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Fundamentals of Project Management

By : Xuan|1 Nov 2021
project management
project manager

Project Management can seem like a daunting discipline as it’s such a broad subject with so many different approaches. But once you get a grasp of the fundamentals, and combine that with some real life experience (trust me, arranging a birthday party is a real life example of managing a project), you’ll be on your way to leading successful projects.


What is a project?

A project is a series of tasks that need to be completed to reach a desired outcome. Projects have boundaries, such as the time, people and resources needed to complete the project. Reaching that desired outcome takes collaboration amongst project team members and careful planning (which is what a project manager does - we will come to this point later) that keeps the project on track and on budget.

A project has 4 main phases:

1. Initiation

In this phase is where the project scope, goals, and deliverables are set. This is also where you identify the budget and resources needed, the people involved in the project, who the stakeholders are, what the risks are, and any other details that can impact the successful completion of the project.

2. Planning

This is where the roadmap taking the project from start to finish is formed, which means creating a budget, a breakdown of the tasks needed to be completed, deadlines and resources needed to complete everything on time, ways to communicate team roles and responsibilities, and what to do in case the project encounters problems or needs to change.

3. Execution and completion of tasks

This is where the project begins and the project plan is put into action. To make sure the project is proceeding as planned, you need to monitor the progress. If the project isn’t proceeding as planned, work to remove the obstacles and remove issues.

4. Closing

Projects are temporary endeavors, so they eventually come to an end and need to be formally closed. Closing the project is a great chance to evaluate how the project went, and a great way to connect with anyone outside your team who may have had interest in the project's goal.

Throughout the full project life cycle, project management is critical to the success of projects both big and small.


What is project management?

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, processes, and techniques to meet the project acceptance criteria and achieve the desired outcome.

Projects that require formal management are those that:

  • Produce something new or altered, tangible or intangible;
  • Have a finite timespan: a definite start and end;
  • Are likely to be complex in terms of work or groups involved;
  • Require the management of change;
  • Require the management of risks.

Project management is valuable to businesses because it helps ensure that a project delivers the expected outcomes, both on time and within budget. It also ensures efficient and best value use of resources, and satisfies the different needs of the project’s stakeholders.


What do project managers do?

Project managers usually follow a process that involves planning and organizing, managing tasks, budgeting, controlling costs and other factors. Everything they do helps make sure the project can be completed on time and on budget. For this reason, they are accountable for the entire project scope, the project team and resources, the project budget, and the success or failure of the project.

There are a number of general tasks that any good project manager can expect to perform on a daily basis:

  • Budgeting and controlling budget
  • Communicating with team members
  • Communicating with key stakeholders
  • Risk control and resolution
  • Time management and approval
  • Team-building

The values of project managers:

Project managers add value to their teams and organizations in key ways that include prioritization, delegation, and effective communication. In other words, they add value to their teams and organizations through effective prioritization of tasks required to complete a project, matching tasks to individuals who can best complete the work, and effective communication, both with their team and with key stakeholders.

Key project manager role and responsibilities:

During the planning and execution of a project, project managers tend to use certain tools, such as a Project Management Software and develop processes to improve information sharing across the team. They need to create plans, timelines, schedules, and other forms of documentation to track project completion, and they will usually need to maintain those documents throughout the entirety of the project.

Another huge piece of the project manager's role is managing tasks. Keeping track of tasks is a great way to help manage the team's workload and ensure that things are getting done. At IDEX, we provide project managers with all sorts of project views, including a list view to have a detailed view of the tasks, their priorities, status, completion date, and more; board, or Kanban view to focus on things at hands easily; and calendar map out tasks over time.

The next task is budgeting and controlling costs, and other factors. As the project is underway, changes to the plan and budget are bound to come up. This will require project managers to monitor and manage the budget, track issues and risks as they arise, and manage quality by mitigating those issues and risks.

Now we have grasped the fundamentals of project management and the role a project manager plays in managing projects, in the next articles, we will talk more about another important aspect of project management - the methodologies and approaches of project management. This will help you and your team choose what’s best for your project, and pick one that works best for you, or combine them to make use of multiple methodologies at the same time.


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