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The efficient working of a business is unimaginable without project management as it is a critical component of any organisation. It is a process used to ensure that all project goals and objectives are rightly met. It involves planning, organising, and overseeing the project from start to finish. Whether you are working on a project for your company or a client, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of project management. In this blog post, we will discuss the key concepts you need to know to manage projects effectively!
Project management is the employment of methods, processes, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to agreed criteria. It is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service. Project managers have a wide variety of responsibilities that include but are not limited to developing project plans, acquiring project resources, managing project risks, and monitoring project progress. They must wear many hats and have a wide range of skills to be successful.
Project management is often taken synonymous with program management or portfolio management. Program management is responsible for multiple projects grouped to achieve strategic objectives. Portfolio management is responsible for selecting and prioritising projects that an organisation undertakes.
Project management is a relatively new field, and as such, there is no one universally accepted definition. Project management definition, according to The Project Management Institute (PMI), is “the application of skills, tools, knowledge, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.”
However, project management can be broadly divided into four main phases:
These phases are further divided into a series of project management process groups:
All these project management phases and groups are incomplete without understanding the fundamentals of project management as they all stem from it.
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Project management is a process that can be applied to any type of project, whether it’s developing software, building a house, or planning an event. Fundamentals of project management include every process that takes the project from initiation to completion and make it a success.
Some of the most important project management fundamentals include:
Defining the scope of the project
Whether you want to pursue a career in project management or are already working in the field, it’s essential to have a strong understanding of these concepts. By understanding the project management fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to success. Let’s discuss these fundamentals in detail, which are deemed to be the bedrock of project management.
Understand A Project And Define Its Scope
The first step in project management is to understand what a project is. A project is a temporary endeavour with a defined beginning and end to create a unique product, service, or result.
The project’s objectives are the goals that the project is trying to achieve. Project managers must clearly understand what they’re trying to achieve. It requires defining the project’s objectives and scope.
On the other hand, the project’s scope is a description of what the project includes and excludes. Defining the scope helps project managers to understand the project’s boundaries and makes it easier to create a project plan.
Let’s say you’re planning a new software for food delivery. In this case, the project’s objectives might be to create user-friendly and efficient software. The project’s scope would then include everything necessary to develop the software, such as researching, designing, and coding.
It would also exclude anything that’s not essential to the project, such as creating a marketing campaign for the software. Defining the project’s scope is an integral part of project management because it helps project managers understand what must be done to achieve the project’s objectives.
Create A Comprehensive Project Plan
The project plan is the foundation of your project management system. It should include all aspects of your project, from the initial planning stages to completion. Your project plan should be comprehensive and well-organised to easily track your project’s progress and identify potential problems.
Setting realistic goals and milestones is one of the most critical aspects of your project plan. If you set unrealistic goals, you’ll likely find yourself falling behind schedule and over budget. Likewise, if you put too many milestones, your project will become bogged down in details, and you’ll miss the big picture.
Another important aspect of your project plan is to create a realistic budget. If you don’t adequately budget for your project, you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the funds to keep the project on track.
By creating a comprehensive project plan, you’ll be setting your project up for success from the very beginning. A plan will keep you covered regarding what needs to be done when it should be completed, and how much it will cost.
When starting a project from scratch, the project plan is your bible. It should include everything from the initial planning stages to project completion. Make sure to include milestones, realistic goals, and a detailed budget. A comprehensive project plan will always take your project towards success.
If you’re working on a project already underway, creating a project plan is still important. This will help you to track the project’s progress and identify any potential problems along the way.
Detect And Manage Risks Involved
A project of any size or type involves some risks. A project manager must be aware of all the risks involved in a project and should have a plan to deal with them. He should also constantly monitor the project to identify any new risks that may arise.
Project management is not just about completing the project on time and within budget. It also ensures the project is completed safely and without accidents. A project manager must therefore understand health and safety regulations well.
Detecting risks at the right time and taking corrective action are one of the most essential skills of a project manager. Managing risks entails the project manager employing various project risk management tools and techniques. Some of the popular project management risk control techniques are:
A project manager must be familiar with all these project risk management techniques to manage risks in a project effectively.
One of the risks involved in project management is scope creep. This happens when the project scope is not defined correctly at the start of the project. To avoid scope creep, the project manager must clearly understand the project requirements from the start and should only make changes to the project scope with the approval of all project stakeholders. As the project progresses, new requirements are added to the project, which can increase project costs and timelines.
Track Project Progress
One of the project management fundamentals is tracking project progress. It involves monitoring and recording the project’s progress against its milestones and objectives. It allows project managers to identify any potential issues or delays and take corrective action accordingly.
Some common techniques are used to track project progress, such as Gantt charts and earned value analysis. Tracking progress will also help project managers assess whether the project is on track to meet its goals and objectives. Such information can be used to make necessary adjustments to the project plan.
The Gantt Charts is a project management tool that allows project managers to track their project’s progress in time. It is essentially a bar chart showing each project task’s start and end dates. Gantt charts help identify any potential delays in the project timeline.
Earned value analysis is another technique used to track project progress. This method compares the project’s actual cost and schedule performance against its planned values. Earned value analysis can be used to identify any cost or schedule overruns.
Let’s say you have a project scheduled to last six months. You would create a Gantt chart that shows the project’s start and end date, as well as the dates for each project milestone. The details will be used to track the project’s progress and identify any potential delays.
Understand the Phases of the Project Lifecycle
Project managers use the project lifecycle framework to plan, track, and control their projects. The project lifecycle consists of four phases: initiation, planning, execution, and closure.
In the initiation phase, project managers define the project’s goals and objectives and create a project charter. It is a document that outlines the project’s scope, timeline, and budget.
In the planning phase, project managers develop a project plan. The project plan is a document that outlines the project’s tasks, milestones, and resources.
In the execution phase, project managers carry out the project plan. They track and monitor the project’s progress and change the project plan as needed.
In the closure phase, project managers close the project. They conduct a project review to assess the project’s success and create a report. The project report is a document that summarises the project’s results.
Project management is a complex process, but understanding the project lifecycle is an excellent place to start. By understanding the four phases of the project lifecycle, you can better plan, execute, and track your projects.
When you start a project, for instance, developing new software, you will first need to come up with an idea and project scope. This is the initiation phase. If the project is approved, you will need to develop a project plan including all the milestones. After the project plan is approved, you can start working on the project, which is the execution phase. And finally, when the project is completed, you will need to close the project and conduct a project review.
Communicate Well With Stakeholders
One of the project manager’s most important responsibilities is to keep all project stakeholders informed about the project’s progress. It includes project sponsors, customers, and project team members. By keeping everyone up-to-date on project developments, the project manager can avoid potential problems arising from miscommunication.
The project manager should also develop a good working relationship with all project stakeholders. It will make it easier to get buy-in on project decisions and ensure everyone is working towards the same goal. Stakeholders are more likely to support a project that they feel invested in, so the project manager needs to nurture these relationships.
Now that you know the project management fundamentals, it’s time to put them into practice, so get out there and start managing some projects! And, if you ever need a refresher on these concepts, be sure to come back and check.
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