stakeholders, management, and everyone else involved in the project.Communication Plan

8. Principle of Progress:

A project must have well defined thresholds of progress and clearly defined milestones. Team members must be clear on what they need to achieve, the project objectives, and the goals and scope must be clearly defined and understood by all. The scope and objectives must be clearly mapped out even before the commencement of the project. Along with this there must be proper risk assessment strategies in place. Without these parameters being clarified, the project may not see the light of day.

9. Principle Life cycle:

The project development lifecycle includes all stages in the lifecycle of the project, from its inception to rollout and phasing out. Each phase of the project is an essential part of the overall success of the project and must involve careful planning and initiation. Every stage must have defined milestones and when these milestones are reached, they let you know that you are on track to project completion.

10. Principle of Culture:

The organizational culture plays a huge role in the success or failure of the project. A positive work culture supports innovation, growth, and a positive attitude among the workforces. Team members can speak without fear and put forth their ideas and suggestions freely. Conversely, a negative work environment demotivates the entire team and increases the chances of project failure. The organization must strive to adopt a culture that is horizontal and promotes creativity and quality work. As a project manager, you must strive to maintain a positive work environment and motivate your team to deliver the best. 

Organizational Culture and HR Practices

11. Principle of Risk:

Risk is a part of every project. A project without associated risks is unimaginable. Risks are anything that alter the objectives or end goals of the project and can be positive or negative. But whatever the type of risk, it must be identified and mitigated to ensure that the project is not adversely affected. 

The Risk Management Process

Risks can be identified not just at the time of planning or project conceptualization but even during the project, where they are looked into in more detail. Once the risks are identified, it is important to resolve them on time so that they do not become a bottleneck. Risk management is an important part of project management and must be practiced by every team and organization. The team should be trained to identify risks as soon as possible to minimize losses or project failure.

12. Principle of Accountability:

A project is only as good as the team and as a team, you must be accountable and measure your deliverables and success. Measuring milestones and deliverables and checking if they align to your original estimate will help you decide if you are on track for project completion. These metrics of measurements also help you identify top performers in your team and motivate and suitably reward them for their work and diligence.

What defines Project success?

On the face of it, completing a project on time and within budget can be defined as project success. But project success goes beyond these two parameters. A project is successful if it helps deliver what the stakeholder wants, in terms of quality and requirements. Project success is about how well you have handled the stakeholders during the project—in context to being open and transparent and taking them along in the project development journey. Project success is also measured in terms of how happy your team is at the end of the project.  

Let us look at some of the parameters that define project success: 

  • Project scope: The project has delivered what it had intended to in terms of requirements mentioned by the stakeholders. 
  • Project schedule and cost: The project has been completed on time and not exceeded budgets.  
  • Satisfied teams: The team was happy, motivated, and involved in the project and operated in an environment that helped the team to deliver the best. 
  • Happy customers: The stakeholders got what they expected, in terms of quality and quantity. Happy customers will keep coming back and this in turn will help raise organizational reputation in the market.  

Parting notes: 

Everyone wants to lead successful projectsbut that is easier said than doneJust like Rome was not built in a day, projects cannot be made successful overnight but require careful planning, prepping and relentless pursuit of quality. The principles of project management define the criteria that must be pursued to ensure project success. Successful project managers strictly follow these principles and deliver successful projects and portfolios.  

Maybe losing the AI race to China isn’t such a bad idea

Two people in hard hats stand outside an electrical substation power facility behind a rolling robotic sensor.
An artificially intelligent robot inspects power lines in Chunzhou, China. | Song Weixing/Visual China Group via Getty Images

A top Pentagon software official recently quit his job, claiming that the US is dragging its heels.

The Pentagon’s first-ever chief software officer abruptly quit earlier this month, and now we know exactly why: Nicolas Chaillan, former CSO of the United States Air Force and Space Force, told the Financial Times that the United States has “no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years” when it comes to cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence.

Chaillan, a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur, added that cyber defenses at many government agencies are at “kindergarten level,” and that companies like Google were doing the US a disservice by not working with the military more on AI, since Chinese companies were making a “massive investment” in AI without getting all hung up on the ethics of it all. And while quitting your job because America has already lost the AI race is a bit dramatic, Chaillan isn’t the only one who’s concerned about China’s dominance in this arena.

We can all agree that nobody wants China to invent a real-world version of Skynet, the all-powerful AI that takes over the planet in the Terminator movies. But we don’t want the US to do that either. But what does the finish line in this AI race actually look like? And does the US really want to win at all costs?

For years, pundits have been comparing the AI race to the space race — and warning that the US is losing it. It’s a handy analogy, since it helps Americans put current conflicts with countries like China and Russia into the familiar context of the Cold War. Many have argued that we’ve found ourselves in a second Cold War and that the country that wins the AI race will take the throne as the dominant superpower. But the AI revolution isn’t just about fighting wars or geopolitical dominance. What we’re racing to build will transform almost every aspect of our lives, from how we run businesses to how we process information to how we get around.

So it’s imperative that the US is thoughtful about quickly charging into a future filled with autonomous cars, boundless data collection, and full-time surveillance. These are the applications that next-generation AI will enable, and if a small group of powerful tech companies and/or the US military pushes for innovation without putting the proper guard rails in place, this world-changing technology could lead to some grim unintended consequences. President Biden called for the US and Europe to work together on developing new technology responsibly in a February speech at the Munich Security Conference.

“We must shape the rules that will govern the advance of technology and the norms of behavior in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology so that they are used to lift people up, not used to pin them down,” Biden said. “We must stand up for the democratic values that make it possible for us to accomplish any of this, pushing back against those who would monopolize and normalize repression.

You could also look to present-day China to see what the near future of a more AI-centric society might look like. As Kai-Fu Lee argues in his book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, China has been more aggressive at implementing AI breakthroughs, especially in surveillance and data collection applications, thanks in part to government support and a lack of oversight that’s let some tech companies there leapfrog the competition and dominate entire industries. WeChat and its parent company, Tencent, are perfect examples of this. On WeChat, privacy does not seem to be a priority, but the vast quantities of data the app can collect are certainly helpful for training AI.

“Imagine, if you will, that Facebook acquired Visa and Mastercard and integrated everything into the functions, as well as invested money into Amazon and Uber and OpenTable and so on and so forth, and made an ecosystem that once you log into Facebook, all these things are one click away and then you could pay for them with another click,” Lee told New York magazine. “That is the kind of convenience that WeChat brought about, and its true worth is the gigantic data set of all the user data that goes through it.”

This is the sort of winning-at-all costs approach that appears to give China a leg up in the AI race. China also appears to be playing catch-up when it comes to establishing standards for algorithmic ethics. Just last week, the country issued its first-ever guidelines on AI ethics. The US has long known that algorithms can be racist or sexist, and the Pentagon adopted its guidelines on ethical AI nearly two years ago. And as we’ve learned more recently, the AI that companies like Facebook and YouTube use to serve up content can also be used to radicalize people and undermine democracy. That’s why — especially in the wake of Facebook’s whistleblower scandal that revealed internal research showing that its products were harmful to some users, including teenage girls — lawmakers in the US lately seem more interested in talking about how to regulate algorithms than how to beat China in the AI race.

The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, by the way. Chaillan, the former military software chief, has certainly earned his right to an opinion about how quickly the US is developing its cyber defenses and artificially intelligent computers. And now that he’s taking his knowledge of how the Pentagon works to the private sector, he’ll probably make good money addressing his concerns. For the rest of us, the rise of AI shouldn’t feel like a race against China. It’s more like a high-stakes poker game.

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