What is project management?
Project Management can be defined as the discipline and process of managing the end-to-end activities within a project life cycle from the planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project to budgeting, resource management and the motivation of all those involved; to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality, and performance.
A basic project management lifecycle covers four stages: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closure.
The importance of project management.
When done correctly, project management is integral for any organisation as it helps all facets of the business run smoothly. It allows team members to prioritise the work that matters, freeing them from distractions caused by tasks taking them off track. It empowers team members to deliver results that positively impact the business. It also enables employees to see how their work contributes to the company’s strategic goals.
Because projects can often be extremely complex and involve various stakeholders, having a project manager lead your team and ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal is integral to project success.
Reasons why you need project management:
1. Clear focus and objectives
Project managers are there to take control of all this and much more. Project managers position themselves around the whole team and project so that they can execute the perfect project that consists of an efficient distribution of tasks among the team members. Breaking larger tasks into smaller chunks not only helps the team to get them done easily but also helps the project manager to monitor all of the tasks easily.
In order to perfectly execute a project, you need to ensure that your team is always focused and that your plan is flawless. When you make your team do the work of a project manager without the proper training and knowledge, you end up with improper briefs, poorly defined objectives and projects that lack focus.
2. Realistic project planning
The importance of project planning cannot be overemphasised. Oftentimes, organisations overestimate the timeframe in which they can achieve deliverables, or underestimate the costs, or both – which leads to project failure.
A competent project manager will consider the big picture and set realistic and achievable goals, budgets, and timelines.
To set realistic goals, budgets, and timelines, the project manager will liaise with the relevant stakeholders to understand the strategic priorities and business objectives of the project. Based on their research, the project manager then outlines a project plan that balances those priorities within the constraints of time and budget. This process involves cost estimation, resource management, and risk assessment.
3. Strategic alignment
Project management aligns projects with the overarching business strategy. It should be seen as a driver of organisational strategy. Therefore, if you are not applying project management principles to your business in order to achieve strategic goals and initiatives, you are likely not going to grow as well as an organisation that does.
As project managers oversee the planning and execution of a project, they help ensure the project’s overall goals and its subsequent tasks and milestones all align with the organisation’s strategy. Strategic alignment at every level of the project keeps each stakeholder on the same page and ensures each initiative is driving the business forward.
4. Effective resource allocation
The biggest, most important resource project managers have at their disposal is their team members.
Project teams consist of people of different backgrounds and departments, who might have other commitments in addition to their involvement in the project. Through proper project planning however, it is possible to ensure that they are available when needed.
Similarly, other resources like the budget, tools, machinery, and more can be arranged effectively to avoid project delays during the execution of the project. Through properly allocating each resource in the beginning, it is easier to monitor the phases that are more demanding and prepare accordingly.
5. Improved customer satisfaction
In the project management context, customer satisfaction would form part of project quality management whereby the project manager ensures that policies, objectives, and responsibilities of the project are satisfying all relevant project stakeholders.
The concept of customer satisfaction is therefore applied by project managers to generate quality products and services, in the most timeous fashion.
6. Learning by retrospection
When managing a project, it’s important not to make the same mistakes repeatedly. Therefore, project managers use retrospectives to consider what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what should be done differently for the next project to improve overall efficiency and success.
This produces a valuable set of documentation that becomes a record of what works and what doesn’t work going forward, enabling the business to learn from their failures and their success.
7. Risk Management
Appropriate planning means that your project is ready for potential risks that may occur. This means that you are somewhat prepared to overcome any unforeseen obstacles that may negatively impact your project.
A competent project manager will never ignore the risks, regardless of how minor their expected impact may be. Every risk deserves to be properly analysed and dealt with as soon as possible.
8. Continuous Oversight
Another importance of adequate project management is that it ensures a project’s progress is tracked and reported on appropriately.
Status reporting may be boring and sometimes feel unnecessary – but continuous project oversight and ensuring that a project is tracking properly against the original plan, is critical to ensuring that a project stays on track.
When proper oversight and project reporting is in place it makes it easy to see when a project is beginning to deviate from its intended course. The earlier you’re able to spot project deviation, the easier it is to correct it and get back on track.
9. Quality control
Project members are under enormous pressure to adhere to project guidelines, deadlines, budgets, compliance standards and quality control.
Project management is important when it comes to identifying, managing, and controlling the quality of whatever project is being delivered. As it is important to deliver what was promised to the client, the project manager ensures that the quality of the deliverables remains up to the mark. It’s the duty of the project manager to deliver a quality project on time.
A successful project always consists of incredible leadership coupled with strong direction, which can only be achieved by the help of a skilled and efficient project manager.
Leadership is always key when you want your team to be performing at their absolute best. The amount of time and energy you spend on leading your project team will always help you in the long run because it builds trust and commitment to deadlines.
How can you become a successful project manager?
Now you know how proper project management can benefit an organisation. If you feel you need to upskill yourself in project management principles, and wish to develop an understanding of the project management process, then sign up[ for the IMM’s Project Management Fundamentals online short course.
By completing this course, in only 6 weeks you will be provided with the required fundamentals to initiate, establish, plan and manage a project to successful completion.
You can find more information about this online short course on our website https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online-course/project-management-fundamentals/.