Project Management: A How-To Guide With Best Practices

Project management is the discipline of managing projects and projects by overseeing the entire project life cycle. In this article, you will learn everything about Project management.

Nov 19, 2023
Project Management: A How-To Guide With Best Practices
Project management is the discipline of managing projects and projects by overseeing the entire project life cycle. Project management is one of the most important aspects of business management. It serves as a way to deliver quality work on time and within budget.
The success of any organization relies heavily on its ability to manage projects, which are often complex in nature. A properly executed project can ensure that your organization will reach its goals and meet their objectives.

Project management definition

The definition of project management can be found in the Project Management Institute International (PMI) Glossary of Terms, which states:
"Project management is the application of best practices in all phases of project life cycle to create successful projects. It ensures that a planned project achieves its objectives within budget, on schedule, and to the required quality."
What separates great project managers from poor ones? Generally speaking, a great project manager
has the following qualities:
1. Strong project management skills
2. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
3. Proven experience managing projects of similar complexity
4. Experience with project management tools, methods and resources
5. Proven experience leading complex projects
Project management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While the above five qualities are common to great project managers, different organizations will require different skills and expertise when managing projects. Ultimately, what separates a good project manager from an exceptional one is their ability to adapt and overcome challenges while maintaining control of the project.

Project management overview

A project is a series of related tasks or activities that are undertaken with the goal of producing a specific outcome. A project can be defined in many ways, but generally it is characterized by its duration (time period within which it is planned and executed), its purpose (what the project goals are), and the people involved in its execution.
There are four main phases to anyproject:
  1. Planning;
  1. Execution;
  1. Monitoring and Control;
  1. Closing.
The planning phase establishes the overall project goals, assigns tasks to individuals and organizations, determines the resources required, coordinates communication among team members, and reviews relevant information.
The execution phase comprises all activities that are necessary to complete the project on time and within budget. The monitoring and control phase is used to ensure that the objectives of a project have been met, while the closing phase completes and documents the project.

There are many different types of projects, including:

  1. Development projects involve creating a new product or service.
  1. Maintenance projects involve maintaining an existing product or service.
  1. Project management for construction involves organizing, managing and overseeing tasks related to the design, procurement, delivery and installation of physical infrastructure (e.g., buildings).
  1. Project management for information technology (IT)- related projects includes planning, organizing and leading the implementation of information systems.

Projects can be categorized according to their objectives:

  1. Transformational projects are intended to change an organization or create a new product or service.
  1. Operationalizing projects are meant to improve current products and services.
  1. Optimization projects focus on maximizing efficiency and effectiveness within an organization or industry sector, without necessarily altering its structure or operations.

PM Methodologies

The project management methodologies described below are the most widely used in the industry. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to choose one that will fit your specific project needs.
OODPM (Objectives, Opportunities, Determinants, Measures) is a process-based methodology that helps identify mission objectives, goals and priorities and then establishes optimal measures to achieve these objectives.
Some of the popular methodologies are:
1) Project Management Process (PMP) is a standards-based, process-based methodology that was developed in the 1980s by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
2) Critical Path Methodology (CPM), which was first published in 1958 and is based on priority theory, determines how much work can be completed within a set timeframe and defines various measures of performance.
3) Unified Processes Group’s (UPG’s) Project Management Process (PMP) is a framework for organizing, managing and delivering projects.
4) Scrum is an agile methodology that allows teams to plan, track and deliver products within short time frames while satisfying customer needs.
5) PMI-ACP® certification provides assurance that project managers have the knowledge and skills necessary to manage effectively complex projects.
6) Six Sigma is a quality methodology that focuses on reducing variation in outputs and achieving target levels of quality.
There are many other popular project management methodologies, but these are some of the most commonly used.

How to manage a project

There are a few steps that managers should take when managing a project:

Initiation:

Starting a project is only the beginning – managers must take the appropriate steps to ensure that the project reaches its objectives. This includes identifying what needs to be done and organizing team members accordingly, as well as setting realistic deadlines.

Execution:

Managers must vigilantly oversee the execution of every step of the project in order to prevent any potential issues from arising. By regularly issuing status updates, they can keep stakeholders informed about
the project's progress.

Monitoring and Closing:

Closing a project is always bittersweet – however, it's important for managers to make sure that their team has met all the objectives set during the initiation phase. By performing regular reviews, they can ensure that the final product meets customer expectations.

What are project management best practices?

There is no one definitive answer to this question as different organizations have different expectations for project management best practices. However, some general principles that are generally observed in successful projects include the following:

Establish project scope and objectives

Project managers must carefully define the project's objectives and scope before beginning work. This will help ensure that all tasks are properly planned and executed, as well as that no additional resources are wasted on tasks that are not relevant to the overall objective of the project.

Plan, track and manage deadlines

Deadlines can be an important tool for measuring progress and ensuring compliance with legislative or contractual requirements. Appropriate planning ensures that project milestones are met on time, while effective tracking and management can provide an overview of the entire project and allow for timely corrective action when needed.

Set appropriate team structures and leadership styles

Selecting the right team members and leadership style is essential to successful project management. Members who are able to provide dedicated attention to detail, take total responsibility for their work area' s success or fail, and remain open to change are all critical attributes in a successful project manager.

Communicate with stakeholders and clients regularly

Project managers must continually communicate project status and objectives to the relevant stakeholders, estimate completion dates, provide updates on changes that may affect the project's timeline, and resolve any issues as they arise.
Many other factors can impact the success of a project, such as effective problem solving and organizational skills.

Maintain a schedule and cadence

Keeping a schedule and cadence for all activities can help to ensure that projects are completed on time, on budget, and with the required quality.

Create an effective team culture

A successful project team must come together and operate as a cohesive unit. This involves establishing clear expectations, developing strong communication skills, and fostering mutual respect among members.

Closely monitor your project for any flaws

Project managers must vigilantly monitor their projects for any problems that may arise, and take appropriate action to correct them as soon as possible. In order to maintain a high level of project success, it is essential for project managers to be constantly monitor the flaws and ready to act in the event that something goes wrong.

Track everything related to the project

Keeping track of all the relevant data is an essential part of ensuring that a project is completed on time, on budget, and with the required quality. With this information at hand, project managers can make informed decisions about future course corrections or changes to the project's objectives.

Communicate effectively

Effective communication is key to ensuring that all members of a project team understand the goals and objectives of the project, as well as any changes or updates that may occur. In order to effectively communicate with others, project managers must have strong writing skills and be adept at delegation.

Facilitate cooperation among team members

Cooperation is essential for successful projects. To facilitate cooperation, project managers should foster a positive atmosphere in which everyone involved feels comfortable working together. Additionally, project managers should provide clear and concise instructions, and be available to answer any questions team members may have.

Create a risk response team

A risk response team is a group of individuals who are responsible for monitoring and responding to potential risks related to a project. By having a dedicated team in place, project managers can ensure that any potential dangers or problems with the project are quickly identified and solved.

Make sound decisions based on accurate information

Making sound decisions requires access to reliable data. In order to ensure accuracy, project managers should track all relevant statistics regarding the project's progress and objectives. Additionally, they should regularly communicate with team members to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of changes and updates.

Ensure proper documentation

Good documentation is essential for keeping track of project progress and troubleshooting future issues. By thoroughly documenting every step of the project process, managers can ensure that everyone involved in the project has a clear understanding of what transpired.

Ensure transparency in the project

Transparency is key to building trust and rapport among team members. By being open and honest about project progress, stakeholders can better understand the goals of the project, as well as any risks or issues that may be encountered.

Avoid adding unrealistic milestones

Setting overly ambitious milestones can lead to project overruns and frustrated stakeholders. Instead, make sure to set Goals that are achievable based on the current timeline and resources available.
Without a well-organized plan, it's nearly impossible for team members to stay on track. By creating a clear chain of command and regularly issuing status updates, managers can keep everyone informed about the progress of the project.

Review and reflect on the performance

As the project progresses, it's important for managers to regularly reflect on their team's performance. This can help them identify areas of improvement and assess how well the team is meeting its objectives. Additionally, managers should periodically review the final product to ensure that it meets customer expectations.

Closing thoughts

Project management is a critical component of any business. By following these tips, managers can ensure that their projects are successful and meet the expectations of all stakeholders.
Managing a project successfully requires effective planning, clear goals and objectives, insightful communication, dedicated team members with the right skillset and culture, effective problem solving skills and organizational agility. With these essential tools in hand, any organization can manage projects effectively.