Project Execution is the process or activities associated with completing the project activities defined in the project plan in order to meet the project objective defined during project initiation. This is the portion of the project where most of the project effort is expended. The focus for project management is the application of resources to project activities and the collection of information concerning the results of the project work.
The primary results of the Executing processes are the project deliverables and project performance information. In addition, when issues are uncovered while performing project activities, requests for changes to the project plan should be generated.
Once the project plan is in place, the most important aspect of successful Project Execution from a project management perspective is to ensure that appropriate resources are applied to each project activity so as to correctly complete the activity on time and on budget. The project manager must use the internal and external resources available to the project to ensure this happens. The management of internal resources is such as important topic that it is discussed on its own page:
Project Team Leadership Tools and Techniques
The application of external resources will be discussed below in the section on Conduct Procurements. Even with the application of the correct resources, sometimes the results of the project activities will be other than what was expected. Therefore the other aspect of Project Execution to discuss is the use of a Project Management Information System. This system will collect the data that is eventually used by the Project Control processes.
Conducting project procurement consists of contracting with suppliers and vendors to perform the project activities that have been designated to be outsourced. The Project Planning page discussed how to determine the level of project management oversight required for a given project procurement. Now that the relationship has been determined, a supplier who is capable of performing the activity must be placed on contract. This entails typical procurement activities such as source selection and negotiations. The activities associated with administering the contract will be addressed in the Project Monitoring and Controlling page.
Project Management Information System
The Project Management Information System (PMIS) is the set of communicating methods used by the project team to share plans and results of project activities. Years ago we recommended that the team establish a central location where information could be posted for all on the team and the stakeholders to see the status. We called those project "War Rooms" - but in today's politically correct world we call them Project Management Information Systems. Another change from what we did years ago is that the typical PMIS today is an electronic system. It is an e-room, a website, a common folder on the shared drive, or a common file with different levels of access for review and update. In my experience, a PMIS today will be in one of the following forms. Which one you choose should be based upon the team dynamics and the organizational culture.
This approach is generally used with Full-scale and Complex projects. In those cases the project complexity is so high that project management software is used because of its superior capability to track inter-relationships between project activities and project resources. This is the best PMIS approach for highly complex projects. The disadvantage with this approach is that all of the stakeholders and team members must be trained and competent at using all of the features of the project management software. Some of the software programs are complex and awkward to use. They can require a significant amount of time creating a project plan and then maintaining the project status. They require special training to know how to read information and to update information. If the stakeholders and team members are not frequently using the software, they have difficulty reading and maintaining project information.
To overcome these problems, companies are beginning to hire Project specialists who are experts with the project management software. These individuals will creaet and maintain the project plan in the project management software. They then create reports in standard formats that are provided to both team members and stakeholders.
This approach is generally used with Simple and Focused projects. In those cases the project complexity is simple enough that the project activities can be planned and updated using several columns of a spreadsheet. This is often referred to as a WBS Dictionary, which is discussed in more detail on the Scope Planning page. The spreadsheet is typically easy for project team members and stakeholders to access and understand. The spreadsheet is able to manage a great deal of data and information. The disadvantage when using a spreadsheet for the PMIS is that it is difficult to track complex interactions between activities.
This method harkens back to the days when we used "War Rooms." This technique is often used with Extreme projects because of their rapid change and redirection. With the advent of modern technology the room may now be a virtual room instead of a physical room. When it is a physical room, the team meets regularly in the room to plan and track project activities. When an activity is completed, the information about the execution is posted on the whiteboard, a Post-it note, or some other document that is posted on the wall. When the room is a virtual room, the team meets in the virtual world and each participant posts their information using the tools of the virtual room technology. The advantage with this technique is the ability to quickly react to changing project conditions. The disadvantage is that everyone must have access to the physical or virtual room and if it is a virtual room there is the need for training in the use of the technology.