All and every project is unique, thus project management process involves many non-universal steps and approaches aimed at accomplishing a singular goal within an organization. Scholars often argue whether projects and programs (a set or portfolio of projects) run by an organization are comparable categories, but this is not that important for performing day-to-day project and program management in an effective and efficient fashion. Only recently academic institutions accepted that project management is a discipline that deserves their institutionalized attention and a growing number of educational institutions now offer graduation programs in project management.
Theorists distinguish five groups of major processes in project management. The first project management process group is Initiating, followed by Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. A total of 42 different project management processes are listed under these five categories, separated in nine Knowledge Areas of project management: Project Integration Management, Project Scope Management, Project Time Management, Project Cost Management, Project Quality Management, Project Human Resource Management, Project Communications Management, Project Risk Management, and Project Procurement Management.
Inputs, outputs, tools and techniques used and produced within these processes in the knowledge areas are often interdependent, while most processes are in constant interaction. Therefore, a project management process is not an isolated event but a process that occurs in the framework of a broader structure designed to improve the success rate of projects and sets of projects. Thus, project management software, widely used by today’s top corporate managers, should be able to deal with a great variety of tasks, processes, and procedures involved in large and complex projects.
Estimation, planning, budgeting, cost control, resource allocation, quality management and administration of documents include only part of all processes that are covered by a project management system that is worth implementing, which often should also deal with the complexity of scheduling all available corporate resources. Such a complexity inevitably requires development and application of advanced analytical capabilities that are able to provide reliable reports and secure near real-time operability.
All processes involved in project management deal with information, often with huge amount of data required to complete a task under a particular project. Moreover, this information should be processed and then distributed among different recipients that should be allowed to also access historical information on a project’s progress over time. Therefore, most software vendors provide integrated solutions that feature functionality aimed to cover numerous processes and procedures used in a company’s day-to-day activities.
Actually, it is hard to list all functions of a modern integrated project management system, for custom solutions can be developed to meet specific requirements of an enterprise not applicable within peer companies. The high level of configurability of today’s project management software also allows corporations to deploy a ready to use solution and then use it in a very different way as compared to its usage elsewhere.
In fact, processes used in project management software do not change from one enterprise to another, but different approaches to project management are forcing software vendors to provide highly configurable solutions that often feature built-in best industry practices. This functionality is incorporated mainly into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems; nevertheless a growing number of less sophisticated (and less expensive) software solutions provide this type of advanced functionality. Subsequently, contemporary project managers are able to utilize a variety of software instruments to improve project management process used in a corporate environment, including collaboration tools running in real time.