Organizations are evolving rapidly in this ever-growing business environment. And to gain a competitive edge over others, one needs to have effective project planning and management directives in place.
Virtually, each and every organization undertakes projects and executes various planning and management methodologies to make them successful. Right project management fundamentals can really make or break your projects, as they provide the baseline and frameworks to scope projects, utilize resources, streamline workflows and mitigate risks.
What is Project Management?
Before we get into project management fundamentals, let us first understand what a project is. Project is a “temporary endeavor initiated with an aim to build a unique result or product or service”. It is unique, non-repetitive, and is defined by project constraints- a budget, a crystal-clear scope and a set of requirements to be met.
Project Management is defined as the management of a project’s budget, scope, and schedule in order to make it successful and eventually satisfy the needs of the stakeholders.
The three fundamental areas cited are:
Culture: initiatives taken to create a mindset for optimal project management.
Talent: focus on talent management, formal knowledge sharing, and apt training of staff
Process: establish and implement best business-standard practices and processes to support project management
For consistent improvement in project planning, one needs to refer back to the fundamentals.
What are the fundamentals of Project Planning and Management?
Projects have a defined start and concluding date. The main objective of a project is to produce a unique product or service or a result. A typical project will have four roles as stated below:
- Project Sponsor: The role of a Project Sponsor is slightly above a project manager and their job is to deal with the funding, resources, and support for the specific project. The person has a key role in the project's success. A project sponsor can either be internal or external to the enterprise.
- Project Manager: This person looks after the project team along with the day-to-day administration of the project. A project manager is directly responsible for the project’s success. For larger projects, organizations can have a team for project management
- Project Team: The team or a person handles the technical work related to the project and reports frequently to the project manager
- Stakeholders: the group of people who are directly or indirectly affected by the project and its outcome is known as stakeholders. These can include investors, sponsors, government regulators, customers, top management teams, and so on.
A project generally goes through five phases, as follows:
1.Initiative: The initial phase involves tasks of funding, defining, and authorizing the project and its objective. This step is carried out at an organizational level, where the business requirements of a project to be achieved are defined.
2.Planning: The project management team defines each and every step in a project, how it will be executed, who will do what, how long will it take to carry out a step, and so on. The planning phase plays a vital role in defining the project in-depth so that the expectations of stakeholders are understood well.
3.Execution: The project workflows are executed and completed. The end result is met, while the expectations of secondary stakeholders are recognized and satisfied.
4.Monitor and control: Alongside the execution phase, the project management team monitors and controls different aspects of a project- right from stakeholder requirements, costs, resources, status updates, project change documentation, schedule, variance analysis, etc.
5.Closing: Final reporting as the end result is achieved and the project is concluded.
The above-mentioned phases are also referred to as process groups, as every phase comprises a set of actions, decisions, and processes that are unique to that group.
Within the five phases of the project, there are myriads of knowledge areas that you need to focus on. You will recognize these knowledge areas as you proceed with the project. They are as follows:
- Project Integration Management: This includes all the components that do not fit well in other categories. It can include project changes, developing project management plans, etc.
- Project Scope Management: Scope is the first step of setting your objectives and goals. It should be defined during the planning phase of the project management plan itself. Plus, the changes should also be mentioned clearly.
- Project Cost Management: Estimating the costs of the project, along with its monitoring and controlling throughout.
- Project Time Management: Set up, monitor, and enforce the project’s schedule, milestones, and deadlines.
- Quality Management: Defining quality standards across the project and monitoring quality throughout.
- Stakeholder Management: Identifying each stakeholder and satisfying their requirements
- Stakeholder Communication Management: Communicating with stakeholders, recognizing their needs, and making sure they are involved as per their power and interest level
- HR Management: Defining the “people” requirements in a project, hiring them, and training them to make sure they help the organization achieve the desired result
- Project Risk Management: Identifying the risks/bottlenecks and finding ways to mitigate them
- Project Procurement Management: Acquiring professional consultants and contractors that will handle procurements and make sure the job gets done.
How Project Management Fundamentals Help Your Businesses Through Tough Times?
A strategic project management plan allows project managers and project management teams to have a streamlined workflow, where each and every step in a process is well-defined. Going back to the fundamentals will help you focus on individual sections of a project and manage them thoroughly.
With project management fundamentals, the project manager will get a clear-cut direction to walk through the project, aiding them in the decision-making process. Besides, it gets easier for them to manage stakeholders if the project is well-strategized.
All stakeholders involved must understand how you will execute and manage the project. In case of project changes, the project management plan must also be modified by the same token.
There is a difference between simply finishing a project, and finishing it successfully. You cannot complete a project successfully unless you employ effective project management fundamentals.
Here are six ways how project management fundamentals can help you through tough times:
1.Realistic planning: Project planning and management are often exaggerated. Many times, organizations seem to underestimate the expenses and overestimate the outcomes, thereby leading to failure. Right project management fundamentals take the bigger picture into consideration and set realistic budgets, goals, and schedules. Without it, projects can go off track real quick. To set achievable goals, the project manager outlines a precise plan for the project, whilst striking the right balance between priorities such as budget and time constraints. This step encompasses resource management, cost evaluation, and risk assessment.
2.Clear objectives: Lack of clarity can really create bottlenecks in the project pipeline along with missed deadlines and reckless spending. Project management fundamentals help you prioritize workflows and define objectives clearly without unnecessary muddling. Without the basics, teams may oversee task breakdowns and , thereby overlooking potential risks involved. Good project planning management will help you keep an eye on all segments and related tasks.
3.Align with business strategy: Project management fundamentals can effectively align your projects and their milestones with business strategy. Improper project planning can create risks and lead to failure in delivering a good business strategy. Whereas, project management fundamentals drive your organizational strategy, helping you grow at scale.
4.Managed process: Project management fundamentals help you with proactive planning right from the beginning to mitigate known risks and set the right project parameters. It promotes the right actions by the right people at the right time. It breaks down the project into clear tasks, schedules, and milestones to direct project teams more efficiently and respond to problems with better agility.
5.Quality control: Just like time and budget, project management fundamentals will help you focus on quality standards as well to make it successful altogether. Quality directives, it eliminates rushed work and low-quality executions.