Project Management Guide
What Is Project Management?
Project management is the process of organizing the way that changes are implemented efficiently within an organization. Many businesses achieve their goals by completing projects that contribute to their objectives. Often, projects have a finite length, involve a number of activities and people, and have deadlines and fixed budgets. Project managers plan and monitor these, and take corrective action when appropriate.
The Benefits of Developing Project Management Skills
No matter what your role, you may have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. It takes a great deal of skill to do this well, but the time you invest in building good project management skills can pay off enormously. You contribute to meeting an organization's objectives by completing projects on time and on budget. This can produce real business results and enhance your reputation. And, when you know how to organize, schedule and delegate tasks, you can also reduce stress for yourself and your team members.
Project Management Approaches
Once you are familiar with the many tools that can help you manage your projects more efficiently, you may want to learn more about the main project management methodologies. One is PMBOK, which stands for Project Management Body Of Knowledge. This approach centers on common project management skills, such as budgeting and managing inputs and outputs, and it's commonly used in the U.S.
PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. This accredited approach is widely used in the U.K. and other English-speaking countries. You use it to, among other things, clarify people's roles, keep lines of communication open, manage project risk, and establish base costs.
Agile Project Management is another popular approach. This often works well for projects in complex, fast-moving environments, because it allows you and your team to respond flexibly to changing needs and requirements.
We explore key tools from these frameworks and others with the resources below.
The core components of project management are:
- Defining the reason why a project is necessary
- Capturing project requirements, specifying quality of the deliverables, estimating resources and timescales
- Preparing a business case to justify the investment
- Securing corporate agreement and funding
- Developing and implementing a management plan for the project
- Leading and motivating the project delivery team
- Managing the risks, issues and changes on the project
- Monitoring progress against plan
- Managing the project budget
- Maintaining communications with stakeholders and the project organisation
- Provider management
- Closing the project in a controlled fashion when appropriate
When do you use project management?
Projects are separate from business-as-usual activities, requiring people to come together temporarily to focus on specific project objectives. As a result, effective teamwork is central to successful projects. Project management is concerned with managing discrete packages of work to achieve specific objectives. The way the work is managed depends upon a wide variety of factors.The scale, significance and complexity of the work are obvious factors: relocating a small office and organising the Olympics share many basic principles, but offer very different managerial challenges.
Objectives may be expressed in terms of:
- Outputs (such as a new HQ building)
- Outcomes (such as staff being relocated from multiple locations to the new HQ)
- Benefits (such as reduced travel and facilities management costs)
- Strategic objectives (such as doubling the organisation’s share price in three years).
Why do we use project management?
Project management is essentially aimed at producing an end product that will effect some change for the benefit of the organisation that instigated the project. It is the initiation, planning and control of a range of tasks required to deliver this end product. Projects that require formal management are those that:
- Produce something new or altered, tangible or intangible
- Have a finite timespan: a definite start and end
- Are likely to be complex in terms of work or groups involved
- Require the management of change
- Require the management of risks.
Investment in effective project management will have a number of benefits, such as:
- Providing a greater likelihood of achieving the desired result
- Ensuring efficient and best value use of resources
- Satisfying the differing needs of the project’s stakeholders.
No matter what your role, it's likely that you will have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. When you know how to juggle multiple tasks, people, deadlines, and responsibilities, you will strengthen your reputation and improve your promotion prospects.
Take time to learn about the various project management frameworks to run a successful project from start to finish. Discover how to schedule people and tasks more effectively, and build support for your ideas so that you get the backing and funding you need to get started. Last, familiarize yourself with change management strategies, so that you can encourage others to overcome their reluctance to change.