What is Project Management?

A group of project managers working

Project Management is a systematic and organized approach to planning, coordinating, and overseeing the work of a team to achieve a specific goal. It involves defining the project scope and objectives, creating a detailed plan, and identifying the resources and schedule required to complete the project.

The project manager is responsible for coordinating the work of the team, monitoring progress, and making any necessary adjustments to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.

PM is used in a variety of industries and can be applied to projects of different sizes and complexities. It is a valuable tool for ensuring that projects are completed efficiently and effectively, and can help organizations achieve their goals and objectives.

Key to understanding Project Management, is to understand what a project is.

What is a Project

The Project Management Institutes (PMI) PMBOK defines a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” This definition emphasizes the temporary and unique nature of a project, with a predetermined start and end date, as well as its focus on creating a specific outcome. The PMI also notes that a project is typically different from ongoing operations or business as usual and that it requires the coordination of various resources and activities in order to achieve its objectives.

From start to finish, a project usually goes through 5 phases, called the Project Life Cycle. These include :

Defining the Project

In this stage, the role of a project manager is to define what the project is and what the users hope to achieve by undertaking the project. This phase also includes a list of project deliverables, the outcome of a specific set of activities. The project manager works with the business sponsor or manager who wants to have the project implemented and other stakeholders — those who have a vested interest in the outcome of the project.

Planning the Project

Define all project activities. In this stage, the project manager lists all activities or tasks, how the tasks are related, how long each task will take, and how each tasks is tied to a specific deadline. This phase also allows the project manager to define relationships between tasks, so that, for example, if one task is x number of days late, the project tasks related to it will also reflect a comparable delay. Likewise, the project manager can set milestones, dates by which important aspects of the project need to be met.

Define requirements for completing the project. In this stage, the project manager identifies how many people (often referred to as “resources”) and how much expense (“cost”) is involved in the project, as well as any other requirements that are necessary for completing the project. The project manager will also need to manage assumptions and risks related to the project. The project manager will also want to identify project constraints. Constraints typically relate to schedule, resources, budget, and scope. A change in one constraint will typically affect the other constraints. For example, a budget constraint may affect the number of people who can work on the project, thereby imposing a resource constraint. Likewise, if additional features are added as part of the project scope, that could affect scheduling, resources, and budget.

Executing the Project

Build the project team. In this phase, the project manager knows how many resources and how much budget he or she has to work with for the project. The project manager then assigns those resources and allocates the budget for various tasks in the project. Now the work of the project begins.

Controlling the Project

The project manager is in charge of updating the project plans to reflect the actual time elapsed for each task. By keeping up with the details of progress, the project manager is able to understand how well the project is progressing overall. A product such as Microsoft Project facilitates the administrative aspects of project management.

Closure of the Project

In this stage, the project manager and business owner pull together the project team and those who have an interest in the outcome of the project (stakeholders) to analyze the final outcome of the project.

Time, Money, Scope

Frequently, people refer to project management as having three components: time, money, and scope. Reducing or increasing any one of the three will probably have an impact on the other two. If a company reduces the amount of time it can spend on a project, that will affect the scope (what can be included in the project) as well as the cost (since additional people or resources may be required to meet the abbreviated schedule).

Project Portfolio Management

In this stage, the role of a project manager is to define what the project is and what the users hope to achieve by undertaking the project. This phase also includes a list of project deliverables, the outcome of a specific set of activities. The project manager works with the business sponsor or manager who wants to have the project implemented and other stakeholders — those who have a vested interest in the outcome of the project.

History of Project Management

It’s impossible to determine when the concept of one person managing, resources, to achieve a predetermined outcome, on or before a specific time, at a specific cost, was formed. If you are religious you can trace the concept of project management back to when Noah commenced the project of building an Ark.

In the Bible, God instructs Noah to build an ark to save his family and a pair of animals from a great flood. This would have required Noah to plan and coordinate the construction of the ark, as well as gather the necessary resources and manage the logistics of boarding the animals onto the ark. In this way, Noah’s Ark could be seen as a large-scale project that required careful management in order to be successful.

The construction of the pyramids in ancient Egypt is another prime example of the earliest These massive structures required careful planning and coordination of a large number of people and resources. The pharaohs who commissioned the pyramids would have needed to create a project plan, identify the resources required (including materials and labor), and establish a timeline for the project.

They would also have needed to manage the logistics of acquiring the necessary resources and coordinating the efforts of the workers. In this way, the construction of the pyramids was a complex project that required careful management in order to be successful.

Project Management as a Profession

As a Profession, it has its roots in the 1950s and 1960s when the U.S. government began using it to manage complex defense projects. Since then, the discipline has evolved and grown, and it is now used in many different industries. In the 1970s, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was founded to promote the practice of project management and provide professional certification for project managers. Today, project management is a well-established profession with a robust body of knowledge and a wide range of tools and techniques to help professionals plan and manage projects.

Project management is a profession that is in high demand today, as organizations of all sizes compete with each other to produce goods and services and make a profit.

It helps these organizations to do this by providing a structured approach to planning and executing projects, which can help them to complete projects on time and within budget. This can give organizations a competitive advantage and help them to achieve their business goals. Additionally, effective project management can help organizations deliver high-quality products and services, which can help to build customer loyalty and drive long-term success.

Why is Project Management Important?

Irrespective of the nature, size, or complexity of a project, all projects need careful planning, organization, implementation, and monitoring. Without such, projects can either fail or become challenged.

In order to deliver successful projects, one needs to implement various processes and follow best practices.

Here is a list of the top benefits of implementing best practices :

  1. Strategic alignment with organizational goals
  2. Consistent and speedy decisions
  3. Improvement in customer satisfaction
  4. Realistic estimation and planning
  5. Effective resource allocation
  6. Higher productivity and improved resource utilization
  7. Increase in employee motivation and morale
  8. Improved quality of end product
  9. Saves time for implementation
  10. Reduces overall cost
  11. Facilitates proactive risk management

Stages of Project Management :

Project Management Methodologies

PM is about more than just getting the work done. It’s also about how you approach the work, and what methods you use to get things done. There are two main approaches to project management: waterfall, agile, and hybrid approaches.

Waterfall

Waterfall project management is an approach where a project is broken down into successive stages, each with its own specific deliverable and endpoint. Once a stage is completed, the team moves on to the next stage with little opportunity to change earlier stages.

This method is often used for large, complex projects that require a high level of control and predictability. If the requirements for a project are well-defined and unlikely to change significantly, waterfall project management may be the best option.

Agile

Agile project management is a more flexible approach focusing on adapting to change and delivering value early and often. Agile teams work in short, iterative cycles called “sprints,” and they use principles and practices, such as the Agile Manifesto, to guide their work.

Agile is used in a wide range of industries, including software development, IT, construction, engineering, and many others

Hybrid

Hybrid combines elements of traditional and agile pm to create a customized approach that meets the specific needs of the project. For example, a hybrid pm approach might use a traditional project management framework for the overall project, but use agile methods for specific parts of the project.

Hybrid pm is often used in large, complex projects that require a high level of control and predictability, but where some degree of flexibility and adaptability is also needed. For example, a hybrid approach might use a traditional framework for the overall project, but use agile methods for specific parts of the project, such as for managing the development of new features or capabilities.

Scrum

The Scrum framework helps teams work together more effectively by implementing the Agile methodology. In Scrum, everyone on the team works together to plan and execute the project in short sprints. This approach allows for regular checkpoints to monitor progress and make necessary changes.

Scrum is a framework that can be used in a variety of different industries, including software development, marketing, product design, and many others.

Kanban:

The Kanban methodology is a visual system for tracking and managing work flow. In Kanban, teams use a board to visualize the progress of each task and identify areas where there may be bottlenecks or opportunities for improvement. This approach can help optimize the efficiency of work flow.


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10 Project Management Knowledge Areas

The 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas, as defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in its Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), are:

  1. Project Integration Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to coordinate and integrate the various components of a project.
  2. Project Scope Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to define and control the scope of a project.
  3. Project Time Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to plan, schedule, and control the duration of a project.
  4. Project Cost Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to plan, estimate, budget, and control the costs of a project.
  5. Project Quality Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to ensure that the quality of the project meets the specified requirements and expectations.
  6. Project Human Resource Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to plan, organize, and manage the human resources involved in a project.
  7. Project Communications Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to manage the flow of information among the various stakeholders of a project.
  8. Project Risk Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with a project.
  9. Project Procurement Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to acquire goods and services from external suppliers to support the project.
  10. Project Stakeholder Management: This knowledge area focuses on the processes and activities required to identify, analyze, and manage the stakeholders of a project.

These knowledge areas are interrelated and should be considered in the context of the overall project management process. MPUG has a variety of resources for you to learn more about these topics.

Project Management Certification

It is important to choose a project management approach before choosing a certification because the approach you choose will determine the specific skills and knowledge you need to learn in order to effectively manage your project.

Different approaches have different requirements and emphases on different areas of project management, such as scope, time, cost, quality, risk, and stakeholder management. By choosing a specific approach, you can ensure that the certification you choose aligns with the needs of your approach and will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed as a project manager. Once you have decided on the methodology, consider the following :

Accreditation: Make sure the certification program is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the International Project Management Association (IPMA).

Requirements: Check the requirements for the certification, such as educational background, work experience, and exam requirements, and make sure you meet them before applying.

Some of the best-known and most widely recognized project management certifications include the following:

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI): This certification is designed for experienced project managers and requires individuals to pass an exam and meet certain experience and education requirements.
  2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification from PMI: This certification is designed for individuals who are new to project management and want to demonstrate their understanding of the discipline.
  3. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification from the Scrum Alliance: This certification is designed for individuals who want to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in using the Scrum framework for project management.
  4. Google Project Management Certificate : A professional certificate by Google

Conclusion

Every project is unique and inherently risky. Without proper project management, things can become chaotic. Successful implementation of pm processes can bring about structure and order.

By following the best practices of project management, you can get clarity on objectives, improve an implementation plan, reduce risk, and deliver a quality product on time and within budget. You can improve overall customer satisfaction, motivate team members, and make stakeholders happy.


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