What is project management from a practice perspective? Have you found a clear answer? This article reviews what is project management, its definition, real-world examples, and tools that you can benefit from to streamline your business processes. Furthermore, to know about #projectmanagement, we need to know also what is a Project, Resource Planning, Task, Activity, and Project management tools or software.
First of all, What’s project management?
Let’s start with the formal definition of project management which is given by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a dedicated organization to study project management. They have defined the project management as “... application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” (PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition, 2013). The same source suggests that PM processes can be grouped into five categories: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Project management has been defined also as a broad term that covers all aspects of a project from initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of an organization’s team to achieve specific objectives and success criteria, at a particular time, as described in Wikipedia.org.
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
Peter F. Drucker
Project Management: What’s a project?
A project has been defined by project management institute (PMI) as “Temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a unique product, service, or result.” Therefore, the first thing one needs to know is what they are producing? The nature of the work also needs to be temporary, meaning that a life-long project, is not a project anymore. In practice, smaller projects vary from few hours to a couple of months, while the longer projects can expand to a couple of years.
Based on the projects that have been accomplished in our free project management to called “Taimer project management platform”, we have seen that most projects’ timespans are actually in less than a year, with the majority of them being done in even less than six months period. Example of a simple project can be designing & developing an e-commerce website for a client focusing on selling home furniture in a timeframe of three months. In this example, we have defined the objective “going live by end of the project” and the product as an e-commerce website that sells furniture, and the timeframe to three months.
Project Management: Who is project manager?
As the name suggests, the project manager is a person whose main role is to MANAGE the project. More specifically, a project manager has certain responsibilities and success of a project depends on the project manager’s capability to perform his role well.
The main responsibilities of a project manager can include defining achievable project objectives, determining the necessary steps or milestones that must be accomplished to achieve the objectives, and defining the resources at hand. About the resource planning, we will discuss more in the next section. Lastly, the project manager is also responsible to verify proper execution of the work to make sure the deliverables or outputs have been finished on time and budget. A shocking factor is that only about 40% of total projects on average finish on-time and budget.
“ Average Project Success Rates is 39%, challenged projects 43%, and failed projects 18%.”
Project Management: What is resource planning?
In simple form, a resource can be budget, time, tool, manpower/employee, or anything else that can help the team to achieve its objectives. A project manager must define project activities, resource estimates, and assign the resources properly and evenly to avoid miss-utility or exhausting resources.
Resource management software can help the project managers to visually find or organize the resources they have, and their utilization rate. Then, the project manager can assign resources to activities or tasks. An example is when a project manager assigns an employee six working hours to finish a task and monitors whether the task has been done in the timeframe using a project management tool capable of resource planning. For example, the following figure illustrates how resources in Taimer’s resource planning platform are shown.
Project Management: What are tasks & activities?
In project management, a task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a defined period of time (or by a deadline) on a work towards work-related goals. Tasks can be independent, coupled with other tasks, or even be repetitive depending on the nature of a given task. Further, tasks can be assigned to resources by the project manager of the team. There are two main mechanisms for assigning tasks and activities: Push and Pull. In push mechanism, the tasks are pushed to resources evenly. Nonetheless, pushing tasks is automatically done based on certain algorithms, whereas in the pull, the tasks are selected and pulled by the resources themselves. Both mechanisms have their own cons and pros that are out of the scope of this article and also combinatory mechanisms are also implemented in many resource planning platforms.
As an example, in Taimer, activities are steps or actions that are done on a given task. if we take our previous sample project of developing an e-commerce website, then we may have a task as designing the website as a task. Then, this task might have a specific deadline that can be assigned to a resource such as a team member that has design skills. Furthermore, the project manager can track or monitor activities that have been done on this task by the team member, get status updates, and follow up if needed.
Take away: What is project management in practice?
So, now that we have explained all the ingredients, we have to have a better understanding of the project management in practice. We believe that the project management is a combination of art and science to find the right balance between cost, quality, and time. The project manager has to be equipped with technical and knowhow on how to set achievable goals and milestones, evaluate and assign resources as accurately as possible. In addition, she has to monitor the project’s resource utilization, track the progress of the projects on the fly, and adjust as fast as needed until the project goal is achieved. To accomplish these humanly complex processes, usually (maybe even definitely) project managers utilize some sort of project management tools or platforms in practice. These tools help in streamlining business processes, and lessens the challenges and guess works. The more automation, measurements, calculations, reporting, and analysis these project management tools provide from CRM, resource planning, team collaborations, to post-mortem analysis the better and smarter the projects can be managed. There is a wise saying that what can’t be measured, can’t be managed, and the project management is not an exception! In coming blogs, we will continue by describing different phases of project management from initiation or prospecting to submitting the deliverables. Subscribe to our social channels on Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter and be the first one to read them!
"Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet."
Taimer project management software
We might be biased towards the Taimer platform, but we believe Taimer has done something that no other product in the market has done it before. Taimer provides all the following features in one unified platform: CRM and contact management, real-time visibility into project schedules, financials, trends, automated project messenger, activities & memos, time tracking, resource planning, expense management, project invoicing, unlimited attachments, and real-time follow-ups, to name few.
"I recommend Taimer to others, especially to those who need project management tools. Taimer is suitable for several business types and has features for various business needs."
Siliä Oy COO, Tiia Hamro-Drotz
Taimer in 75 seconds: CRM, Invoicing, Project & Sales Management
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We love to hear from you too! Do you find this article useful? What other project management systems have you used if any? And why have you chosen them? Please, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback leave a comment below or get in touch with us. And, let us know which topics you would like us to write about!