What is project management? Achieving Your Project Goals

Project management is a combination of multiple sets of skills. It relates to a person’s ability to use their available methods, processes and knowledge effectively and efficiently, in order to fulfill a goal. This overall goal that must be achieved is fulfilling a project’s objectives, without going over the limit of allocated resources (time, money, personnel, etc).

Project management is easily measurable through the analysis of the end result parameters. If the objective of the project was reached as agreed initially, then the project was managed efficiently and successfully. 

If the parameters do not overlap with the initial planning, but the project was still completed, that’s still acceptable, but suboptimal. If the parameters aren’t within the agreed criteria, and the objective wasn’t reached, then the project management has failed.

Project management differs from regular management because it has time restricted deliverables. Regular management is an ongoing process, and essential to the optimal performance of an organization. 

However, project management can be correlated strictly with existing projects, but the required skill sets do overlap with the concept of management as a whole.

What is a Project?

Basically, it’s a set of tasks that are temporary in nature, have certain costs and must be completed in a given timeframe. Upon the tasks’ completion, a new product, service or some type of result will be created. 

Once this point is reached, the team that was specifically put together for this project can be dissolved, and allocated to other projects.

The idea of a “project” isn’t restricted to a type of industry . The creation of a mobile application, the terraforming of a hill or the building of an apartment block can all be considered projects. Some projects are scientifical, theoretical; others are practical. 

The similarity between all types of projects is that they need the oversight of a project manager (PM). That’s why we created Alvanda, a set of project management tools that make it easier for both overseers and team members to do their job.

Broadly speaking, a project manager’s knowledge has to include:

  • Technical know-how of the project’s industry (at least general understanding)
  • People management skills
  • Time management skills
  • Workflow optimization skills
  • Cost management skills
  • Risk management skills
  • Expert verbal and written communication skills
  • A focus on business profitability

The Core Components of Project Management

While the actual day-to-day activities of a PM will differ depending on each project in particular, they should each master the same principles. We’ve outlined some general skills above, but now, let’s get into the specifics.

Properly executed project management requires a person highly capable of:

  • Understanding and clearly stating the necessity of a project
  • Understanding the requirements of the project (resources, timescale, quality of deliverables)
  • Drafting and refining the project’s scope in a way that attracts business investment
  • Securing funding, partnerships, joint-business ventures etc
  • Creating and implementing the actual management plan of the project
  • Acting as a team leader for all involved experts/departments; being able to motivate them constantly
  • Reacting fast to emerging issues and changes; being the driving force between fixes and project advancement
  • Being the go-to risk manager
  • Keeping a solid track on the development of the project versus the theorized plan
  • Managing the budget of the project; making sure that it will not be exceeded, or even reducing costs were possible
  • Keeping a constant flow of communication with all parties (both internal and external)
  • Keeping the stakeholders of the project in the loop constantly, providing regular updates and pieces of information as requested
  • Finalizing the end procedures appropriately when the project comes to a close

Why to Use Project Management

If you boil down everything about project management, the core concept is about a team just getting things done. 

The end result of their work is a new product or service that will both serve the interests of their organization (or another one if they were contracted), and satisfy a consumer need.

Project management is a formal and standardized type of practice, best used for projects that aim to:

  • Create a new and original product or iterate on an existing product.
  • Respect time constraints and have the deliverables ready as agreed initially.
  • Adhere to process-based, team focused, complex work.
  • Be very minimally impacted by change requests, or unforeseen issues/circumstances.
  • Reduce overall risks by starting work only after a threat assessment plan.

Since project management is an intense and continuous set of tasks, it’s true that it can end up being a bit costly. However, it’s an investment that’s completely worth making. Without a proper PM in place, there’s a great chance for information being lost, miscommunication, missed deadlines, project requirement uncertainties, etc. 

But, when you do have a project manager overseeing everything that’s being done, you’ll gain the following benefits (and more):

  • A significantly increased chance of achieving the desired result as planned initially
  • Efficient use of all resources (financial, human, time, information, etc)
  • Satisfied stakeholders, as their needs and concerns are addressed directly and in a customized approach depending on each case

In short: you should use project management because it simplifies processes and streamlines information for complex work that has one or multiple stakeholders involved in the result.

When to Use Project Management

It should be noted that you don’t need a project manager for everything. Day-to-day/business as usual activities will be just fine under the oversight of a departmental manager. 

However, when you need to deliver a solution that’s out of the ordinary scope of your work, it’s time for a PM.

Projects will oftentimes bring together specialists from multiple departments or fields of work, some of whom may have never interacted with one another before. 

If your project is IT-based, then the team could be heavily decentralized as well, from a lot of places on the globe. 

This can be a substantial detriment for teamwork efficiency, unless you have a dedicated person whose focus will be on the objective, deliverables, and the timeframe. The grander the scope of the project, and the more complicated the work, the more experienced the project manager should be. 

Let’s say you’re planning a new farming industry sector. There won’t be just one objective for the project, but multiple. You’ll want to track the strategic objectives, but also the outputs, outcomes, and the benefits. 

For example:

  • Strategic objective → the value of your organization’s share of the farming sector triples in 5 years, or the great work you’ve done earns you more contracts, etc.
  • Outputs → the new farming sector is built and equipped successfully (buildings, farming fields, farmer housing, specialized tools, etc).
  • Outcomes → farmers can live in the sector directly and start using the better infrastructure for their work.
  • Benefits → 0 commute costs, easier field irrigation, improved livestock living conditions, etc.

In short: use a PM when your work has a bigger scope than usual. They’ll be able to manage your custom-built team, and assure that the project proceeds as planned.

Who Should Use Project Management

There’s no restriction on an industry basis. Any work that’s complex in nature or requires careful work is a project. Wedding planning is as much a project as developing the education level of a country, despite the scope being massively different. 

So, it really doesn’t matter what niche you’re in. IT, construction, finance, manufacturing, law, you name it. If something complicated needs to get done, you can use the services of a PM. 

It’s all about organizing teams, tracking deliverables, maintaining open communication, optimizing resource use, etc. These concepts are a great fit for any industry.

In short: no matter what you do for a job, or what your organization specializes in, you can use a PM for big projects. The industry isn’t important.

Project Management Phases And Processes

Project management is not a completely homogeneous practice, but rather split into 5 stages that follow one another (with one exception in phase 4). 

This way, project management itself becomes much more manageable, each stage having its own goal and deliverables. The quality of the final product will also be better, since effort isn’t split into 5 directions at once.

At Alvanda, we’ve found that it’s crucial that attention is given to each phase in particular to assure a great waterfall process.

The 5 PM phases are:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Completion/Closing

Initiation (phase 1)

This is when an idea becomes an actual goal. Abstract concepts are turned into tangible objectives, and a business case is created so that it can be presented to potential stakeholders. 

The project charter is then made (a sum of all important project details), and clear goals established.

  • Project goals definition
  • Business case creation
  • Project charter creation
  • Stakeholder list creation

Planning (phase 2)

Deliverables are set up, as well as the entire project’s roadmap. The technical requirements are defined, and the project schedule comes together. 

Communication is key, as S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) and C.L.E.A.R (collaborative, limited, emotional, appreciable, refinable) goals come into play. 

These serve both the interests of the business side and the team side of the project.

  • Scope definition
  • Plan creation
  • Budget constraints and allocation
  • Roles & responsibilities definition

Execution (phase 3)

This is when the actual work for the final product or service begins. The PM supervises adherence to workflows, maintains active collaboration, and communicates with stakeholders.

  • Resource allocation
  • Resource management
  • Working on the product
  • Fixing issues and active collaboration

Monitoring and Controlling (phase 4)

The fourth stage doesn’t really follow the third, but happens at the same time. While the work is being done, it’s imperative that the PM monitors what’s going on and assures that the plan is respected. 

The cost, effort, and work being done is all quantified, optimized, and reported.

  • Project progress monitorization
  • Cost tracking and control
  • Respecting the plan and the timeframe
  • Preventing work disruptions

Completion (phase 5)

After the final delivery and approval of the result, the project is considered closed. External/contingent talent is dismissed as needed, and an overview meeting is held about the successes and failings of the project.

  • Deliverables are presented and reviewed
  • The results are approved or disapproved
  • New knowledge is documented as needed

How To Get Started In Project Management

Being a PM can seem very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to be a micromanager in order to assure your project’s success. 

With Alvanda’s intuitive project management tools, you streamline your processes and tasks, while also keeping team morale high throughout the process. 

We’ve built our project management software from the ground up to be the go-to solution for businesses that want to simplify the life of both their admin staff/management, as well as employees. 

You get powerful tools to keep everything organized, automate task attributions, have status reports at a moment’s notice, get feedback, and track all aspects (requests, revisions, deadlines, etc) intuitively and easily

Optimize your workflow today. Fully customizable.