Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management is an introductory course on the key concepts of planning and executing projects. We will identify factors that lead to project success, and learn how to plan, analyze and manage projects. Learners will be exposed to state-of-the-art methodologies and to considering the challenges of various types of projects.
Projects are all around us. Virtually every organization runs projects, either formally or informally. We are engaged in projects at home and at work. Across settings, planning principles and execution methodologies can offer ways in which projects can be run more effectively and efficiently. Project management provides organizations (and individuals) with the language and the frameworks for scoping projects, sequencing activities, utilizing resources, and minimizing risks. In this course, you will acquire such skills.
Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management will introduce basic concepts from project planning, critical path method, network analysis, and simulation for project risk analysis. You will gain an appreciation for what is required in planning and executing large-scale projects and gain an understanding of Agile Project Management principles. Together, we will develop an awareness of some behavioral biases that come to play in project settings and identify how these impact the planning and execution of a project.
By the end of the course, learners will be equipped with the language and mindset for planning and managing projects by properly setting project goals and objectives, and thus able to prioritize amongst project objectives. Learners will be more cognizant of considering project stakeholders’ opinions, recognize the need and benefits from proper project planning, be aware of the different project lifecycle stages and the role each stage has in the evolution of a project, and will be capable of selecting the most appropriate project management methodology given the project objectives, the degrees of uncertainty, and the project constraints.
The course’s audience is broad — many might have had previous experience in the domain of project management, whether in a formal or informal role. You may have no formal experience. Regardless of your background, together we will address these topics from a strategic and decision-oriented perspective.
Week 1: Welcome to the World of Projects
During our first week, we will gain an understanding of what a project is, what it isn’t, and why that matters. We’ll consider how projects are defined and a project’s three objectives. We will look at a model for examining a project’s organization and its stakeholders, and then analyze those stakeholders using a power/interest grid. We’ll look at the main reasons why many projects fail and then learn how to measure success. Finally, we will review the key stages in the project life cycle and highlight the important features of each stage.
Week 1 Learner Outcomes:
Classify a project as successful or not
Appreciate what makes projects successful
Learn from unsuccessful projects
Learners will be aware of the different project life cycle stages and the role each stage has in the evolution of a project
Learners will be able to define a project and set project goals and objectives
Learners will be able to prioritize amongst project objectives
Learners will come to appreciate the complexity of planning and managing projects
Learners will be more cognizant of considering project stakeholders’ opinions
Week 2: The Ins and Outs of Project Planning
During our second week, we will start digging into the details, focusing on how to develop a project plan. We’ll understand why we plan and what a plan should or should not include. We will discuss the process of scoping out a project and see tools that can help us identify what should be included in our project. We’ll learn about sequencing project tasks and the nature of the dependencies among project activates. We will learn how to determine a project’s duration and critical path, how it is determined, and why it is useful. We’ll see how we should schedule a project and, finally, we’ll review how you can make changes to a plan to support your overall project objectives.
Week 2 Learner Outcomes:
Learners will recognize the importance of proper project planning
Learners will appreciate the components that go into proper project planning
Be able to scope out a project
Be able to visualize and communicate to others a project’s scope
Learners will be able to identify tasks’ dependencies and sequencing
Understand the difference among different types of dependencies
Be able to derive a project’s duration by identifying the critical path
Learners will have the ability to generate and understand Gantt charts and network diagrams
Learners will identify how to relate project objectives to scheduling decisions
Week 3: It’s a Risky World, and Then the Unexpected Happened
In our third week, we will consider the risk and uncertainties projects face. We’ll understand what is risky about projects. We will identity and assess project risks and prioritize these risks in order to focus our attention on those most impactful to the project. We’ll consider schedule risks in detail and ask, “What is the likelihood of finishing on time? What are the drivers that may cause delays in my project?” We will see how a project budget can be set to include a contingency. Finally, we’ll consider situations with a high degree of ambiguity and identify methods than can useful in these situations.
Week 3 Learner Outcomes:
Learners will assess, prioritize and manage major project risks
Learners will have the ability to set a project completion date and budget with confidence
Learners will be able to interpret a tornado diagram
Learners will conceptualize and articulate schedule risks, and learn to use the language of probability to articulate the chances of completing a project on time and on budget
Learners will have an appreciation for how ambiguity can be dealt with in the context of projects
Week 4: Ready, Set, Go: Project Execution
During our final week, we will move from plan to action and consider the execution phase of a project. We’ll learn about the earned value approach for monitoring and controlling progress. We will consider the individuals who are executing the project and how their habits impact project progress. We’ll discuss some alternative methods for project execution such as Agile, Scrum, and Kanban. Finally, we will review and summarize the course and our journey from project definition through execution and completion.
Week 4 Learner Outcomes:
Learners will understand the stages in executing a project
Learners will master the principles of the earned value analysis method for tracking project progress
Learners will have knowledge of different project management methodologies such as Agile, Scrum, and Kanban
Learners will be capable of selecting the most appropriate project management methodology given the project objectives, the degrees of uncertainty and the project constraints
Learners will possess the language and knowledge around Agile Methodology principles and team requirements and structure
No formal project management background is required; all are welcome!
Although the lectures are designed to be self-contained, we suggest (but do not require) the following readings to enhance course content:
Ackermann, F. & Eden, C. (2011). Making strategy: Mapping out strategic success. Washington, DC: Sage Publications.
Beck, K. et al. (2001). Manifesto for agile software development. General format.
Bowen, H. K. (2002). Project management manual. Harvard Business School Background Note 697-034, September 1996.
Cleland, D. & King, W. R. (1988). Project management handbook. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Cooper, R. G. & Edgett, S. J. (2011). Lean, rapid and profitable new product development. Charleston, SC: Booksurge.
De Reyck, B. (2005). Tools to keep projects on the rails. Financial Times, September 2005.
Drucker, P. F. (2006). The effective executive: The definitive guide to getting the right things done. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Freeman, R. E. (2010). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Loch, C. H., DeMeyer, A., & Pich, M. T. (2006). Managing the unknown: A new approach to managing high uncertainty and risk in projects. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Project Management Institute (2013). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide), 5th ed. Newton Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Shenhar, A. J. & Dvir, D. (2007). Reinventing project management: The diamond approach to successful growth and innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
The course will consist of a series of video lectures, case studies, online discussions, and quizzes.