What is Project Management and why is it important?

We’ve been talking about Entrepreneurship and Tips on how to GROW your Business.

Today we are going to talk about something you might have heard before, Project Management. But what is project management? Do projects really need “management”? Can’t we just do the work and everything will fall into place?

Not really…

Project Management is a really important part of any project. It’s purpose is to make sure the project succeeds with maximum results, less effort, making sure the risks are manageable and that there is a plan for every possible outcome.

A project is something that is contemplated, devised, or planned; it is also something that will solve an existing problem. For example, you might have a client that needs a mobile app to help people to discover what a city has to offer, where to eat, what to visit and how to get from location A to B.

Project management is the process of planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling the development a product.  Is not tied to a especific industrie and usually requires a team were each person has different set of skills. This will allow the project to move from the planning fase to the development and eventually it’s completion.

But is project management really necessary? Let’s see some of its benefits.

Project management can often double the organization’s return by minimizing expenses and maximizing the efficiency. Getting the right resources for the estimated deadline is imperative for the success of any project. There is also a need to calculate risks. In what stage will the project have a higher risk of going south, and what’s the procedure in case that happens? Get more resources involved?

The most important thing in the field of Project Management, is to develop a system that enables the team to plan everything from the beginning to the end, prioritize, get the resources on time, minimize risks, overcome roadblocks and coordinate their work until the final delivery of the project within the estimated time frame and budget.

Four Stages of Project Management

4 Stages of Project Management Initiation Plan Execution Monitor Deliver
4 Stages of Project Management

The Initiation

The initiation phase marks the beginning of the new project. This is where the person with the idea or the organization identifies the problem that needs to be solved, all the objectives, the scope, the purpose and the deliverables.
If it’s an organization, a project manager with the right qualifications and experience is allocated, the budget and time frame is set, but in the case of a Startup it might be a little different. Usually, the budget does not allow for a project manager to be hired so everything should be done by the founders.

Want to know if you have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur? Check out this post: Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

After all the goals, budget, time frame and the management team are set, it’s time to move on to the second phase.

The Plan

The planning phase is where the project manager and the team begin to create the strategies that will lead the project from the start to its conclusion. It should always be a written document that contains all the information needed regarding the development of the project. It should be easy for anyone involved to access a specific piece of information at any time.

For example, if the project is a website, the developers should have access to every task and deadline. For clients and shareholders the most important piece of information is if the deliverables are on schedule and within the estimated budget.

There should be a resource plan that contains all the resources the team will need, all the tools, software and inventory, as well as a schedule to determine how much of each resource will be needed.

The financial plan will determine how much each resource will cost, including salaries, software and everything specified in the resource plan. It should provide a comparison between the project’s budget and its actual cost.

The quality plan should allow the team to test every derivable’s quality, making sure it’s meeting the expectations. Quality control makes sure the project stays on track and every member are working on the right tasks. If a derivable fails the quality control, it’s usually better to take some time to fix what’s wrong or missing, then move on to the next task come back at the end and fix everything. That’s why breaking a project into smaller deliverables and getting feedback, it’s so important. In software development we call it Continuous Delivery Continuous Integration (CDCI).

The risk plan should try to predict the project’s difficulties and where it’s more likely to encounter issues. Predicting any possible roadblocks will increase the team’s awareness of possible problems, setting strategies and increase the team’s chances of overcoming the difficulties.

These are the most important aspects of the planning phase. Plan the resources, budget and time; plan how much capital will be allocated to each resource; quality control should be done regularly, and if possible, getting client feedback; try to predict deficits; develop strategies and making sure every person involved is getting all the information they need.

The Execution

The execution phase is where the actual project starts. This is where teams take a look at the plan and start working on developing the product accordingly. This is the most time-consuming phase.

During the execution phase, the project manager should have some strategies in place.

  • Time Management Allocating time to each task with task priority in mind, checking if tasks are being finished on time and if needed, extend the time on certain tasks proved to be more difficult to finish than it was anticipated.
  • Cost Management – Keeping track of all expenses can be done easily with an app or an excel sheet.
  • Quality Management – Just like planned, checking the product’s quality should be done continuously and not just at the end of the project. This will save a lot of time, effort and probably even the project itself.
  • Requirements Management – It’s very rare to the planning phase to be perfect. There’s always something unpredictable happening. Sometimes it’s only possible to determine the requirements as the project unfolds, other times the client changes the requirements; this requires to restrategise and the project manager should document all the changes, the reasons and what impact will those changes have on the final product.
  • Risk Management – Listing risks for the most to least critical is very important, it helps avoid unnecessary extra time to complete tasks, save resources and overall success of the project. Just like in the requirements management, the risk management can’t be 100% predicted in the planning phase.
  • Communication Management –  The project manager should give key information to every person involved to keep them updated throughout the project. Not every person needs to know everything about the project and it’s the project manager job to make sure every person gets the information they need.

At the end of the execution phase comes the project review. If the quality management is done correctly throughout the project, everything should go relatively smood at the end. Making sure every detail is in place and getting ready for the final delivery.

The Closure

The final step of the project management is The Closure where the final product is delivered to the client. The project manager should expect client feedback and if everything is ok, it’s time to re-allocate resources and do one final review to determine if the project was a success.

What makes a project successful?

If you’re building something like an electric vehicle, the project success, it’s not only if the vehicle can travel; it’s also if it’s safe for consumers, it’s within the predicted time, budget and scope.

Project Management Time Cost Quality CDCI

Final Thoughts

Project Management develops systems to help all types of organizations, startups and even in our private lives, to produce successful results. It should not be taken lightly or cheep. It it a very crucial part of a project and should be treated accordingly. Companies that hire project managers have dramatic increases in the success rate of their projects and getting a much bigger return on investment.

There is a lot more to it, but now you know how important Project Management is.

Have you ever hired, or are you a project manager? What systems have you implemented?

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