Whether you are organizing a training session for your colleagues or planning to construct a huge engineering plan, project management will help you achieve what you need to do.
Project management is the way we apply knowledge and processes to work in order to complete that work in the smoothest way possible. Ultimately, we are using tools, methods, skills, techniques and the experience of the team to achieve the objectives set for the project.
Projects have a clear goal, which means we can plan how to get there and work through a structured plan to ensure that the project’s goals are achieved.
Listen now to this featured Podcast about project management techniques.
So where did the profession start? Many of the project management approaches in use today evolved from informal practices: after all, people have always needed to get things done, even if they didn’t call them projects or have the job title of project manager.
Up until the early 20th century, projects were normally delivered by the creative leader responsible for seeing through the work, like an architect or engineer.
The change came in the mid-20th century when project management emerged as a distinct discipline as management and engineering principles came together to standardize the way projects were run. The importance of project management as a way to get repeatable results had been recognized.
Organizations created their own methods, using elements from existing management practice and project management tools like the Gantt chart which evolved from the work of Henry Gantt.
Over time, scheduling models, estimating practices and budget management techniques came together to inform the project management discipline. In 1969, a group of individuals came together to form the Project Management Institute the USA and project management has gone from strength to strength ever since.
The importance of project management is clear. Studies show that carrying out work in a structured way leads to a better result, and you can probably see how that works from your own experience. Strong project management delivers better quality outputs, helps you use the expertise of the team in a more efficient way and meet the needs of a variety of different stakeholders.
It’s not easy…but project management processes, tools and techniques help you get where you want to be with the least amount of friction. Experienced project managers know that while you can always bend (or even break) the rules, a good understanding of project management best practices will help you get better results with less conflict.
There are 5 project management process groups. You may also hear these referred to as the 5 stages of project management. Every team guides their work through these project management steps, although the actual tasks involved may look a little different depending on the methodologies used.
Project management starts long before anyone gets their hands on doing any ‘real’ work. There is a lot of planning, discussion, debate and effort that goes into eliciting project requirements and making sure the project team can deliver the organization’s vision.
Projects are different from the day-to-day operations of your business because they deliver something unique and with a finite end. Even if the deliverable created by the project goes on to be used for many years, the project effort to deliver it stops once the deliverable is created.
Projects therefore need a different management approach to business-as-usual work; one that allows a multidisciplinary team to come together for a finite period of time to work on a shared objective. There are many project management methodologies, frameworks and approaches that can be used to do that.
All methodologies share similar concepts and objectives of project management. Someone decides to do something, an individual or team works out how that work should be done, then the work is done and the project is closed.
The exact tools, techniques and project management life cycle phases differ depending on the exact methodology in use.
Below are some common project management methods.
Project managers are people who lead projects. They are experienced in their industry and hold a range of internationally-recognized project management certifications including the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
Project leaders are people who follow common project management principles to successfully deliver the work in conjunction with a team.
Project managers lead, manage and control the work by preparing a project management plan and then steering the team to enable them to meet the project’s goals in a structured way. They pilot a project through the life cycle, drawing on project management processes across five areas: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling and closing.
Project management techniques include managing risks, issues and changes, ensuring good communication exists with stakeholders, managing the budget and liaising with suppliers, as well as leading the project delivery team and keeping quality top of mind for the team. They will also prepare and maintain the project management and project schedule to help keep the work on track.
Project managers work across all industries and professions. The importance of project management skills remains the same, regardless of the discipline. While it might be difficult for a digital project manager to suddenly pick up managing a large oil and gas project, the core project management process groups and skills remain the same.
You can change industry, but many people choose one industry to make their project management career in so they can develop deep subject matter knowledge in that field.
Effective project managers need a wide range of technical and professional skills. Here are some core characteristics of successful project managers.
There is always something you can do better, and organizations constantly strive to improve project management maturity. You can maintain good project management by developing a learning culture. Look at the process for lessons learned or retrospectives and actively implement what comes out of those discussions.
What processes can you improve? How can you adapt your methodology to be even more effective? The answers to these questions will help improve project management performance and give your projects every chance of success.
What are you going to learn today with our range of project management podcast interviews?
Project managers and leaders actually make things happen. We're the drivers behind the plan. While business journalists love to go on and on about the entrepreneurial CEOs and their breakthrough ideas, the fact is that a very smart project team led by a project manager was the true impetus behind the actual delivery or execution of those clever ideas and that is a key distinction that gets overlooked a lot of times. People just see the cool, shiny ideas but they miss the whole hardworking, sweaty backend of innovation kind of thing, the hard work that actually makes the actual product at the end of the day.
Project managment is a hugely rewarding job, with plenty of job prospects and a positive outlook for the future. As project managers, we have the opportunity to use best practice tools and techniques to shape our environments and make a real impact through our projects.
Project management is the way organizations deliver their strategic plans, big and small. Project management is a growing and vibrant business area, with plenty to learn and a wide variety of areas where you can specialize if you want to. We'd love to part of your journey!