What is Project Management?
Project management is the art of starting, organizing, planning, and managing projects. Key features of a project include that it is unique, not a regular process; temporary, with a definite start and completion date; and mission-oriented, initiated with a specific goal to achieve. Examples of projects include the construction of a new hotel in Las Vegas, building a mobile app, or launching a new service or branch of business.
For centuries project management has been practiced informally for everything from the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge to launching multinational offices. In the mid-20th century, project management took on a formal role in the professional world, first as a framework for completing projects, then as an official field of study, and later as a profession. The Project Management Institute (PMI), considered to be the authority in the field of project management, was established in 1969.
There are a variety of methodologies and tools used to complete projects in healthcare, construction, finance, IT, engineering, and many more industries. PMBOK®, Agile, and Waterfall are just a few frameworks and methodologies. Microsoft Project, Asana, and Jira are the most popular project management software programs used to manage workflow and tasks for teams.
What do you do as a project manager?
Managing scope, cost, and time are the critical tasks of the project manager role. The project manager ensures all project tasks close (scope), as scheduled (time), and without exceeding the budget (cost). If the project runs smoothly, and everyone does their part, the project manager’s job may seem easy. On the contrary, if the project is unsuccessful, late, or exceeds budget, the project manager is held responsible.
Typical Project Manager duties include the following:
- Researching concepts to understand project mission and deliverables
- Creating the scope of a project
- Defining a project timeline
- Developing a proposed project budget
- Facilitating meetings between project teams and stakeholders
- Sourcing supplies, materials, and human capital to complete the project
- Identifying and eliminating obstacles and unexpected problems related to the project scope, budget, or timeline
- Monitoring and reporting key performance indicators and analyzing data
- Evaluating quality of work and milestones
- Ensuring project is within budget, schedule, and scope
What are the different project management methodologies?
There are numerous Project Management Methodologies (PMM), and the methodology you use will depend on the dynamics of your team and project. Some methods focus on speed and efficiency, while others focus on checks and balances to cover a broad scope of work. The benefit of using a PMM is having a framework to guide processes and workflow for your team. The following are a few of the most popular project management methodologies.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
Critical Path Method begins by creating a list of each task and outlining a (sometimes overlapping) timeline for each task. Microsoft Project software is a project management software that allows for planning. The Critical Path Method is built into the scheduling engine of Microsoft Project. The challenge with CPM is that there is no flexibility if a task takes longer than expected. If that specific task affects other tasks, you’ll have to plan again. Critical Path Method (CPM) is best when you have a fixed set of tasks and know precisely how much time each task requires to complete it.
The Waterfall model is for software development contexts. It relies on a very rigid structure for outlining projects that leaves no room for error. As a result, this method requires significant pre-planning to ensure all objectives are met. The project is divided into stages, and the team moves to the next stage only after the previous stage has been completed and verified. Some challenge the Waterfall model as it does not leave room for adjustments or returning to an earlier stage later in the process. The Waterfall model is best for projects with a well-defined scope and little risk for uncertainty or unexpected challenges in development.
The actual stages in the flexible and free-flowing Agile development project management model are up for debate. Some models use a four-stage cycle, and others use a six-stage cycle. The Agile model of project management was developed based on the Agile Manifesto, which lists four core principles behind software development that emphasize relationships, functional products, collaboration, and adaptability. When a project team communicates exceptionally well, and the project needs fluidity, Agile is a great option.
As its name suggests, the Hybrid model combines the initial planning and structure of the Waterfall methodology with the flexibility and adaptability of Agile. Projects begin with substantial research, information-gathering, and a planning phase and are completed with an Agile workflow that allows for frequent communication and changes. The Hybrid method is best-suited to structured projects with a strict budget or end date that allow for some flexibility in the steps taken to meet the goal.
Scrum is a flexible project framework for the software development world based on the Agile methodology. The Scrum team works on short development tasks called “sprints,” in which the team has daily stand-up meetings (short 1-2 minute updates by each team member). The challenge with Scrum is keeping track of tasks that apply to all or a few team members. These tasks fall by the wayside if not assigned to a specific team member. Scrum is best for teams in which every single member is highly-disciplined and can manage with their tasks without additional support.
Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods (PRiSM) is a project management framework for use in real estate, construction, engineering, and other industries in which environmental impact is a concern. The project methodology focuses on eliminating ecological waste and negative environmental impact in all forms. For this reason, PRiSM is not suitable for virtual projects, in which environmental waste is not a concern. The PRiSM methodology is best suited to constructing an eco-resort, or similar project, in which all the stakeholders involved are committed to a sustainable approach.
What Are The Five Phases of Project Management?
Five Phases of Project Management via Wikipedia
Regardless of what PMM that you use, you will still go through the same stages of project management. PMI has outlined five phases of project management as defined in their Project Management Body of Knowledge book (PMBOK®), which is considered the industry standard for training in project management. PMI first published PMBOK ® in 1996, and PMI released the sixth edition in 2017. For every project, regardless of the industry or work area, the project management duties usually include the following five stages:
The overall goals of the project are defined, as well as the core focus of the project, and team members are recruited to work on the project. The project manager may also conduct a feasibility study to determine if the scope, cost, and timeline of the project are reasonable before beginning the project. If the feasibility study proves that the plan is not practical, the project may be restructured or abandoned.
When the project manager deems the project feasible, the manager determines and assigns tasks to members of the project. The manager sets the timeline with due dates or milestones for each task leading up to project completion. A sound project plan provides detailed instructions for each team on how to handle challenges or obstacles including whom to contact and when.
In the Execution Phase, each team member begins implementing their tasks. Success in the Execution Phase is a function of the project plan design. With proper planning, the execution phase should take off without much trouble—project stakeholders should be able to obtain what they need to complete their tasks. The project manager assists with initial roadblocks and challenges.
Monitoring and Control
While most projects get off to a good start, the critical phase is Monitoring and Control, when the project manager has to keep everyone motivated, maintain awareness of the project’s progression, and foresee and eliminate any challenges. The project manager must ensure the project stays within the initial scope and budget while tracking key metrics such as spending or delays to ensure that minor problems in one area don’t ultimately hinder the entire project.
The project manager and team deliver or complete the project. The project manager’s job does not end and continues with completing reviews, obtaining feedback from customers, stakeholders, and the project team. The project manager uses this information to determine how processes will improve in future projects. Data analysis, final reporting, and other logistical tasks to complete the project take place at this phase.
Ten Areas of Product Management Knowledge
In addition to the five stages of project management, the PMBOK ® also defines ten knowledge areas in the field of project management. These ten areas cover the range of tasks that the project manager will manage as part of their duties. The ten knowledge areas are:
- Human Resources
- Risk Management
- Stakeholder Management
Which industries use Project Management?
Project management methodology and techniques are useful in any industry. Concepts such as risk management, human resources, and project scope, timeline, and cost are valuable for e-commerce stores as well as individual consultants and freelancers. However, some industries have more project management roles or specialized use of project management techniques.
In recent years, the project management field has grown from project manager positions to Project Management Offices (PMOs, also called Project Management Organizations). PMOs are divisions of a company or organization that focus entirely on managing projects and programs dedicated to a specific purpose. PMOs are common in the healthcare and finance industries.
Project management has its roots in the construction industry. A single construction project has numerous stakeholders including investors, architects, engineers, material suppliers and finally construction workers. Construction project managers liaise with these stakeholders, ensure the project complies with local laws and that all necessary permits are kept up to date, in addition to a variety of other duties.
Project management offices are becoming standard in the healthcare industry. Healthcare organizations are typically composed of multiple groups with distinct research interests or medical specialties. Project management offices are essential in managing the various interests within a group while allowing them to operate independently. Healthcare project managers may also work with a specific department managing tasks like opening a new medical wing or hiring staff.
Government & Military
With the increased globalization of the world, project management in the government and military sector has become essential. At the government level, project management involves coordinating with stakeholders from multiple agencies, including international agencies, to assess risk and manage international task teams.
Specific knowledge areas, such as evaluating risk and cost are directly related to the financial services industry. For example, a financial business manager may assess the feasibility of different investment options. Financial managers can use project management methodology to evaluate portfolios and improve ROI.
Project managers in the IT industry may keep track of documents, licenses, and reports while ensuring projects continue to run smoothly. IT professionals also have the option to earn a specialized project management certification, specific to the field of IT. EC-Council offers the PMITS, a project management certification designed for IT professionals.
Software Developers use project management to define and manage development tasks, sometimes called sprints. Agile is a popular methodology in the computer software industry. As a result, some developers obtain certification in an Agile-based development framework, such as Scrum.
How do you become a project manager?
To become a project manager, you can pursue a degree related to the industry you plan to work in, such as engineering, healthcare, or finance. The more common route to becoming a project manager is to obtain a project manager certification. There are a variety of project management certifications, and the type of certification you pursue depends on your industry.
Project Management Courses
Project Management courses at NYIM prepare you for the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam, considered to be the gold standard certification in project management. An introductory project management course offers the basics of project management, including the knowledge areas and project management stages. The Advanced Project Management Course digs deeper into project management methodology.
Project Management Certification
Project management professionals can earn certification in both the field of project management or individual project management methodologies. The gold-standard of project management certification is PMI’s Project Management Professional or PMP® certification. Learn more about our PMP® certification training.