According to Project Management Institute (PMI), a “project” is a temporary task geared towards delivering a unique product, service or result. Projects do not automatically manage themselves. Instead, they must be managed to ensure they succeed.
A 2020 study by the PMI revealed that poor performance and management led to the wastage of 11.4% of every dollar invested in projects. That’s how important project management is to avoid money wastage.
Project management drives project success. Coordinated by a project manager with the necessary qualifications and certifications, the process helps identify the least path of resistance for a project to meet company goals and removes any roadblocks that may limit it. In this guide, we’ll walk out through all there is to know about project management in 2023.
What is Project Management?
Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and principles to deliver value to people either as a product or service. It is the process of creating, planning, organising, and executing a plan to meet specific objectives.
One way or the other, everyone manages projects. No matter what you do, project management is essential to achieving business objectives. Let’s look at some of its basic concepts.
Importance of project management for organisations
There are a thousand and one reasons project management is important for your organisation. Here are a few to consider.
#1 Clarity on Responsibilities
Projects fail when people don’t know exactly what is expected of them. Project management helps you set clear objectives and then direct your efforts towards achieving the same. Once the central objectives are clear, you can break them down into smaller bits that can be assigned to individuals. Thus, individuals can take responsibility for specific actions and be held accountable for their completion.
#2 Effective Risk Management
Every project has its risks. When you effectively anticipate what can go wrong and take steps to mitigate them, it becomes easier to respond to them if they eventually occur. With project management, you are better able to manage all risks.
#3 Efficient Use of Resources
A good project management system gives you an accurate perspective of the deliverables, available resources, and project requirements. This ensures you’re able to allocate as many resources as necessary to fulfil a task at a time. It also means you’ll be able to schedule resources as needed, saving time and preventing waste.
#4 Collaboration and Communication
Project teams are often multidisciplinary. Without proper project management systems, communication may be strained or slow, leading to wide gaps in task execution. With the right project management system, you’ll have the best collaboration and communication tools at your disposal, helping you to pursue your project goals as a team, carrying everybody along as much as possible.
The Project Lifecycle
According to PMI, there are five distinct phases in the project management lifecycle, regardless of your approach. These are the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring/control, and closure phases.
The foundations for a successful project are established in the initiation phase. It is the phase where you define the overview of the project, its scope, and its budget. You may need to perform a feasibility study and identify major stakeholders at this stage. If it is a large project, a project charter or project initiation document will also be needed.
The planning phase is when you draw out the project roadmap, including deliverables, key milestones, and deadlines in line with the organisation’s requirements. The deadline provides the project team with a clear picture of what is needed to succeed and when. During the planning phase, you should also choose your preferred project management methodology, tools, and team members.
Also, the metrics for success and the risks of failure should be identified and a project plan to maximize the positives and reduce /eliminate the negative occurs. We’ll discuss these in more detail later in the guide.
After all the planning, it’s only logical that execution should follow so that what’s only on paper becomes a reality. The bulk of the project time is spent in this phase. After considering the project plan, the project team will focus on completing the project deliverables when due.
This phase goes together with the execution phase. The project manager must ensure the project continues to move forward in the right direction towards the achievement of project objectives. The project manager will be responsible for managing workflow, reviewing completed deliverables for approval, and recommending changes where necessary. Effective monitoring requires proper documentation. The more visual the documentation, the easier it is to communicate about the project.
This final step signals the official conclusion of the project. It is a time to wrap up all activities, organise documents and reflect on the entire project process( so that future projects can be improved upon). Sometimes known as the project delivery phase, it is also the stage when you deliver the final product to the client and conclude any formal agreements or contracts.
The project manager should also communicate the successful completion of the project to necessary stakeholders and celebrate the task accomplishment with the project team members.
7 tips for Successful Project Management
Done right, successful project completion provides an avenue for companies and teams to release new products, transform their business, and provide value to the client. Alternatively, failed projects can drag business downwards and lead to a loss of client confidence. It is necessary to have the right foundation to ensure successful project management. Here are 7 tips to ensure the success of your next project management endeavour.
- Take time to plan
Most projects fail because of poor planning and research. If you want your project to succeed, invest time in the initiation and planning stages of your project. Ensure you have adequately spelt out the project objectives and parameters for success so that there is no deviation and confusion later.
It’s important to also define the project scope clearly as project scope creep is a leading cause of failed projects. Ensure key project stakeholders are involved as early as possible to ensure the cope is defined to the best of your abilities. Even if extraneous factors try to shift the scope during the project, the project will be robust enough to accommodate and adjust without veering off course.
- Choose the right methodology for your project
Different projects require different approaches depending on their complexity, budget, and timeline. Having gained an understanding of your project, carefully select a suitable methodology for managing it. A suitable methodology will describe the principles for executing and monitoring projects till completion.
- Promote a culture of transparency and ownership
As the project progresses, all team members need to be carried along. Promoting a culture of transparency helps every member stay on top of the project. One way to do this is to use a tool that allows you to document every step of the project like Kanban or Scrum.
Likewise, a culture of ownership helps every team member to take responsibility for the success of the entire project. It will help the members understand the significance of their roles and to deliver no matter how strenuous it gets. Clear communication and delegation of duties are essential to developing this culture. Also, involving members from the planning phase can contribute to this.
- Schedule appropriately
Set deadlines that are realistic, considering your team’s expertise, ability, and workload. While the perfect timeline may be impossible, balancing workload with deliverables can get you as close as possible.
Also, you can use several tools to help the team manage its schedule and timeline. By properly communicating the schedule, you can avoid avoidable delays that can affect the project. It’s common when scheduling to add time buffers for developments you may not have factored into your plan. A robust schedule allocates time to the planned and plans time for the unforeseen.
- Manage resources effectively
Ensure resources are allocated to the most important activities when due, to improve efficiency. For example, activities that require the same tools or expertise may be scheduled together. For example, instead of renting a caterpillar for a construction project on two different occasions, lump those activities together so that the caterpillar can be used at once. That way, you eliminate all the back-and-forth processes that may be involved in booking the caterpillar and the delay that may be associated with its delivery to the construction site.
- Involve stakeholders
Stakeholders refer to anyone who has a direct input on project success. They could range from the project owner to the end user, a supervisor or manager, and project team members. Stakeholders who are involved through the different stages of project development are going to be more easily satisfied than the ones who are involved at just the initiation. Likewise, the stakeholder who is involved at the start of a project will be more satisfied than the one who was never involved.
Ensure you establish a suitable line of communication with the stakeholders to help everyone stay abreast of the project development.
- Choose appropriate project management tools
Your project management efforts are only as effective as the tools you use. You must use a project management platform like Procept Africa to help manage the workflow and keep track of all the moving parts of the project.
Project Management Methodologies
A project management methodology refers to the guiding principles and practices you deploy on your projects to ensure effectiveness and optimum performance. To ensure project success despite the variation, it is important to use the right project management methodology. The right project management methodology provides the best possible way you can manage your project. Otherwise, your project can turn into a nightmare.
No two projects are the same. Team types, goals, objectives, available resources, and KPIs can change. That’s why you cannot use the same methodology for every project. Asides from this, there are other factors to consider when choosing a project management methodology. These include cost and budget, team size, ability to take risks, flexibility, timeline, and client/stakeholder collaboration.
Examples of project management methodologies include
- Critical Path,
- Lean Six Sigma
Basics of Agile Methodology
Perhaps one of the most relevant project management methodologies in recent times is the Agile methodology. Agile project management is a cyclical, iterative, and collaborative project approach that divides the project into stages that can be easily completed. These stages are also called sprints and they guarantee short-term success towards longer-term goals.
There are different types of agile methodology. They include scrum, Kanban, lean, and Nimble.
Outsourcing your project management
Sometimes, it is best to outsource your project management efforts to a professional team instead of paying an in-house team. Doing that will help ensure a transparent development process, minimise your costs, and efficiently deploy your resources.
At Procept Africa, we help organisations plan and implement project management frameworks, methods, and tools for their projects. After 30 years of excellent service, we know we are what you need to achieve your next business goals. Get on a call with us and let’s get our best hands on your project.