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What Is Project Management?: A Beginner’s Guide

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Project Management
Projects are everywhere. More like, every initiative in an organization is figuratively a project. This means, there are far more people handling projects than those with the mere title of  “project manager”. Besides, our experts always say that project management skills are crucial for all – regardless of whether it is your role or not. So, in this guide, we’ll break down the basics of project management for you!

Find answers to: What is project management? What is its significance? What are the different methods and areas in it? And more. 

Whether you are new to project management, want more factual knowledge about it, or are looking to improve your present skills, this article will lay the groundwork for a successful journey.

What is a Project?

A project is an effort that includes finishing many activities decided or planned to meet the project’s goals and objectives within a fixed timeframe and budget. If every objective meets within the predetermined parameters of budget and time, we consider the project successful.

This description makes it clear how necessary a project is for most enterprises and other types of organizations, making it necessary to develop a project management process. The most important things in building a successful project include Schedule, Cost, and Quality.

Schedule: Scheduling is crucial to identify how each task or work the team will carry out and in what timeline.

Cost: Costs help in figuring out how the team will utilize resources and manage the finances brought into the project.

Quality: It is essential to keep a check and make sure that the project management deliverables and the process meet the desired quality standards.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the process of converting an idea into a functioning product or service through efficient planning and execution. As we mentioned earlier, any initiative could be a project. Therefore, guiding it to success while keeping the objectives, resources, and challenges in mind amounts to “project management”.

Project management is crucial to prepare a perfect project plan, for smooth execution, tracking, and completion of the projects with your team members. It is used in sectors such as engineering, construction, IT, etc. Such sectors have a complicated set of elements that need to be put together in a specific order to make a working product. Therefore, a thorough knowledge of project management principles and skills is required to achieve those goals.

No matter what industry it is, with the help of proper project management methodologies and tools, it gets easier to accomplish the project’s aims and objectives effectively. Having a good knowledge of its fundamentals helps in executing a project with ease. 

Now that we’ve understood what is project management, let’s find out the history of it in the following section.

Project Management History

Project Management was identified roughly in the 1950s. Critical Path Method, work breakdown structure, and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) formed the foundation of project management tools and techniques.

However, in 1896, Karol Adamiecki created a harmonogram, a tool for organizing tasks. Inspired by this creation, Henry Gantt developed the Gantt Chart in the year 1910, which is an important tool used in project management to date.

Although tools existed for managing tasks, there was still a gap in the knowledge about the process that must be followed.  Therefore, in the 1980s, PMI, or the Project Management Institute made efforts to standardize practices, processes, and approaches in project management.  It launched the PMP certification in 1984, followed by the release of PMBOK – the Project Management Body of Knowledge in 1996.  This book included all the fundamentals of project management and henceforth became the most reliable book for project professionals across the globe.

PMI was initially founded to provide a platform where all project professionals could come together and discuss the problems, solutions, and new initiatives in the field. At this time, only 10-15% of its efforts were concentrated on standardizing practices. However, after the launch of the PMP certification and PMBOK – PMI made history in project management.

PMP earned the ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2007. Now, it is the global standard for project management, and it is constantly updated to reflect the demands of the industry.

Why is Project Management Important?

Project management helps the organization in many ways to function smoothly and efficiently. Properly following the techniques, allows you to create a plan and manage the project so that it becomes easy for you to achieve the desired objectives and output within time and budget. The difference effective Project Management brings to any organization are:

  • Communication: It improves internal communication among team members and any others involved or interested in the project. Proper communication helps to eliminate work-related difficulties while increasing productivity and transparency.
  • Efficiency: Project management is critical for efficiently organizing work, budgets, and time schedules to ensure that the project operates smoothly and without interruption.
  • Customer Satisfaction: It ensures improving the customer’s satisfaction by providing them with quality products or services on time and within budget. It even builds trust among the customers or end users.
  • Save Time and Money: It helps to save time and money. A greater grasp of project management helps you build better plans and ensures that all activities are performed on time and within budget, allowing you to minimize delays and project overspending while also ensuring project success.
  • Decision Making: It allows for better tracking of the project’s progress. This gives you a clear understanding of where your project is lacking or progressing well, which helps you identify solutions to such difficulties and so make better business decisions.

What are the Main Areas and Processes in Project Management 

In traditional project management, there is a standard process of project management. This process shows “stages” as a part of a project lifecycle. This lifecycle is seen in most project management standards and is followed almost universally. The set of steps below used to be present in the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide (later removed to be more flexible and not prescriptive) and it is still a part of the Prince2 framework. 

  1. Initiating: Here you must define the project’s objectives, determine who will participate, as well as secure approval for the endeavor.

  2. Planning: This process group is in charge of conducting thorough project planning before proceeding to the execution phase. You need to design precise milestones and develop a course of action to achieve them.

  3. Executing: This process group is responsible for carrying out the majority of the project’s activities. At this stage, you will implement the roadmap decided in the planning process. Moreover, if necessary, you must update the stakeholder details mapped in the initiation phase.

  4. Monitoring and Controlling: At this stage, team members assess their progress toward meeting the project’s goals and timelines. The monitoring and controlling process group serves as a bridge between the other process groups, allowing for communication and progress toward the goals.

  5. Closing: Once the project’s objectives have been completed, it’s time to make the final touches. The project manager is normally in control of this. It includes finishing the project, assessing its success, and filing any documentation.

What are the Types of Project Management

There is no one project management approach. Each project has its own requirements and setbacks. Thus, we must tailor the approaches to incorporate the type of project, team members, organizational culture, and more. Below are a few methods of project management. You can use them as isolated methods or create your own new mix!

1. Waterfall Project Management

In Waterfall Project Management, the team must finish each task before beginning the next one. Steps are linear, and progress moves in a single direction—like a cascade. As a result, this style of project management relies heavily on task sequences and schedules. Once the team completes minor duties, the larger duties begin. The team uses this method for massive projects, where iterative executions like agile aren’t possible.

2. Agile Project Management

The computer software industry was among the first to adopt this idea. Agile project management is an iterative approach centered on the ongoing monitoring and enhancement of deliverables. Its foundation comes from the 12 essential principles of the Agile Manifesto. It says that delivering value to customers, fostering team dynamics, as well as adjusting to changing business conditions lead to high-quality deliverables.

Agile project management does not work in a step-by-step, sequential fashion. Instead, different team members inside an organization complete the project’s phases concurrently. Errors can be found and fixed with this method without needing to start the process from scratch.

The agile way of working has many different frameworks. We’ll look at the Kanban project management and scrum project management approaches below.

  • Kanban Project Management

Kanban is an agile technique that prioritizes activities based on customer demands and promotes visualizing work while reducing work in progress. Additionally, it promotes better workflow efficiency. Kanban boards help monitor the status of workflows and give team members and other relevant stakeholders transparency. It is simple to use and has a feature of visual representation to manage projects and increase its efficiency.

  • Scrum Project Management

Scrum is a strategy that assists team members and delivers results in tiny chunks. It has work planned out in Sprints. A Sprint is a short, and flexible period that usually lasts for four weeks. At the beginning of each sprint, the team selects the tasks out of a list called the product backlog to finish the tasks during that sprint. Scrum teams huddle daily in a quick “Standup” meeting to discuss the progress and challenges and make plans and adjustments on how to tackle certain situations.  Finally, at the end of the sprint, the teams release the planned deliverables and continue with the process. 

Related Read: Agile Vs Scrum

3. Lean Project Management

The main goal of Lean is to minimize “waste” in the form of inefficiencies and overspending. Creating more value for customers while using fewer resources is the fundamental goal. The objective of lean project management is comparable to the lean enterprise production principle. As per its principles, we will only employ resources that directly aid in the successful completion of the project.

4. Six Sigma 

Six Sigma is a method that helps organizations optimize their efficiency and lessen the number of defects. In 1980, Motorola created it, and now various companies and organizations use it. The method is supposed to be so streamlined that errors cannot occur more frequently than 3.4 times out of every million possibilities. It helps businesses achieve high quality in their products and services.

5. Critical Path Method

The Critical Path Method is a technique that involves identifying the sequence of crucial tasks that directly affect the project duration. Furthermore, it involves a detailed analysis of tasks, durations, dependencies, and deadlines, to calculate the longest path of planned activities to the end of the project.

6. Prince2 

It is an organized approach to project management that breaks tasks down into doable stages. With an emphasis on product-based planning and business justification, it stresses initiating, managing, and concluding projects in a uniform, standardized manner. Prince2 is a standard that is popular mainly in the UK and some European countries. We see it as a “prescriptive” approach to project management that works best in organizations that work solely in Prince2 environments.

ProThoughts and Project Management

ProThoughts has had a long journey in the project management field. Since our inspection 10 years ago with a commitment to excellence, we have grown from the bustling Mumbai city to imparting project management knowledge to 43+ countries.

Our platform is constantly evolving to meet all the needs of the project management community. Whether aspirants, practitioners, or experts in it – ProThoughts is for everyone! Our leaders and experts actively contribute to the community to foster the betterment of practices. Mr. Ashish Sadekar, our founder, and Mr. Saurabh Parikh, our co-founder are some of the most vocal minds in this niche. 

We started with just the PMP certification in 2014. Since then, we have grown to many more project management courses and certifications. From Microsoft Project Course to PgMP, we offer something for every level! When PMI recently launched the Disciplined Agile Certifications, we were one of the first ones to offer the line of certifications. Now, we have our eyes set on our next big line of certifications – Six Sigma!

At ProThoughts, our team is bubbling with all things project management. Be it tools, comprehensive studies, videos, blogs, webinars, and of course project management training – we do it all! We will continue building this domain for years to come.

Conclusion

In conclusion, project management is a crucial and unavoidable practice today. It is the key driver to the project and business success. However, effective project management comes from equally arduous upskilling! When are you upgrading your project management knowledge?

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