What is Project Management?
Most articles (including many of our own!) dive right into more advanced information about project management. To balance this, we thought it would be helpful to have an article answering the question “what is project management?”.
Even if you have a general idea of the definition of project management, or have worked informally with projects for some time, it can be very helpful and enlightening to get back to basics.
Project Management Definition:
If you pare things back to a very basic definition, project management is the planning and execution of any initiative.
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In This Article:
What is considered a “project”?
The answer to this question is completely up to you. Any task with a beginning, middle, and end can be considered a project.
Projects of all sizes and time-scales crop up in every aspect of our lives. You’re probably managing projects in both your professional and personal life more than you realise.
Some business project management examples:
- Creating a new product or service for a customer.
- Improving a current product or service.
- Working to improve how a process is completed in your workplace.
- Changing your product or business brand.
- Deciding what to do for the office Christmas party… and organising the office Christmas party!
Some everyday project management examples:
- Buying a new home or car.
- Planning a holiday.
- Planning a wedding.
- Undertaking a new fitness or healthy eating plan.
Why is Project Management Important?
There are so many benefits of project management. Here, we have highlighted 8 advantages you’ll gain by implementing a structured approach to running projects in your business or team.
Let’s delve into these benefits to understand why project management is so important:
1. Leadership and Ownership
By having a project manager – or a number of defined project managers – you’ll avoid the “too many cooks” pitfall that can occur with leaderless projects.
A project manager takes ownership of planning and running the project. They ensure that everything that needs to get done is completed on time, and they can take decisive action when needed.
2. Structure and Clarity
Implementing a project management approach within your business eliminates a lot of confusion.
Those who work on a project are aware of their role and its responsibilities. There is a defined structure and process for how the project will be completed.
This saves a lot of time and prevents tasks from being missed or – just as counterproductive – completed more than once!
3. Lower Risk
In the early planning stages of a project, the project manager will identify any potential risks that might occur.
They will then set measures in place to dodge these risks, and implement contingencies to respond rapidly should these risks prove unavoidable.
4. Steady Momentum
A good project manager keeps everything moving.
They track the progress of tasks within a project’s life cycle and support the project team in staying on track.
5. Better customer relationships
Project managers use both stakeholder management during a project, and utilise project management tools to deliver quality products or services to your customers on time.
This approach helps your customer relationships thrive.
6. Improve processes
Process improvement is truly the way forward for businesses that want to maximise productivity
and eliminate waste.
While methodologies like Lean Six Sigma
are needed to implement in-depth process improvement, you will find that effective project management
will help you to identify areas that can be adjusted for better performance
7. Maximise your resources
A large part of the project manager’s role is mapping out how resources (time, people, tools, materials) can be used most efficiently to achieve project goals.
This happens during the initial planning phase of a project. Clever project managers will review resources and adjust accordingly as work progresses.
8. Develop a Strong Strategy
Continuous and consistent project management can greatly enhance the ability of the organisation’s leadership team to map out both short and long term strategies for your business.
Using the detailed information from current and past projects, company leaders can accurately assess what can be achieved within 6 months, 1 year, or even for a longer, 5-year strategy. Project managers can support the leadership team in this process with recommendations and feedback.
What does a project manager do?
The project manager is responsible for guiding a project through each stage of its life cycle.
They are the project planners, scoping out every aspect of resources needed and actions required to achieve the desired goals.
They mentor and motivate the project team, communicate with stakeholders, and troubleshoot any obstacles the project encounters.
You can read more about the role of a project manager
, and the skills required for effective project management in our article, “What does a Project Manager do?”
What is the best way to manage a project?
There are so many different approaches to managing projects. The method you use will depend on your working environment, the requirements of your project, and what you need to achieve.
With so many varied project methodologies available, most project managers choose to train and apply more than one method to their project work.
Popular project management methodologies include:
- Project Management Institute (PMI)® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)
- PRINCE2® Project Management
- Agile Project Management (including Scrum)
- Lean Process Improvement
Our article, Project Management Methodologies Explained
gives you a more detailed look at the different methodologies available and the kind of projects they benefit.
How to Become a Project Manager
You may already be an informal project manager without realising it!
Many of us manage projects on a daily basis. However, to solidify your skills and acquire a trustworthy structure for managing projects, we recommend training.
Step 1: Choose the Right Project Management Course for Your Needs
As with project management methodologies, choosing the right training for your career is a very personal choice.
Why not take a look through our PDF Guide to Project Management to get an idea of what courses meet your needs?
Step 2: Attend Training and Achieve Certification
Gain project management skills and a confident understanding of the project management framework you choose to learn about.
If you’re attending a certified course, you’ll either have assessment work or a study period following training.
Step 3: Put Your New Skills into Action
Following training, our number 1 tip is to begin using your newly acquired skills and knowledge as soon as possible.
If there are no active projects in your work environment, why not apply the techniques to a project in your personal life?
Step 4: Keep Learning!
Top project managers never stop learning. They are continually reading new articles, attending conferences and seminars, and expanding their abilities with further training and certification.
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