Project Management: 4 basic principles you need to know
So you here wondering what project management is. Sounds easy, right? List some tasks, allocate responsibilities: done. Well, actually there’s much more that you need to know, but don’t worry, that’s what we are here for!
Let’s start by answering:
What is Project Management?
“Project Management is the art of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing a project, by controlling the resources needed to achieve a specific goal”
So, now that you know what project management is, in this post we’ll go through some of its basic principles:
- What is a project and why is it important to manage it
- The 5 stages of Project Management
- Two methods of Project Management (agile and traditional)
- Defining your project complexity and why it is important
1. WHAT IS A PROJECT AND WHY DO I NEED TO MANAGE IT?
According to the PMI (Project Management Institute) a project is a “temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end and it must be used to create a unique product, service or result”. This means that every project has a specific goal that needs to be accomplished at a specific time, so it cannot go on indefinitely.
The specific objective or goal of the project can be accomplished by fulfilling some requirements that are defined at the beginning of the project. These requirements must be aligned with the deliverables of the project (tangible products that come out as a result of a requirement).
At the same time, these requirements imply some interdependent tasks that need to be performed by people at specific times.
So, wait a minute: a project has goals, time, requirements, deliverables, tasks and people. How can we control all of this?
That’s where Project Management gets handy. Without a proper management of resources it’s impossible to understand and align everything that is involved in a project in order to accomplish the final goal. Project management is about aligning the available resources to meet the projects objectives.
2. THE 5 STAGES OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT
- Initiating: also known as “Definition” is the first step on every project management process. In this stage, we define the Project: goals, SMART objectives, requirements, deliverables, available resources and delivery date.
- Planning: in this stage we define all project activities that need to be performed and the potential risks associated to each one. Risks should also be effectively planned, in order to properly mitigate any issues that may arise in the future. With this in mind, we can then allocate the resources needed in terms of money, physical assets, people, software, etc. to close the project successfully.
- Executing: once we know what the tasks are and who’s responsible of each one, every team member starts working on his/her own tasks, controlling the amount of time and resources he/her uses so everything comes out as planned. At this stage, it is really important to be aware that some tasks depend on other ones, so if a task goes behind, the whole project could be affected.
- Monitoring: in this stage we’ll check the project’s progress, to see if everything is coming out as planned. Any distortion of the plan, as small as it can seem, can have a huge impact on the project outcome, so good monitoring helps us identify potential issues so we can timely take action and decrease the effect on the result of the whole project.
- Closing: as we said, every project has a due date. This means that a project can’t go on forever. The closing stage allows us to finish a project, deliver the final outcomes, and measure if it was profitable or not.