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Course Introduction

Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne is a faculty member at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. Listen as she describes the course.
Welcome to the Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management. My name is Yael Grushka-Cockayne and I’m an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Over the next four weeks we’re gonna together learn some basic ideas and develop a common language around what it takes to plan and manage projects. Our course is developed and built over four weeks. Week 1 is titled, Lets Get things Started, and covers all the activities that take place before we even start a project. Weeks 2 and 3, in gray on my screen are associated with the planning of projects. Week 2 is titled Developing Plans. And Week 3 talks about a risky world, It’s a Risky World.
In Week 4, the orange, Ready, Set, Go! We’re gonna be talking about the actual execution of projects. Let me give you just a little bit more detail on what we’re gonna cover in each one of the four weeks. As I said, week one is all about the initiation of a project. How do we define it, how do we organize our project from the get go to make sure that we’re off to a good start. We’re gonna define the project goal and we’re gonna think of three objectives associated with the project. The scope, the time, and the budget. We’re also gonna be very careful and identify the priorities that we have among these three objectives.
Finally, we’re gonna think about the organization. Who are those folks involved in the project, affected by the project and critical for the project’s success? As part of Week 1, we’re also gonna take a little bit of time to look at successes and failures of projects, that we think about. It will help us learn some lessons and make sure that we avoid any pitfalls that we can.
Weeks 2 and 3, as I said, are all about the planning. In Week 2, we are gonna develop a plan. We’re gonna start by scoping a project. How do we make sure that a project has the content and has the right set of activities that we would like it to have? We’re also gonna define dependencies and sequences of activities, what has to come before what. Ultimately, one of our main goals is to come up with a schedule. How long will it take us to execute our project? And we’re gonna learn some techniques in how to do that. In Week 2, we’re also gonna focus on the trade-offs.
How do we trade off duration with cost and with scope in order to ensure that we are satisfied with the plan that we’re putting forward, and in order to make sure that we have our key priorities when we come to make decisions during the project life cycle.
Week 3, we’re still planning. We’re not quite ready for execution yet. And we’re gonna think about risk. We’re gonna assess the risks associated with the project with the schedule with the cost, even with the scope, and we’re gonna be cautious about how we can plan for ambiguity. How we can plan for uncertainty and ambiguity in order to make sure that we’re not surprised during the execution. Finally, in Week 4 we’re gonna be ready to talk about executing projects. In order to really understand how to execute projects and how to make the most out of the project execution, we’re gonna be thoughtful of those involved in the project.
Who are the individuals that are doing the work, and what kind of tendencies do they have? And how those tendencies might suggest a certain mode of execution. Should we use earned value analysis? Should we use a more agile approach such as scrum or kanban? And how do these ideas come together in the concepts of our project, and how do they support the priorities and the goals that we set out to achieve with our project. Now this is a fundamental course, and we’re here to gain a common appreciation, and a common language to anything, or everything that has to do with project planning, and project execution.
There are a few topics that we don’t have time or scope to cover in this course together. We’re not gonna cover exact certification process or study for specific exam by one institution or another. And we’re not gonna become experts in using one software tool versus another software tool. There are many project management tools out there. We’re gonna hear about a few, but we’re not gonna become expert in one specific one. Another topic that unfortunately we’re not gonna cover here together is project portfolio, project portfolio management, project portfolio selection. But there is enough for us to dig into, and there is a whole lot that I’m excited to teach you over the next four weeks. So let’s get going.

What are the basic ideas and common language around what it takes to successfully and effectively plan and manage 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, you 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. You will be more cognizant of considering project stakeholders’ opinions, recognize the need and benefits from proper project planning, be aware of the different project life-cycle 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 of you 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.

Project Management Institute (PMI®) Professional Development Units (PDUs)

Are you interested in PDUs for your PMI certification? As a Project Management Institute (PMI®) Registered Education Provider, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business has been approved by PMI to issue (PDUs) for this course, which focuses on core competencies recognized by PMI.

Provider #2122

Learn more about reporting PDUs here.

Learn More About Me

Learn more about me here. and feel free to follow me on Twitter @grushkay

Course Format

This course consists of a series of video lectures, supplemental case studies and software tutorials, discussion opportunities, and weekly quizzes. It is divided into four weeks as follows:

  1. Welcome to the World of Projects
  2. The Ins and Outs of Project Planning
  3. It’s a Risky World and Then the Unexpected Happened
  4. Ready, Set, Go: Project Execution

Course Map and Powerpoint Slides

Make sure to view/download the course map and all of the powerpoint slides for each week of the course that is included below this article under “Downloads.”

Recommended Readings and Freely Available Tools

The video lectures are designed to be self-contained; therefore we recommend but do not require any readings. Please see the attached document called “Recommended Readings” for the list. To access and explore freely available tools for your projects, see the attached document called “Project Tools.” Both of these documents are located under “Downloads.”

As a Reminder You Can Get Extra Benefits By Upgrading Your Course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests: Ensure you’ve mastered the material with access to tests on the course.

A Certificate of Achievement: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

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Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

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