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Project Fundamentals

Project managers do the scheduling, tracking and managing of the resources that go into a project. / Credit

Project management is the process of planning and organizing tasks to accomplish a successful project. Projects are one-time temporary efforts designed to produce a specific result, such as installing a new computer system or planning an event. They can last for a week or years, but a project has an end date. This is different from ongoing operations, which don’t have end dates. Examples of these include payroll and human resources.

Project management is a big growth industry. The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that between 2010 and 2020, there will be 6.2 million project management jobs in the United States alone. Project managers are tasked with keeping projects on the right track. They ensure that projects finish on time and within budget, while also meeting the needs of the customer. Project managers do the scheduling, tracking and managing of the resources that go into a project.

Project management begins with the project initiation stage, where the manager develops a project charter to announce a new project and evaluate key aspects of the proposed project. The project scope must be defined, as well as risk management. The kick-off report comes next, which defines objectives, scope, requirements, timeline, meeting schedules and budget for the project.

The next stage of project management is project control. A project plan will help manage and control project execution, including resource hours and requirements. Regular status updates should be reported by the project team and managers, who should also be developing a project test plan. Testing is a critical part of the project management process, and the test plan should include key deliverables and milestones, time line, budget, and checklists for testing requirements.

Once all project tasks and milestones have been completed, the project is in the closure stage. A project closing report will be needed to summarize the process, methodology, findings, budget constraints, and what was learned during the project’s process. With this report, the organization can use what was learned during this project by applying its lessons to the next project.

5 Basic Phases of Project Management

Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project.” The process of directing and controlling a project from start to finish may be further divided into 5 basic phases:

1. Project conception and initiation

An idea for a project will be carefully examined to determine whether or not it benefits the organization. During this phase, a decision making team will identify if the project can realistically be completed.

2. Project definition and planning

A project plan, project charter and/or project scope may be put in writing, outlining the work to be performed. During this phase, a team should prioritize the project, calculate a budget and schedule, and determine what resources are needed.

3. Project launch or execution

Resources’ tasks are distributed and teams are informed of responsibilities. This is a good time to bring up important project related information.

4. Business Services Consulting

Project managers will compare project status and progress to the actual plan, as resources perform the scheduled work. During this phase, project managers may need to adjust schedules or do what is necessary to keep the project on track.

5. Project close

After project tasks are completed and the client has approved the outcome, an evaluation is necessary to highlight project success and/or learn from project history

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