Table of Contents
What Is Project Management?
We encounter projects everywhere: house cleaning, garden party, relocation, or a wedding – depending on the complexity, we sometimes have to organize and coordinate more, sometimes less. And now let’s imagine putting on a festival for several thousand people or building a skyscraper. Phew!
“A little organization” is no longer enough here because a failure can also have serious (financial) consequences. Organizing the whole project is extremely important. In this context, the term project management comes into play.
The following article will show you the essential topics from this broad area in a compact project management guide.
The Nine Areas of Project Management
But take it slow. As already briefly mentioned, the tasks in project management go quite far. For this reason, the Project Management Institute has divided the term into nine sub-disciplines. It is an extensive topic, from the project management basics to the details.
This sub-area is primarily about defining suitable processes necessary for good coordination and integration of the project. Specifically, one deals with the project plan development and implementation and possible changes in this area.
“Is the project going in the right direction?” This is the central question in this sub-discipline. Accordingly, the performance progress must be consistently checked and controlled. This includes project initiation, definition, verification, and monitoring of performance.
Time – is always an essential factor. Especially when it’s tight, time management must keep an eye on the time, i.e., all-time restrictions and deadlines of the project. This area belongs to the schedule, the determination of process sequences, process duration estimation, schedule development, and monitoring. Schedule templates are helpful here, as they save time, especially in recurring projects.
Of course, finances also play an essential role in a large project, and these resources should be used as efficiently as possible. Maximum effectiveness with minimum effort – that is the goal. Accordingly, resources must be planned, costs estimated, the budget distributed, and finally, the use of financial resources in project management must be monitored.
In projects, there is usually a customer with specific requirements for his product. And even if it doesn’t, a house shouldn’t crack after ten years. There are various quality requirements that quality management must take care of, and it deals with quality planning, assurance, and control.
Human Resources Management
In addition to time resources, capacity planning in project management also deals with human resources – i.e., the employees.
- Who does which tasks?
- How long does it take him?
- Can he complete the job in the given time and with his existing skills?
- Who should/must he work with?
- Do we have enough staff for the project?
In project organization, personnel acquisition, and team development, personnel management faces these questions.
Team development and the topic of team building are critical points.
This sub-area is about project communication – whether with employees, project managers, or people outside the company. Communication management collects, defines, and disseminates all information related to the project.
A complex project always involves risks. If a delivery is delayed, production is delayed, and deadlines cannot be met, which has further consequences. For this reason, risk management deals with risk identification and assessment and the development of measures to track and assess risks.
One cannot work without specific means. Therefore, procurement management provides all the goods and services required by making preparations for purchasing, obtaining offers, selecting suppliers, and being responsible for drawing up contracts and ensuring fulfillment.
The Five Phases Of a Project
Another essential part of project management basics is the phases that a project goes through. A project can generally be divided into five project management phases with different tasks – the stages are visualized in the project phase model.
At the start of the project (also: preparation ), all the basics of the project are clarified: e.g., framework conditions, content, duration, costs, and effort.
No concrete decisions have yet been made regarding implementation. Primary concrete goals should always be right initially, and an exact formulation of goals is fundamental. The project plan, project profile, project environment analysis, and SWOT analysis are helpful here.
It becomes concrete in the planning. Depending on the nature of the project – own, commissioned, everyday, innovative – the analysis plays an essential role in this phase. Here it is also important to distribute tasks, create a schedule, and decide which project organization – such as the matrix organization – the work will take place. The essential data are noted in the project order.
The implementation then involves the performance of the planning in concrete measures, the processing of the tasks, and the cooperation of the project team.
This is followed by project control in the fourth phase, control. This includes, among other things, the TARGET-ACTUAL comparison, the overview of project progress and status, as well as problem identification. Transparent and regular communication is essential here to evaluate all information and data.
In the end, there is a summary, evaluation, and learning: How did the project go? What went well? What can we do better next time? If necessary, the results can also be compared with similar projects.
Common Project Management Methods
But how exactly do you approach a project like this? In addition to the project management basics, various procedures and methods can be found in practice. If you look at the nine sub-disciplines again, project management is a cross-sectional task. For this reason, methods from different areas are used to help.
Project Management Combines Many Disciplines.
Project management requires a sum of disciplines and tasks from other, specific areas. These include
- Analyze and develop ideas
- Plan and calculate
- Control and steer
- Lead employees and teams
- reporting and documenting
- develop strategies
Roles In Project Management
A project is always teamwork and is, therefore (almost) never carried out by a single person. “Inside” and “outside” projects different roles with different functions taking their place.
- Client/customer: Initiator and supreme decision-making authority
- Project Manager: Expert in planning and organization, has overall responsibility
- Project manager: Head of the project team, coordinates team members and is involved in content
- Project staff: Do technical work
- Stakeholders: people/groups affected by or interested in the project
Necessary Skills In Leadership
People carry out management in the sense of corporate governance. These – often referred to as project managers or project managers – should have specific skills to manage a project optimally. In addition to professional and methodical skills, social and personal skills are required, as in any other management profession :
- Communicative Skills
- problem-solving orientation
- leadership skills
- Entrepreneurial thinking
- critical ability
- willingness to perform
Of course, these skills are not quite enough, and it would help if you also had a project manager.
Success Factors – That Is What Matters.
Berlin Airport BER, Stuttgart 21, Practice shows: that the rate of failed projects should not be underestimated. Since 1994, the Standish Group has examined not only a “failure” rate with its CHAOS Report but also success and failure factors in project management.
Every project should have a clear goal that, when achieved, also has added value for the company. It is also essential that the goal is set from the beginning and, if so, then not changed too often. SMART goals help with a precise formulation.
Definition of Critical Values
Milestones are essential in order not to lose sight of the big goal. Clear deadlines and budgets, for example, help to stay on schedule and counteract obstacles and minimize the risk of an overall project failure.
The support of the company management is necessary for a project. In general, all important people and groups should be behind the project.
In connection with the support of the management, a project needs good infrastructure. Relevant resources, equipment, and premises are required to use the potential of those involved and complete the project.
Of course, many other factors can determine the success or failure of a project. But the most crucial thing is structured management. If this is in place, you can react to problems much more controlled. The risk of failure is minimized. This brings us to another criterion: the human success factor.