8 MIN READ
What Is Project Management?
Managing Complex Tasks and People
Project management is the process of organizing the way that changes are implemented efficiently within an organization.
Many businesses achieve their goals by completing projects that contribute to their objectives. Often, projects have a finite length, involve a number of activities and people, and have deadlines and fixed budgets. Project managers plan and monitor these, and take corrective action when appropriate.
The Benefits of Developing Project Management Skills
No matter what your role, you may have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. It takes a great deal of skill to do this well, but the time you invest in building good project management skills can pay off enormously.
You contribute to meeting an organization's objectives by completing projects on time and on budget. This can produce real business results and enhance your reputation. And, when you know how to organize, schedule and delegate tasks, you can also reduce stress for yourself and your team members.
Project Management Approaches
Once you are familiar with the many tools that can help you manage your projects more efficiently, you may want to learn more about the main project management methodologies.
One is PMBOK®, which stands for Project Management Body Of Knowledge. This approach centers on common project management skills, such as budgeting and managing inputs and outputs, and it's commonly used in the U.S.
PRINCE2® stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. This accredited approach is widely used in the U.K. and other English-speaking countries. You use it to, among other things, clarify people's roles, keep lines of communication open, manage project risk, and establish base costs.
Agile Project Management is another popular approach. This often works well for projects in complex, fast-moving environments, because it allows you and your team to respond flexibly to changing needs and requirements.
We explore key tools from these frameworks and others with the resources below.
Project Management Approaches: an Overview
There are many tools, techniques and processes that will help you manage your projects more efficiently. We've listed some of the most popular ones below to get you started.
Project Management Frameworks
When you set up a new project, you need to look at lots of different factors, such as benefits, risks, budget, and objectives. Articles in the Project Management Frameworks section show you how to build the foundation of your project, and look at all angles before getting started. Some useful articles include:
- How to Write a Business Case: You've got a great idea for a new project. Learn how to write a business case, so that you can get approval and funding.
- Risk Impact/Probability Chart: This tool helps you identify the risks in your project, and estimate how likely they are to occur.
- Project Charters: A project charter sets out the purpose of a project and explains what you expect from each member of your team.
You may have to juggle a number of people working on different tasks during a project. Our scheduling articles help you plan how to complete tasks smoothly and on time.
- Action Plans: Use an action plan for small projects, so you don't forget any important steps or tasks.
- Gap Analysis: Gap analysis helps you to identify what you need to do to meet your project's objectives.
- Gantt Charts: Help you schedule medium and large projects, so that you can complete them in the most efficient way.
If you've already managed projects, you know that they can quickly spiral out of control as people add more requirements. This is why being able to manage the scope of a project is such an important skill. In this section, you'll learn how to keep your project tightly focused. These tools will help:
- Business Requirements Analysis: This article shows you how to define exactly what work you must deliver.
- The MoSCoW Method: Agree with stakeholders what will and will not be delivered as part of the project.
- Scope Control: Scope control is an essential project management skill because it stops people making too many changes and additions during your project, which can seriously disrupt the project schedule.
Building Support for Your Projects
Your project may need the backing of many stakeholders, such as your boss, colleagues, the leadership team, clients, or key suppliers. Once you know how to pitch your idea and build support, you can get your project off the ground with the right resources in place. These articles explain how:
- Stakeholder Analysis: Learn how to identify the key people you need to win over, and decide how you'll communicate with them.
- The Responsibility Assignment Matrix: This tool defines who has ultimate responsibility for key tasks.
- Influence Maps: These help you identify the obvious and not-so-obvious influencers on your project.
Projects rely on good communication. Our project communication articles help you do this effectively:
- Project Dashboards: This simple tool allows you to communicate progress quickly and easily.
- Project Milestone Reporting: Keep projects on track by evaluating where you are at significant points.
- Effective Scrum Meetings: Scrum meetings are part of the agile approach to project management, but they're useful in any type of project. They help you to motivate team members, and keep things moving forward.
It takes a great deal of skill to make widescale transformation stick within an organization. Our Change Management articles show you how to overcome common barriers, and work with people to implement new initiatives successfully.
- Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Change: Learn how to address cultural issues that could slow or prevent an upcoming change.
- Kotter's 8-Step Change Model: This framework helps you achieve your change program's objectives.
- Why Change Can Fail: There's a right and a wrong way to implement change. In this article, discover what not to do during a change initiative.
Project Improvement and Review
The Project Improvement and Review articles explain how to analyze your project's progress, so you can continuously improve.
- After Action Review (AAR) Process: Learn how to evaluate your project as it progresses, so that you can make adjustments and improve performance.
- Post-Implementation Review: Use this process to analyze your project's deliverables, and determine whether additional work would deliver even greater benefits.
No matter what your role, it's likely that you will have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. When you know how to juggle multiple tasks, people, deadlines, and responsibilities, you will strengthen your reputation and improve your promotion prospects.
Take time to learn about the various project management frameworks to run a successful project from start to finish. Discover how to schedule people and tasks more effectively, and build support for your ideas so that you get the backing and funding you need to get started. Last, familiarize yourself with change management strategies, so that you can encourage others to overcome their reluctance to change.
This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!