The Basics of Project Management

Project management is a fundamental component of any business. Every change, addition, or business venture that an organization goes through requires some sort of project management. Whether your role is to handle one project at a time or multiple projects simultaneously, the core elements of project management remain the same. Before embarking on your role as project manager, keep reading to gain a better understanding of the basics of project management and how it can lead your organization to success. 

What is Project Management?

Project management is one piece of an organization’s operations. Its main purpose is planning and organizing a project and the resources needed to accomplish it. It involves formulating a detailed plan, assigning a project team, and efficiently guiding the team through all phases of the project until it is completed. Project managers are responsible for team organization, time management, developing reports, and ensuring that the project is well executed from start to finish. Some organizations utilize project management software in place of or in addition to a project manager. 

What are Project Managers’ Responsibilities?

These are the key responsibilities of a project manager:

1. Team Organization

Project managers assign tasks to team members based on their strengths and skills. They develop detailed plans that steers team members toward completion of their goal.

2. Time Management

Project managers set  deadlines for completing tasks and communicate those expectations to their team members. They also shift gears as necessary if they notice the project is falling behind. 

3. Monitor Project Progress

Using their initial plan and roadmap, project managers assess progress along the way and take corrective measures when necessary to ensure the projects are delivered on time and on budget. 

4. Project Budgets and Cost

In addition to completing a successful project, managers must also make sure the project does not exceed the planned budget. Project managers must prepare, manage, and ensure their costs do not exceed the estimated budget.

How to Develop a Project Plan

Building a project plan requires the managers to consider a number of factors before creating their draft. It is important to come up with a plan that the team agrees to upfront so it can serve as a reference throughout the project. Here are some steps to building a project plan that will keep you on track while delivering successful results. 

1. Meet with Stakeholders

The first step in creating a project plan is to meet with project stakeholders who will be directly impacted by the results of your project. During the meeting you want to determine the purpose of the project, project goals, project budget, and a tentative schedule for completion of the project. 

2. Set Goals

Now that you have a better understanding of what is expected of you, it’s time to set attainable goals as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure and assess the success of your project. KPIs should include:

  • Time spent
  • On-time completion
  • Planned hours vs. time spent
  • Number of adjustments
  • Cost performance index
  • Budget line items
  • Return on investment

3. Define Project Roles and Responsibilities

It is now time to assemble a team to execute this project which would include: project manager, project sponsors, project team members, industry experts, and risk analysts

4. Develop a Project Schedule and Cost Estimates

Once you’ve established your project goals and assembled your team, it is time to put together a detailed plan which includes a schedule and budget. Identify specific tasks, resources needed to complete those tasks, an estimate for how long it will take, and an estimate for the cost of each task. 

5. Present Your Plan

Once you have gathered all necessary information, you are ready to present your plan to the stakeholders. At this point you can make any necessary changes and reassess the plan if needed. Do this as many times as necessary until you have approval from your stakeholders.