Implementing project management is crucial for any organization, especially in modern businesses in which the roles of employees have become much more flexible. Nowadays, it’s common for one employee to encompass several tasks in a single project. Without proper project management in place, it will be tough to manage all these different tasks and roles.
On the other hand, organization-wide implementation of project management can be too complex and can be a confusing task for stakeholders who aren’t familiar with the concept. Thus, it is usually an even more significant challenge to implement project management to ensure all stakeholders and employees systematically follow the project management for success.
This is why creating a project management system that is transparent and comprehensive so that it is easily monitored and understood by everyone involved is crucial, and this is where the aid of a functional project management software comes in.
What Actually Is Project Management?
First things first, a ‘project’ is defined as a process that produces a deliverable or product and has a clear start and end state. Project management is a methodology of planning, monitoring, and evaluating a project to ensure its success.
So, project management comprises many different related disciplines: planning, scheduling, resource management, risk management, timeline management, and much more.
A project manager is typically responsible for developing a project management plan and overseeing the whole project based on this plan. The project manager monitors the project’s execution and makes the necessary changes until the desired deliverable is produced, typically with the help of project management software.
Project Management Phases
All projects involve a clear start, a middle, and a finished state, and so we can divide the project into a series of phases.
Four essential phases should happen in all projects:
The project’s starting phase is where we develop the idea and the initial concept of the project. Typically a project charter is developed in this phase.
A project charter—or project statement—, is a formal, usually short document that describes the project as a whole, detailing things like:
- The reason(s) for the project
- Project objectives and milestones
- Constraints/limitations of the project
- The main stakeholders
- Potential risks
- Budget overview
- Benefits of the project
After a project charter is developed, the initiation phase ends with a project kickoff meeting where the team that is going to be involved in the project meet together and other relevant stakeholders/parties. The project kickoff meeting’s objective is to properly define the project’s schedule, assign roles, and define critical processes like the chain of commands and communications policy.
The next phase is to plan the project’s details by breaking it down into smaller milestones and estimating each timeline. This is where a project plan is developed, typically with the assistance of a project management software that allows us to visualize the Gantt chart plan.
This phase’s objective is to adequately define the order/sequence of the tasks required to finish the project and how these tasks are related to each other. So, we get a clear roadmap of what needs to get done to complete the project.
Pretty self-explanatory is where the project plan’s execution happens, and each task included in the project plan gets executed.
A vital aspect of this phase is monitoring and controlling the work to stay on track in terms of schedule, quality control, and budget.
In this phase, the project manager and the whole team must deal with issues, mitigate risks, and make the necessary adjustments to the project plan. Arguably this is the phase where the bulk of the project management work happens.
After the deliverable(s) is complete, the project needs to be closed down carefully to finish off any necessary reports and paperwork and pass on the deliverables over to another department when required (i.e., a marketing deliverable to the operations team).
Typically a project manager in this phase is responsible for reviewing all contracts and documentation related to the project to ensure every requirement has been met. The project manager must confirm to all stakeholders and clients that the project is now officially over (a proper sign-off).
Project Management Methodologies
While there can be various methodologies and approaches that we can implement in project management, based on the scope and objectives of the project itself, here are some of the most popular project management methodologies available:
The waterfall approach is the simplest and yet effective way to plan and manage a project and is characterized by how the tasks flow down linearly, just like a waterfall. In the waterfall method, we start with the project’s requirements, plan a solution, execute the solution, test and implement it, and then move the solution into a maintenance stage.
The waterfall methodology is excellent if the project’s requirements are exact and relatively static (it won’t change much over the project). However, if the required steps to finish the project aren’t clear, the waterfall method is not recommended.
Critical path method
The critical path method, or CPM, is specially designed for projects that involve tasks that the team can’t or shouldn’t begin until others are finished first. For example, we can only paint a house after the plumbing, and electrical wires have been properly installed.
A key aspect is determining the correct order of the tasks (the critical path) and focusing on the highest priorities above all others.
The agile method is a relatively new project management methodology that emphasized four key aspects:
- Valuing individual interactions over systems and tools.
- Minimizing extensive documentation and focusing on utilizing the proper software
- Teams and customers shouldn’t focus on contracts and administrations but collaborations
- Responsiveness and flexibility over rigid compliance to the project plan
In short, the agile model is focused on getting the team to be more productive and produce as much as they can before moving to the next set of requirements. Great for projects where speed is the most important objective, but it can be hard to implement in an established, rigid organization.
A famous methodology developed by Motorola, Six Sigma involves five key steps called DMAIC-S:
- Define customer needs
- Measure the performance of each task and process
- Analyze common and potential issues
- Improve solutions and systems
- Control the improved process
- Synergize the solutions throughout the organization
Great methodology improves efficiency and productivity, but it can be challenging to implement since it’s relatively technical.
With the increasing complexities of implementing project management, proper workflow management software like Aproove can be a great solution where project managers, team members, stakeholders, and clients can easily visualize every project step. This, in turn, will allow proper monitoring of whether schedule, budget, and requirements are met throughout the course of the project, allowing more efficiency and productivity.
Interesting Related Article: “How Can You Use Agile Project Management To Manage Your Team Better?“