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software project management questions

By morphine ·
Please help me... i cant find the answers.

i have 3 questions here:

1. 3 examples of activities that are projects & 3 example of activities that are not projects?

2. how is project management different from general management?

3. why do u think so many IT Projects are unsuccesfull?

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Let?s see if I can help

by marcoshac In reply to software project manageme ...


I am not an expert on this issue, but I am doing right now a course on PM, and also working as a PM.

Let?s see

1) Activities that are not projects could be something that is out of the projects scope. Let?s say you are building a house. Build the roof is an activity of building a house, so it is part of your project. Now, to put a swimming pool on the backyard is not an activity of building a house (well, could be if the contractor say that you should do it, which is not the case), so this can be consider a non project activity

2) General mangement is wider than project management. As the words say, project management deals with the project only, with a start date and a end date. Now general management, youcan also add HR activities for instance...

3) Many times we do not consider many factors when building a system, because many people tend to not understand correctly the problem... Also, many time sit is difficult to measure the real improvement, or benefit when you have your IT in place...

I don?t know if this answers your questions.. Maybe I did not understand what you mean, but I hope I helped!!


Marcos Henrique
(PS.:Greetings from Brazil!!)

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Difference between Project and not

by ttucker In reply to Let?s see if I can help

Hey there,

Historically a project has been defined in the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) as: a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or Service. So for example, putting together cars on an assembly line would not be unique, more like a repeatable process (and would probably utilize something like Six Sigma to manage the process) where as rolling out a new ERP system would be unique with a well defined beginning and end. That is where you would apply Project Management processes.

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Project -> Process


In my opinnion, the PMBOK definition is the most precise one. However, it is sometimes difficult to determine if a piece of work is a project or not, based on the fact that the project's product (whatever is created) is unique or not.

Something that can help you understand the difference between a project and a process is for example, the development of a software system (a project) and its the work needed to support it once is is on production (process / operations).

Lucas Rodr?guez Cervera

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A partial answer to your question

by Gordon.Ferrier In reply to software project manageme ...

Project management, as its name suggests, is a form of management. The term "management" has very broad scope: I can attempt to manage all sorts of things, including programmes, people, time, and so on. I bring (or at least try to bring) a range of skills, experience and values to that process, all of which are likely to have some relevance to project management. Project management is narrower in its scope than management generally: it is restricted to the defined set of outcomes, activities, objectives, constraints and resources that constitute the project concerned. But other than that, everything you know about management is relevant to project management.
Hope that helps!

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I hope these help ...

by In reply to software project manageme ...

In my humble opinion:

1) a project has a start and end date, and a scope (i.e. what you aim to achieve). Typically you will design, develop, and implement a system and all the elements which go to achieving that are part of the project. e.g. specify requirements; hire staff; test software; order hardware; etc. The scope of the project defines what is to be achieved and the project plan shows how you aim to achieve it and in what timescales/ budget. What is not a project is the ongoing support after go-live. This type of activity has an unknown set of requirements in terms of scope and timing, and has no foreseable end date. It also requires different staff (IMHO) therefore part of the project plan should be the setting up and handover to the support team with the disbanding of the project team. A good project manager will work himself out of a job ON THAT PROJECT. But if he has done a good job, the company will obviously put him (sorry or her) at the top of the list for future projects.

2) I think that project management is best served by people with sound project experience. There is a great deal of time and pain to be saved by employing someone who has 'been there, done that and got the tee-shirt'. A general manager has more of a role to manage both the support and day to day running of a department, but also will probably decide the priority and sequence of projects.

3) Scope Creep! I feel VERY STRONGLY that one of the major reasons projects fail is due to not clearly defining the scope at the outset and extending it during the life of the project. This is often due to new items being introduced which take 'no time at all' to do. Rubbish! Everything takes some time and very often, by the end of the project you will have scrapped some of them which again has taken time. On my first freelance project 20+ years ago I had to bring a failing project back under control (3 years development and no foreseable end date, no published costs). To get the users to be realistic on their (new) requirements I gave them a money cost of each change based on the time it would take to include in the development. I also pointed out the impact on the 'go-live-date' and they were very much more selective with their requests. (The project was subsequently successful and came in on time and within budget to the revised plan I published). This example was meant to be 'proof of concept' rather than 'whoopee aren't I great'.

I hope that helps, I am not saying that newly trained PMs should not get jobs, I simply think that PMs with experience in most cases see trouble coming at a greater distance and have probably more ideas on how to stop it killing the project. Of course people must learn - just work together.

Roy Sharp (

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I second that...

by tagmarkman In reply to I hope these help ...

I very strongly agree with all three points. I've had similar experiences in the past 16 years.

In addition to scope creep, I would place Communication. This is one of the main reasons why project and program managers exist, to facilitate communication.

Almost any good developer can pound out a program by themselves but in order to build a professional enterprise product you need a team and teams need to communicate. This can be difficult enough from developer to developer, now added disparate teams , cross-departmental requirements, cost centers, and perspectives... and you're playing a whole different game.

Have fun,

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by ProcessGuy In reply to software project manageme ...

You may want to visit the Project Management Institute web site ( and consider joining.
A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Three examples of projects might be:
1. Develop a software application that does A, B and C
2. Upgrade all user's PCs from Windows 2000 to Windows XP
3. Build a house that satisfies this list of requirements.
Three things that aren't projects:
1. Correct bugs in a released software product
2. Provide help desk support to Windows XP users
3. Mow the lawn weekly.

Project Management differs from general management in that the successful project manager is trying to work himself out of a job. In other words, projects are meant to begin and end. This creates more focus on scope management and resource scheduling than might be typical in general management. Other facets, such as budget, quality, communication, etc are similar to GM requirements.

The main causes of IT project failure are almost always incorrect or incomplete requirements definition and scope creep.

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No Planning

by kwf777 In reply to software project manageme ...

When we build new buildings or sports arenas, the architectual firms spend months planning to begin the actual activity of building. However in IT, we are not allowed to spend time planning. Both the upper management and the customer expect immediate results and therefore we get bogged down in unnecessary rework that could be eliminated if we just took the proper amount of time to plan.

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No Planning

by troush In reply to No Planning

Amen! Ok, now for the obvious (million dollar) question. We know the old saying 'Proper Prior Planning Prevents **** Poor Performance.' We even know the right way to do discovery and all that other prep work that *should* be done before the developers type the first lines of code. How do we convince the powers that be (management, client, whoever) that this planning is necessary and will payoff long-term (without kicking, screaming and throwing a temper tantrum, of course)?

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Good questions - Too many answers

by wparke In reply to software project manageme ...

Rather than providing different examples of projects and non-projects, let's concentrate on one example and see if we can discern the difference between the two. I love the example provided by another submitter that lists mowing the lawn weekly as a non-project.

Mowing the lawn weekly is not a project because has no start and end dates, and requires very little planning other than securing resources and providing time and supplies.

On the other hand, determining the most efficient way to mow the lawn could be considered a project.
For this, we'd need to determine quite a bit of information like lot size, available equipment, obstacles, weather patterns, and possibly dozens of other things. Our project would begin when we're told to determine the most efficient way to mow the lawn and would end when we present our findings. The actual mowing would not stop during the project, and may or may not change as a result of the project.

Now, on to project management verses general management. Sally has been acruing far too much comp time for the last several pay periods. Do I care? Well, if I'm Sally's manager, I absolutely care. Her performance has a direct effect on the bottom line of the agency. If she's part of a project team and I'm the project manager, my only concern is the number of hours per pay period that she's billing to this specific project. If she's exceeding the planned number of hours to be spent on this project, I care! If she's billing the extra time to other efforts, God bless her.
Bill wears blue jeans to work in direct conflict with the company dress code. Does it affect my project? Maybe, maybe not. If it does not, I'm not saying a word to him about it. The management of projects has an extremely limited focus. If it does not effect the project, it's not your concern as the project manager.

Why are so many IT projects unsuccessful? Failure to plan. This happens for a number of reasons and in a number of ways, but it is still the responsibility of the project manager to make sure that planning happens. My supervisor constantly requests "ball park" figures. He always receives the same response from me - "It will be less than a ball park." Estimates come from planning, and planning takes time. To jump in without proper planning is a recipe for disaster.

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