What is project management?
Managing a project is certainly not always an easy task. You have to plan resources, meet deadlines, coordinate different tasks and keep the right balance between all the activities of the different project members. And most of the time, this also has to be done within a certain budget.
Project-based work therefore requires good planning and excellent project management. Who has what role? How do you share and discuss important project data and results? And how do you coordinate activities so that every project employee gets the best out of them? The answer to these questions is good project management. In this article, we explain what project management is, what it entails and how to apply it. Use it to your advantage and make sure your next project is a resounding success!
Good project management is about finding the perfect balance between the interests of different stakeholders, resources, deliverables and dependencies
What is project management?
Project management (sometimes also referred to as project administration) is the systematic implementation and management of one or more projects. It means that you structurally manage a project from start to finish. This involves several pillars, that focus on:
- Time. What is the intended duration of the project? And when must what be realised?
- Costs. How do you acquire and use the available capital? What is and is not possible within the available budget?
- Scope. What is the scope of the project? What innovations or changes will the project produce? And which parts of the organisation does the project affect?
- Quality of the project. How do you ensure that everything goes according to plan and the set quality requirements? And how do you ensure the project delivers the intended result?
Project management often goes hand in hand with task management. You divide projects into smaller, manageable pieces (tasks, activities or milestones). These sub-tasks are arranged according to priority on a timeline, in which the tasks with the highest priority are ideally dealt with first. With timesheets, you can keep track of exactly how long someone is working on a particular task or project component.
Good project management is about finding the perfect balance between the interests of different stakeholders (customers, partners, team members, directors), resources (the means you need to carry out the project), deliverables (the results and products you produce) and dependencies (relationships between tasks).
The phases of project management
The project management process can be divided into a number of phases. Usually, there are the components as listed below.
1. Initiating and starting the project
Project management begins with an exploratory phase. The project manager evaluates the idea and defines what the project team must achieve and realise. Does it fit with our values and expertise? Can we carry it out? And will the project deliver added value? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the project team can confer with the stakeholders to create a project plan and determine the scope and the project budget.
2. The project planning
The start-up phase is followed by project planning. You determine the goals and estimate the costs, while also defining the most important deliverables. A communication protocol describes how project staff communicate with each other and the various stakeholders. The project manager registers all tasks and assigns work and deadlines to all involved parties.
3. The implementation phase
After making a good start and planning the project, it is time to set the execution in motion. This is often the moment when a project unfolds and becomes visible to the outside world. The project manager organises his project team, puts the right people in the right places and allocates the right resources to all team members.
4. Control and monitoring
The control and monitoring phase does not follow after the implementation, but runs more or less parallel to it. Control and monitoring are mainly about checking progress and monitoring long-term goals. Are deadlines being met consistently? Are there no budget overruns? And is the timeline still correct? Schedule enough meetings to ensure that the project team stays on track.
5. Closure and aftercare
Have your objectives been achieved and is the project officially over? Then it is a good idea to pay some extra attention to the aftercare in the form of a thorough project evaluation. What went well and according to plan? What could have been better? And what can you do to ensure that future projects run even better? Proper evaluation gives you an even stronger basis for managing future projects.
The roles in project management
Project management is certainly not a one-man show. It involves several people who all play their own role.
The project manager is the spider in the web. He or she delegates tasks and assignments and is responsible for both the strategic planning and the execution of the project. It is therefore the person who keeps an overview of all the individual project components and the total scope. A good project manager is an excellent communicator, planner, problem solver and negotiator.
The project sponsor is usually the most important decision-maker within the project landscape. It is the client and owner of the business case, i.e. the man or woman from the client organisation who has the main responsibility for the success of a project.
These are the employees with specialist expertise who ‘make the difference’ during a project. They are experts in certain project components and are responsible for the completion and delivery of the project. Examples of team members are, depending on the industry and the project content, developers, designers, contractors, engineers or editors.
The active stakeholder is someone who liaises between the project team and the client. He or she has an overall view and acts as a bridge builder.
The customer is usually the organisation that pays for the project or the service that results from a project. He is not directly responsible for the project management, but does of course influence the end result, usually via a product owner.
The benefits of project management
Project management has various practical and process-related advantages. It creates order and clarity. By clearly mapping out and visualising project tasks, you avoid forgetting or skipping important project steps. By outlining a clear plan of your project, including all tasks and a clear timeline, and then adding deadlines, task owners and other essential details, you turn what could easily become a chaotic process into an efficient process.
By defining clear roles and tasks, project management also ensures that the workload is effectively distributed across your team. No one gets more than they can handle, while you make maximum use of the available resources. Well-defined goals also improve the effectiveness of a project team. Good for quality, while also reducing the risk of someone wasting energy on the wrong tasks or objectives.
Because project management is based on a structured working method, it also provides points of departure and learning opportunities for the future. You learn from both successes and failures. Knowledge and experience that you can use to set up and carry out the next project even better!
Project management becomes easier with the right tools
Thanks to the digital revolution, it is now easier than ever to get to grips with project management using the right tools. They provide a centralised collaboration environment, accessible to both project staff and stakeholders, where all essential information and documents come together. The right planning tools also make it easy to plan tasks and activities and pour them into a clear timeline. This way, project management becomes a structured activity that lifts your projects and processes to a higher level!
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