Project management uses specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people and/or organizations.
Developing software to improve business processes, constructing a building, relief efforts after a natural disaster, expanding sales into a new market… all of these are examples of projects.
Thus, a project is a temporary effort, lasting more or less over time, to create value through a product, service, or outcome.
Furthermore, each project is unique and differs from an organization’s routine operations.
What is project management, and where does it come from?
Project management can be defined as the discipline of applying specific processes and principles to initiate, plan, execute, and manage how new initiatives or changes are implemented within an organization.
Project management is different from regular task management because it involves creating new work packages and activities to achieve agreed-upon goals and objectives.
Throughout human history, project management has always been practiced informally. Still, it began to emerge as a distinct profession in the mid-20th century, thanks to a group of professionals from the aerospace, engineering, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries.
Motivated by the need to address the planning and resource issues associated with increasingly complex projects, they met to define and standardize tools for a new profession…
… Thus, in 1969, the Project Management Institute, or PMI, the world authority on project management, was born.
Since then, project management has become a specialized area of business, and projects, in general, have increasingly become the driving force behind the way work gets done.
It is now widely recognized that a basic understanding of project management can provide value to people in various roles across a wide range of activities.
Structure of project management
The key components of project management are:
- Time: the expected duration of the job.
- Cost: The budget allocated for the work.
- Scope: what innovations or changes will be provided by the project.
- Quality: the standard of the project outcome.
While there are a variety of methodologies and approaches to managing a project, most follow these steps:
- Project Initiation: the project manager defines what the project will achieve and accomplish, working with sponsors and stakeholders to agree on the results.
- Planning: the project manager records all activities, assigns deadlines for each, and establishes relationships and dependencies.
- Execution: the project manager assembles the project team, collects and allocates available resources and budgets for specific tasks.
- Monitoring: the project manager oversees the progress of project work and updates project plans to reflect actual performance.
- Closure: The project manager ensures that the outputs provided by the project are accepted by the company and releases the project team.
Roles and responsibilities in project management
Project management is recognized as a distinct business function within an organization, and project managers have a specific role and responsibilities in accomplishing the goals of their projects.
The project manager will define and execute the project, lead the team, and decide how to approach the work based on several factors, including the type of project, the needs of the company, and the experience of colleagues working on the project.
As project managers are responsible for delivering the projects they work on, they need a wide range of skills, including good verbal and written communication, leadership, planning skills, problem and conflict resolution, time management, and negotiation.
But project managers are not the only players in project management: the project team and other stakeholders also play an essential part.
The project manager indeed coordinates the project team. Still, a project would be impossible to complete without people who can work professionally on their tasks and who believe in the goals to be achieved.
Project management also involves other individuals and, in some cases, even other organizations whose interests are related to the project and its outcomes.
So, why is project management so important? Because nothing is ever done by accident and without first creating a plan by following the proper processes.
Therefore, project management is the action that helps and enables you to create those expected goals.