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Special report: Project management

Projects are a key way of working in businesses across all sectors these days. In fact, I imagine that there are very few of us that have not contributed to a project at some point in our careers.

There are myriad roles that you may perform in a project, such as sponsor, champion, steering group member, project lead, project member, project accountant and more. Since this report is intended to be an overview of the key aspects of project management it should provide a great starting point for any professional accountant about to perform any of these functions.

The report also contains details of recent developments, current issues and suggestions for further reading, so hopefully there will be something for the more seasoned project team member too.

This report specifically addresses formal projects; however much of the information may also be useful in informing other, less formal, assignments. The tools and techniques simply need to be tailored to the ‘project’ in hand.

The ICAEW chartered accountants that I spoke to when scoping and reviewing this report provided some words of warning that you might like to heed when embarking on your first project:

  • human factors are key. Poor stakeholder management, lack of a project sponsor and/or failure to secure buy-in across the business are all quick routes to failure. (Human aspects are discussed throughout the report, but for further reading on this important issue see the faculty references on page 20, particularly the Finance & Management special report on managing change);
  • be warned, project management is about a lot more than using software to plan and coordinate activities. IT is a useful tool, but can’t do the entire job for you; and
  • project management is a professional discipline and major projects will require a degree of expertise and experience.

If this report has whet your appetite for more detailed coverage of any area of project management then please let me know and we can look at producing further guidance on this topic.

Published by the Finance and Management faculty (SR33 - June 2011)

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Full report only available to ICAEW members and students.