What is project management? We are all familiar with planning and executing a project from time to time. It is difficult to do a simple task like home improvement without budgeting time and expense, dividing tasks over several days, and following steps in order. Check out our comprehensive guide to project management to learn more about the processes, methodologies, and skill sets needed by project managers
What is Project Management?
Project Management involves planning, organizing, and managing the resources necessary to complete a specific task successfully. Typically, a project is a one-time activity that results in a specific output and or outcome, like constructing a building or installing a new computer system.
As opposed to program management, which is either a continuous process, such as a quality control program, or a coordinated effort to manage multiple projects at the same time.
The process of managing a project involves developing a plan, which identifies and confirms the project goals and objectives, how they will be achieved, identifying the tasks and determining the resources needed, as well as determining budgets and timing.
Additionally, it entails implementing the project plan, performing regular ‘controls’ to ensure there is accurate and objective information on the ‘performance’ of the project, as well as actions to implement recovery measures.
Phases and stages are commonly associated with a project, such as feasibility, definition, planning, implementation, evaluation, and realization.
Five Phases of the Process of Project Management
The project management process is broken down into five phases by the Project Management Institute (PMI), an organization well-recognized in the project management space:
The above structure has been subject to entire books, and we’ll give you the high-level info you really need to know:
It is crucial to prepare for any project in order to ensure its completion on time and on budget. To lay the foundation for the project, identify the following during the initiation phase:
- The scope of the project: Specify the project’s limits and boundaries. Project objectives define what the project will accomplish and what will not (i.e., outcomes). The purpose of setting these boundaries is to prevent what is known as “scope creep.”
- A high-level overview of the project: It takes into account resources, time, and goals involved in completing a project. Monitoring these requirements over time is also included in the overview.
Creating a successful project requires a budget. How much is required?
The goal of this phase is to set key milestones and dates, including the completion date for the project. You can help team members meet their goals by being clear and intentional about project timing. In addition to saving you confusion, this will also help you avoid stumbling upon roadblocks ahead.
The team’s project management methodology must be outlined during this phase. You have many options to choose from, such as Agile, Waterfall, PMBOK, Lean, and Kanban (to name a few of the more common ones). Later in this guide, we’ll discuss some of these details in more detail.
As part of the planning phase, you should also consider:
- Selecting the members of the team
- A breakdown of deliverables
- Estimating the resources needed
- Identifying associated activities
Getting stuff done is all that matters at this point. You will implement the specifics of your project plan (or project deliverables) during the execution phase to ensure the success of your project. Execution occurs concurrently with monitoring and controlling and may include:
- Workflow management
- Making recommendations for improvements
A project manager needs to consider the location of the project at any given time in relation to the location that should be there according to the project plan at any given time in the life cycle. A monitoring procedure should include:
- Checking in on projects regularly and consistently
- Track projects using proper tools and frameworks (such as Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and team meetings). This should be done in a visual and real-time manner, as you can then easily communicate with key players and adjust as needed.
A final step, also known as “delivery,” involves wrapping up all activities and delivering the final product to the client (internal team or external stakeholder).
Other components that could be added are:
- A formal contract or agreement is concluded
- Review and assess what went well and what did not go as planned, and learn from this experience for future teams and projects.
Since every industry is different and every project differs, there are specific methods for managing work in the project management industry. These methodologies emphasize the best methods for initiating, planning, and executing projects.
Choose the method that meets the needs of your organization, its goals and values, and the complexity of the project.
The following six project management methodologies provide an overview:
In agile project management, deliverables are iterated throughout a project’s lifecycle. … Software development projects frequently use iterative approaches to improve their pace and adaptability since iteration allows them to make adjustments as they go rather than following a linear path.
As a more iterative or change-driven approach to project management, agile is growing in popularity. The Agile methodology positions itself as being able to adapt rapidly to change or course correction and turn around projects more quickly. People-centric agile methodologies are known for their use of short, agile phases called sprints, reshaping and refining the project path continuously based on ongoing feedback.
The success of Agile in software development explains its rapid adoption in marketing. Creative/marketing teams that use Agile have reported that it allows them to avoid monotonous development cycles typical of more traditional methods and boosts creativity at the same time.
Kanban project management
The Kanban methodology is meant to improve team productivity, so anything that isn’t working for your team should be changed.
Kanban is used mostly by developers to keep track of user stories that need to be addressed. It is the responsibility of the business owners/stakeholders to ensure that list is kept up to date and prioritized because that is the only source of work for the developers.
An employee pulls a new story from the backlog and places it in the “In Progress” column on the Kanban board as soon as they are ready. Until the project is finished, it moves from one board to another. Until the team member(s) handling that project have completed their current task, they should not move on to another project in the backlog.
Simply put, Kanban is a project management system that helps you keep an eye on the tasks that need to be completed as well as the ones that have been completed. The central aspect of the method is a physical or electronic board with three columns (To Do, In Progress, Done) and tasks displayed as story cards.
Waterfall project management
The waterfall methodology is a sequential, top-down approach to managing projects that evolved from more traditional work management methodologies. When a project manager uses Waterfall, they outline all the steps and define the scope, budget, and schedule of the project upfront in order to eliminate risk and uncertainty.
Investing time early in a project in proper requirements and design will ultimately save time, effort, and problems down the road. The main way to accomplish this is to ensure that each phase of a project has been completed successfully before moving on to the next.
According to Waterfall project management, a project is divided into distinct phases, each of which begins only after the previous one is finished. Waterfall is a traditional process for managing a project, in which team members work toward a set goal in a linear manner.
Scrum project management
Agile methodologies organize projects into sprints, or clearly defined time periods. Teams plan realistic deadlines and a backlog of tasks that have to be accomplished during a sprint.
As part of the sprint, team members report on what they accomplished the previous day, what they plan to accomplish the following day, and any roadblocks that may prevent them from completing their tasks on time. At the end of each sprint, accomplishments are reviewed in a meeting.
Scrum is a methodology for organizing projects that involve a small team and a Scrum master who helps remove barriers to completing projects. In Scrum, teams are able to rapidly develop and test products, especially when working in small groups
Six Sigma project management
Using Six Sigma, an organization can increase customer satisfaction, reduce wasted resources, and reduce waste and errors. By analyzing and using data, Six Sigma reduces errors and maximizes value in any business process, from manufacturing to management.
Data-driven decision-making is encouraged by this methodology, which considers project financial returns. In order to be successful with Six Sigma, organizations must reduce variation in their processes, define, measure, and control these processes, and buy-in from the entire organization.
Hybrid project management
It is not possible for one single methodology to work for all organizations or projects. You can increase benefits and improve the quality of your project with a hybrid approach, which combines different methodologies. Consider merging Agile and Waterfall into Scrumban or Scrum and Kanban into Scrumban.
Any hybrid approach begins with a well-versed project manager who knows how to blend elements for maximum project results.
Traditionally, hybrid project management (hybridizing Agile and Waterfall project management) means planning projects using a work breakdown structure (WBS) and the Waterfall approach. By doing so, teams are better able to grasp the scope of a project and the tasks involved.
8 tips for successful project management
In the right hands, projects can lead to the development of new products and services, the transformation of internal business processes, and the enhancement of customer experiences.
They can however result in a lack of innovation and waste of time and money if the right building blocks are not in place.
In this article, you will find 8 tips for project management that will propel your organization instead of letting it stagnate.
1. Put resources into the planning and initiation phases
Whenever the question of Why do projects fail arises, many of the reasons can be attributed to poor research and planning – crucial portions of the initiating and planning stages of a project. Having organizational priorities, objectives, and requirements established, synchronized, and agreed upon early on makes it less likely that later confusion will result.
2. Choose the right methodology or framework for your project
Finding the right framework or methodology is the second step to successful project management. The project management methodology is a set of guiding principles and processes for planning, managing, and executing projects.
This framework determines how work is prioritized, completed, and visualized, regardless of whether the critical path methodology or Waterfall is used.
3. Encourage a culture of ownership and transparency
With complexities and sensitivities arising during the course of a project, transparency can make all the difference. As long as team members and leaders believe in a culture of transparency, they can raise flags and take responsibility for their work regardless of how complex or stressful your plans get.
Communicating clearly begins with understanding long-term goals, KPIs (key performance indicators), and plans – as well as where they fit into the big picture. An excellent way to achieve this is to have all employees participate in the planning process (at least to some degree) and to empower them by using a solid project management workflow.
Having employees self-manage will help them perform better (so long, micro-management), and motivating them to perform at their best will result from a greater sense of accountability.
4. Decide on a realistic scope
Project managers have to deal with scope creep as one of their main challenges. The scope of a project often changes unforeseen circumstances during the course of a project, according to 52% of companies.
Even though some factors are uncontrollable throughout a project, bringing the right people to the table from the start can help you better define the project scope. It is helpful for initiating and planning the project to include experienced stakeholders and team members. It may even be possible to refer back to previous projects to help clarify the scoping stage.
5. Organize your schedule wisely
You need to create a work schedule that is realistic to the workload of your team and the due date for delivery if you want your team to remain productive. Although perfecting project management timelines is almost impossible, balancing these two factors is worthwhile.
Communicating schedules in a clear and timely manner can help mitigate delays and setbacks. Your team’s time management can also be affected by the project management methodology you use. Agile frameworks like Scrum focus more on the short-term and smaller increments of deliverables. You should also allow time for things that you did not plan for when planning a project.
6. Managing resources effectively
Managing your resources efficiently is the essence of effective project management. It involves pre-planning, scheduling, and allocating your resources. An example of resource management in the physical sense would be a construction project contractor booking a concrete pourer for two sites rather than paying for the cost of two at the same time.
When it comes to digital projects, resources usually refer to employees or teams. In order to get the job done, you’ll need to plan with the graphic designer since they may have multiple concurrent projects. In addition to people, capital, and other materials, there are numerous other resources on the list.
7. Get stakeholders engaged
Stakeholders are people directly involved in the success of a project. Clients, internal product users, executives, or product managers could be involved. Team and project managers should not skimp on any required work for their projects in order to garner their support-financial and otherwise.
During and after a project, these parties should communicate and provide input. When? In light of the organization’s goals and the team’s capabilities, each of them provides unique insights and perspectives.
8. Utilize top-of-the-line software and tools for project management
In a company with a project management system built around spreadsheets and emails, there is no chance for success. Such a system is neither practical, scalable, nor transparent.
Whether it is remote work, inter-departmental collaboration, cloud file sharing, or 100 other variables different for each organization, a modern project management platform is essential.
Importance of Project Management
In order to make this point clear, let’s discuss some of the primary benefits of project management.
1. Improved alignment with project management
It’s likely you’d be surprised to discover how murky things are overall, even within your own project or organization. One-third of leaders charged with implementing a company’s strategy had not been able to identify even one of their company’s strategic priorities, according to a study at the School of Management at MIT.
That’s awful. Although project management isn’t a quick fix, it is an important step in the right direction. It is imperative that at the outset of a project, the entire project team understands not only the project objectives, but also how those objectives support broader business goals.
2. Project management boosts collaboration
When people don’t know their responsibilities or when to complete their individual tasks, projects grind to a halt. As part of project management, a detailed project plan is developed that clarifies the scope, roles, and action items associated with the project.
By doing so, a project team can collaborate a lot more effectively and efficiently than they would be able to if they simply rolled their sleeves up and jumped right in without that much-needed clarity.
3. Risks and Pitfalls Can Be Avoided With Project Management
The best-laid plans have been heard many times, right? Usually, they don’t go as planned. The occasional wrench still gets thrown into your well-thought-out project plan. Perhaps you can’t get the resource you need or the approval process takes longer than you expected.
During a project’s planning and management process, backup plans must be identified to guard against these types of risks. When roadblocks arise, you can steer around them without breaking your project’s wheels.
4. Project management reduces the burden of work
One survey of over 2,000 employees in the U.S. found that more than 60% reported feeling stressed three or more days a week. What could be causing this anxious feeling? Too many tasks on their to-do list.
If you do not have a good understanding of who is doing what, you might spread your team members too thin. The right project management can help you manage people’s capacity and ensure they are given a reasonable workload across all the projects they are working on.
5. More successful projects are a result of project management
The most important benefit, though: Project management will help you win more projects.
Maintaining a rock-solid plan and carefully monitoring progress increases your chances of delivering a project that satisfies goals, meets requirements and stays on budget and on schedule.
Furthermore, project management provides greater chances for course correction and evaluation by the project team. Before investing more time and energy, they can make adjustments when things don’t go as planned.