What is Project Management?
Projects, especially digital projects, often involve nonlinear processes with fluid start and, oftentime, concrete end dates. They often involve unforeseeable risks and changes are bound to occur throughout the project lifespan.
Project management is the activity of overseeing and managing the entire project process through resource management, workflow enforcement, budget monitoring, and consistent and clear communications. The role of a project manager t is crucial for project success, helping to move the project along the fastest and most affordable route, while foreseeing and mitigating challenges along the way.
Stages of Project Management
The project management life cycle has four main stages that correspond with the project life cycle. These include initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Projects are usually unpredictable and can change rapidly, making the flow between these four stages fluid, interchanging and sometimes even erratic.
The initiating phase involves activities that create the project framework. It answers the "what," "why," and "who" questions of the project. During this phase project managers work closely with stakeholders to define the scope, size, and deadline of the project, all of which will form a Project Initiation Document (PID). This step provides project managers with the criteria and resources needed to proceed to the planning stage.
Based on the PID, project managers figure out the "how" by building detailed plans and timelines. In this step, they create a realistic route towards the project goal, while being mindful of resource or budget limitations. The entire project is broken into smaller tasks, which are assigned to different team members. Project managers need to ensure that the plan satisfies the PID, and all tasks are arranged seamlessly and in alignment with the project goal and timeline.
Very few projects follow these plans in a definitive manner, with unpredictable occurrences and additions to the project, whether they are good or bad, are likely to occur. Therefore, the planning stage also requires a change management plan to proactively prepare for any changes that are likely to arise. A risk management plan may also be drafted during this stage.
During this stage the project is launched and the team performs their assigned tasks according to the project plan. Project managers oversee the entire project progress and routinely communicate with team members and stakeholders to promptly troubleshoot and eliminate any challenges that may arise.
While the project is in progress, the project manager also monitors the work progress and product quality compared to the PID. They also supervise the scope of the project, ensuring the team stays on track with time frames, budgets, and final product deliverables. If anything is veering off track, the project manager leads the project back in the right direction. This phase requires constant monitoring and controlling to produce the final end product.
When all the planned tasks have been completed and the product has been finalized and delivered to the client, the team can begin closing out the project. This usually involves preparing a final report or training documents. All legal contracts and budgets also need to be formally closed, and all documentation of the project needs to be organized and archived for future reference.
It is highly recommended to conduct an internal and external debrief during this time. External debriefs could include client meetings, feedback questionnaires, or testimonial requests. Internal debriefs often involve brainstorming what when right with the project and identifying areas of improvement. This provides an opportunity to grow and improve internal processes.
Why is Project Management Necessary?
A project can be compared to an engine with moving parts. Each element works at a different pace, each with its own unique function in the success of the whole. Project management views the engine, or project, in its entirety to ensure all of the pieces move coherently and seamlessly to reach a mutual end goal. There are many benefits of including project management in your business operations, which include the following:
- Clear Focused & Objectives
- Maximized Resources
- Quality Control
A project manager works to align the project scope and goals with business objectives and resources, helping to maintain a clear and focused strategy.
Effective project management provides clear and detailed instruction for each team member, eliminating guesswork and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the team.
A project plan ensures the right job is assigned to the right person at the right time, therefore increasing team productivity and quality of work. Furthermore, project managers strictly follow project budgets, minimizing the chance for financial loss.
A descriptive project plan worlds to connect team members with differing levels of skill and expertise. Working cohesively together towards a common goal is a powerful motivator for most teams, helping to ensure workflows are followed and maintained.
Project managers oversee the entire project life cycle and control the quality of work during the entire process. They constantly monitor product quality in a proactive manner, to avoid encountering unforeseen challenges at the end of the project.
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