Various entities all over the world strive to reach their objectives at the lowest costs with the best results possible. Project is a stepping stone for attaining what the company has set as a goal. According to the Project Management Institute, project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (Project Management Institute 2015). Project management is the process of developing the plan for the project, assigning responsibilities, supervising, testing, and applying any other tools that ensure meeting the project’s purposes. Projects and their management are greatly interdependent. It is quite impossible to tell which one has more influence on another. The nature of the former affects the execution of the latter, whereas management of the project could certainly change the project’s outcome and thus result in something completely different from what has been set as the project’s goal.
Project Management and Its Stages
Project management is notorious for its complexity. It has several life stages: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing (Project Management Institute 2015). Each stage is vitally important, and sometimes they overlap which makes it even more complicated for the manager or the management team to ensure a proper control. Many project managers struggle to follow the plan during the project’s execution due to the contingency situations that are proportional to the size and complexity of the project itself. Unpredictable circumstances are normal, and even a small undertaking can go with some deviations from the plan. However, it is important to stay goal-oriented during a project and use its deliverables as the main indicator of moving in the right direction without losing the focus of the project. It is ensured by using the areas of knowledge particular to the project management.
Project management knowledge involves ten different components: integration, scope, time, risk management, cost, quality, procurement, communications, human resources, and stakeholder management (Project Management Institute 2015). It is, once again, not easy for the project manager to focus simultaneously on all these areas during the project’s execution. Communication, in this case, matters immensely: from the initial stage and planning to closing, it is crucial to remind all those involved in the undertaking what they are striving for, keep them updated about plan changes, and plan fulfillment, as well as keep their team spirit. Nevertheless, the main focus of any project manager is, of course, resources such as time and budget, schedule, and, most importantly, goals. If a project is not goal-oriented, it cannot be called a project. If one compared a project to a human body, goals would be its heart that pumps the blood through the body and keeps it alive. Stakeholders would not be happy about an excellently and smoothly executed project if its outcomes differed drastically from what had been planned initially. That is, staying goal-oriented is the most fundamental task for the project manager.
Goal Setting and a Success Story
Delivering a successful project begins with setting a clear goal. Goal setting happens at the initiating stage, which is the earliest one. It takes place before any other areas of the project are formed. The world knows many success stories of massive projects. Yet, big projects sometimes fail; at the same time, many of both failures and successes go unnoticed. According to Matta and Ashkenas, as many as a half of big projects do not meet the goals set for them (2014). That could be explained by the necessity for several teams to work on different areas of the project simultaneously. Sometimes, there happen contingency situations that ruin the project. However, in the majority of cases, it is the final result that does not conform either to the project’s goal or the company’s mission, or both. Batu Hijau Copper Concentrator is an example of a successfully implemented project that has surpassed all the expectations of its executors. It was characterized by an extremely complex nature, and its execution involved “1,704,000 design hours, 48,791,000 construction hours, 551 separate systems, and 19,200 engineering drawings and documents” (Willard 2005). The project was completed 1 month ahead of the schedule and required $100 million less than was estimated initially. It has proved to be an incredible success after the copper concentrator started functioning and leveraged profits twice as many as had been predicted.
It is logical that the project was very successful. It was not for a reason of being well-planned and executed smoothly or because the most talented project managers supervised it. Every employee, starting with the headquarters office and finishing with the construction site were well informed about the project’s final goal. The team simply concentrated on their main target, which was to produce copper concentrate. They did not put saving time, money, or any other resources as their objectives and succeeded.
For project managers, it is important to remember that staying goal-oriented is crucial for achieving what has been set as an objective. Taking into account all the unpredictable situations that could occur, it is vital for the project manager to be agile, responsive, and implement necessary corrections that will keep the quality of the project high. It is not an easy task in the context of big projects that also involve many teams working simultaneously. Transitions between the project’s stages are not always smooth, and this could also impede running on schedule which could directly change the outcome or cause delays. All in all, project management is a complex process that should be balanced in terms of flexibility along the way as well as keeping the main focus on the goal that should convey the initial idea developed during the initial stage of the project.