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Want to become a project manager? Curious to know what project management is all about?
Whether you are a professional looking for ways to upgrade your management skills or someone who wants to move to a higher position in your career, here’s all you need to know.
From the definition of project management and its relevance in today’s world to various career paths and certifications, we have compiled a list of things you must know.
Let us discuss the above points in detail so that you have all the information you need to become a successful project manager.
What is project management?
Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve specific goals of a project within some given constraints such as time, scope, and budget. In other words, it is the process of managing a project and all its related activities from start to finish. Project management plays a critical role in the operation of a business.
Project management definition
Project management is the application of skills, tools, knowledge, and techniques to achieve specific project objectives which leads to the successful completion of a project.
The development of a product or service, construction of a new building, expansion of business to new regions, etc are a few examples of a project.
Every project will have a dedicated team, budget, specific deliverables, and a finite timescale. The final result of a project can be tangible or intangible.
Project management life cycle
The project management life cycle starts when the project is started and ends when the project is completed or terminated.
Project management phases
The project management life cycle consists of 5 phases, each with its own goals and deliverables. It is important for a project manager to have a complete understanding of these project management phases.
This is the first stage which starts with a kick-off meeting. Project initiation consists of the following activities:
- Define the objective of the project
- Determine the project scope and deliverables
- Identify the project stakeholders
- Conduct a feasibility study
- Develop a business case
- Develop the statement of work
The next stage in the project management lifecycle is planning which involves setting the roadmap for the project. This road map will specify the key milestones and timelines for the project and also the target completion date. This will help the project team to have a clear idea of their goals.
Activities in the planning phase include:
- Creation of project roadmap
- Team formation & resource allocation
- Specifying the project deliverables
- Selection of PM methodology
As the name suggests, this is the phase during which all the work gets done. The project manager is responsible for guiding the team and stakeholders throughout to ensure a smooth workflow. Some of the major activities the project manager will do in the execution phase are:
- Budget management
- Timeline management
- Quality management
- Risk management
- Change management
- Internal reviews
- Regular team meetings
After the execution phase comes to the monitoring and control phase. During this phase, the project manager measures the team’s performance and tracks the progress of the project.
Monitoring phase activities include:
- Regular monitoring using tracking tools or frameworks
- Corrective actions if required
- Budget & expense control
- Quality check for deliverables
- Timeline assessment
5. Project closure
Project closure or “Project Delivery” is the final stage in the project management lifecycle. A project closure meeting will help the team evaluate the end result and find areas for improvement. Some of the project closure formalities include:
- End result evaluation
- Final budget evaluation
- Preparation of final project report
- Completion of formal contracts and agreements
- Documentation and archival of data
Importance of project management
Let’s now discuss the importance of project management in today’s world.
Project management plays a pivotal role in multiple industries such as construction, software development, healthcare, banking and finance, retail, Government, Non-profit organizations, manufacturing, pharmaceutical research, and so on.
If you look at organizations that are well-managed, they will have a solid project management system in place. It is an area that deserves strong attention as it drives the business forward and ensures the best results.
Benefits of project management
The effective use of project management tools and techniques is the key to success for any organization.
Here are the top benefits of project management:
- Adopts a proactive approach
- Increased productivity & job satisfaction
- Avoids confusion and organizes work
- Improves team collaboration
- Optimizes resource allocation
- Reduced costs & avoid overspend
- Enhance customer satisfaction
- Ensures On-time delivery
- Enhances stakeholder satisfaction
- Gains competitive advantage
Project management methodologies
There are various types of project management methodologies catering to the needs of specific industries and projects. Here is a list of the commonly used project management techniques:
1. Waterfall methodology
In this model, the tasks cascade down in a sequential, linear fashion.
The waterfall model can be divided into 6 phases with each phase getting completed before the next phase begins.
The waterfall model is a well-defined methodology that is best suited for projects with fixed scope and deliverables.
The 6 phases of the waterfall methodology are:
2. Agile project management (APM)
Agile methodology adopts an iterative, flexible approach to planning and executing project tasks by breaking down the processes into smaller sections called iterations or sprints. It is popularly used in product development, engineering, and software development industries.
Agile is one of the most effective project management techniques as there is continuous process improvement throughout the project life cycle.
The 5 main phases in the Agile Project Management process are:
Scrum is an Agile framework where a small team is led by a Scrum master. The work is carried out in small cycles called sprints.
The Scrum team comprises a product owner, a development team, and the Scrum master. The Scrum Master ensures that there are no roadblocks in the process.
Scrum methodology is best suitable for complex projects where a small number of developers are employed. Adopting the Scrum methodology will help to speed up the development process while maintaining the best quality.
Kanban is another Agile framework that is more flexible than Scrum. It focuses on quality deliverables and timely delivery.
The Kanban concept was developed by Toyota in the 1940s to improve manufacturing efficiency.
Similar to Scrum, Kanban also works well for projects with smaller teams with a flexible approach to product delivery.
The Kanban framework involves the following core practices:
- Visualization of workflow
- Limiting work in progress
- Active workflow management
- Making process guidelines
- Using feedback loops
- Evolution & Improvement
5. Lean method
Lean methodology focuses on minimizing waste and maximizing value for the customer.
Lean is a business philosophy developed by Toyota in the 1950s. Effective application of lean philosophy can help businesses to reduce cost and lead time while increasing quality.
Lean methodology has 5 lean principles – value, value stream, continuous flow, pull system, and perfection.
Network diagram- project management
A network diagram is a graphical representation of a project which helps to visualize the project activities before starting the work.
It shows the sequence of activities and task duration for each activity. In a project network diagram, the boxes or nodes represent the activities, and arrows depict the relationship between the activities.
A network diagram allows a project manager to track each project activity and share the status with the team members.
The two most commonly used methods for drawing a network diagram are the precedence diagramming method (PDM) and the arrow diagramming method (ADM).
Project manager roles and responsibilities
If you are planning to start your career in project management, you should be aware of the different roles and responsibilities of a project manager.
A good project manager takes control of a project from start to end, ensuring that the team’s initiatives and goals are strategically aligned.
Role of project manager
Project managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and driving one or more projects to completion while effectively managing the three critical constraints viz time, scope, and quality. The role of a project manager differs according to project size and organization.
“Leadership offers an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter what the project.” ~ Bill Owens
What does a project manager do on a daily basis?
Apart from the above-mentioned duties, a project manager also performs many other day-to-day activities such as communicating with project stakeholders, interacting with the client, conducting team building activities, resolution of unexpected issues, tracking project progress, preparing important project documents, cost control, and so on.
Be it small firms or multinational firms, project managers act as the pillars of an organization.
Project management principles
The principles are the fundamental rules to be followed for successful project completion. Following are the key principles a project manager must follow while managing a project.
- Define a project organization structure
- Prepare a communication plan
- Set clear project goals and objectives
- Performance management baseline
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Change management plan
- Create a risk management plan
- Quality management plan
Project management job opportunities
Any business that has projects needs project managers. Project Management is aimed to offer value at the strategic and organizational levels while also creating excellent job opportunities for people around the world.
According to PMI’s 2021 Talent Gap report, 2.3 million new project management professionals will be needed each year to meet global talent demands by 2030.
Top project manager jobs
If you are aspiring to become a PM professional, here are some of the job positions you can consider for yourself.
- Project management consultant
- IT project manager
- Construction project manager
- New product development project manager
- Assistant project manager
Project management tools
Project management has evolved significantly in recent years, and there are plenty of tools to help facilitate those changes. These tools help to streamline the process and make it more efficient.
Here are some of the best project management software tools available today:
- Zoho Projects
- Kanban Tool
- Gantt Charts
- Work Breakdown Structure
Key project management skills
A PM professional needs a broad range of skills from technical skills and people management skills to communication skills and business knowledge. Through education and training, you can acquire the skills required to handle the role of a project manager.
Listed below are some of the key project management skills :
Pursue MBA in project management
Like any other field, project management is also continuously evolving which makes it important for professionals to upgrade their skills periodically.
If you have already gained some years of work experience in a company, then you can consider pursuing an Executive MBA while working full-time.
MBA in Project Management is a postgraduate program that will help you familiarize yourself with project management tools and techniques. Executive MBA is specially designed for busy working professionals as it can be pursued online or through part-time mode.
An MBA degree will help you gain in-depth theoretical knowledge about business management concepts. In addition, an internationally recognized master’s degree will always add great value to your resume.
Project management certification
Getting a certification is another valuable add-on to your profile. Popular courses like Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) are highly recommended if you are looking for a highly rewarding career in PM.
Now that you have learned a great deal about project management and the role of a project manager, it’s time you put your knowledge into practice.
First, you should choose the industry you want to work in. The next step is to acquire the skills either through PM courses or through hands-on experience. You can either follow the traditional way of becoming a project manager through relevant work experience or become a certified project manager by completing formal education.
We hope that this detailed guide was helpful to you.
What qualifications do I need to become a project manager?
Generally, a candidate needs a Bachelor’s degree with at least 2 years of work experience for project management roles. However, the eligibility criteria may vary depending on the industry and nature of the project.
Is project management a good career option?
Yes, project management is an excellent career option offering opportunities to work with diverse types of clients from around the world. Project manager jobs come with high salary packages as the demand keeps increasing.
What are the skills needed to become a project manager?
A right mix of soft skills and hard skills is required to become a successful project manager. Hard skills also termed technical skills can be acquired through education and training programs while soft skills and people management skills are acquired mostly through experience.
How many years of experience do I need to be a project manager?
You need at least 2-3 years of experience in a related field to take up the role of a project manager. This requirement can vary according to the company and type of project.
What are the best project management courses?
Executive MBA in Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, Associate in Project Management (APM) certification, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification, PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner certification, etc are some of the best project management courses available.
What is a PMP certification?
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® is the world's leading project management certification awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMP certifies a candidate's skills and competencies required to lead a project.
Which is the best free project management software I can use?
Some of the best free project management softwares available are: Asana Trello Wrike Jira Airtable Paymo ClickUp GoodDay