What is project management?
Project management involves planning and organizing a company’s resources to advance a specific task, event or task. It can be a one-time project or an ongoing activity, and the resources managed include personnel, finance, technology and intellectual property.
Project management is often associated with areas of engineering and construction and, more recently, healthcare and information technology (IT), which typically have a complex set of components that need to be completed and assembled in a defined way to create a functional product.
Regardless of the industry, the project manager generally has roughly the same job: helping to define the goals and objectives of the project and determining when the different components of the project should be completed and by whom. They also create quality control checks to ensure that the finished components meet a certain standard.
Key points to remember
- At a very basic level, project management includes planning, launching, executing, monitoring and closing a project.
- There are many types of project management methodologies and techniques, including traditional, cascading, agile and lean.
- Project management is used in all industries and is an important part of the success of construction, engineering and IT companies.
Understanding project management
Generally speaking, the project management process includes the following stages: planning, launching, execution, monitoring and closure.
Different industries have developed project management methodologies or frameworks that are specific to their unique needs.
From start to finish, each project needs a plan that describes how things will take off, how they will be built and how they will end. For example, in architecture, the plan begins with an idea, progresses to the drawings and proceeds to the drafting of the master plan, with thousands of small pieces assembled between each stage. The architect is only one person providing a piece of the puzzle. The project manager puts it all together.
Each project usually has a budget and a schedule. Project management allows everything to go smoothly, on time and on budget. This means that when the planned deadline comes to an end, the project manager can keep all team members working on the project to finish on schedule.
Example of project management
Let’s say that a project manager is responsible for leading a team to develop software products. They begin by identifying the scope of the project. They then assign tasks to the project team, which can include developers, engineers, technical writers, and quality assurance specialists. The project manager creates a schedule and sets deadlines.
Often a project manager uses visual representations of the workflow, such as Gantt charts or PERT charts, to determine which tasks should be performed by which departments. They have established a budget that includes sufficient funds to keep the project within budget, even in the event of unforeseen unforeseen events. The project manager also ensures that the team has the resources necessary to create, test and deploy a software product.
When a large IT company, such as Cisco Systems Inc., acquires smaller companies, a key part of the project manager’s job is to integrate project team members from diverse backgrounds and instill a sense of objective of the group as to the achievement of the final objective. Project managers may have some technical know-how but also have the important task of taking high-level business visions and delivering tangible results on time and on budget.
Types of project management
Many types of project management have been developed to meet the specific needs of certain industries or types of projects. They include:
Waterfall project management
This is similar to traditional project management, but includes the caveat that each task must be completed before the next one begins. The stages are linear and the progression flows in one direction, like a waterfall. For this reason, attention to task sequences and deadlines is very important in this type of project management. Often the size of the team working on the project will increase as the smaller tasks are completed and the larger tasks begin.
Agile project management
The software industry was one of the first to use this methodology. Based on the 12 fundamental principles of the Agile Manifesto, agile project management is an iterative process focused on the continuous monitoring and improvement of deliverables. At its core, high-quality deliverables are the result of creating customer value, team interactions and adapting to current business circumstances.
Agile project management does not follow a sequential step-by-step approach. Instead, the project phases are carried out in parallel with each other by various team members within an organization. This approach can find and correct errors without having to restart the entire procedure.
Lean project management
This methodology aims to avoid waste, both loss of time and resources. The principles of this methodology have been gleaned from Japanese manufacturing practices. The main idea behind them is to create more value for customers with fewer resources.
There are many more methodologies and types of project management than those listed here, but these are among the most common. The type used depends on the preference of the project manager or the company whose project is managed.