Project Management Basics
Project management basics are the fundamentals of using established principles, procedures, and policies to successfully guide a project from conception through completion. Often abbreviated as PM, project management requires the application of those principles and procedures as well as tools and technologies to ensure that a project can be completed in a way that meets all articulated outcomes, from spending limits to end-goal objectives.
The project management basics include creating a project management plan which will effectively and efficiently guide all aspects of a project from start to finish, with the ideal goal of delivering the outcome on time and on budget.
A project plan often begins with a project charter or simply project goals, and it is expected to identify potential challenges in advance. Risk management is needed to anticipate and handle any roadblocks or surprises that arise so that the project keeps on schedule.
Project management commonly involves overseeing teams from multiple functional areas within an organization as well as overseeing teams and workers from multiple organizations who are expected to work together for part or all of the project’s duration to reach the common goal, thus there is need to be able to communicate effectively across many disciplines and inspire unity of action among many workers in order to deliver a successful project.
Project management process
There is no single way to run all projects. You’ll find that most organizations spend a lot of time making mistakes and adjusting their process in order to get it just right, only to find that when they thought it was “just right” it needed to be tweaked again. Factors like changing business needs and goals, new or different staff and expertise, evolving or new technology are often among reasons why processes have to change. But what’s most important is that an organization or team has a basic framework for how projects operate. As you research project management basics across different project management processes, you will find that most models identify three basic phases (with varying names, tasks, and deliverables) to organize activities:
Project Management Basics Process Step 1-Research, discovery, and planning
Typically, an organization will perform some level of research to determine the validity of a project. This could take the form of market research, user research, competitive analyses, among many other activities. These are the critical steps in the project that help to define goals and requirements for what needs to be designed or built. This is also when a project team can come together to define how they will work together, and what their execution plan will be, taking all outside factors into consideration.
Once the project is planned, it’s time to execute. The project management basics step called execution can play out in several different ways, using different processes like waterfall, agile, or variants therein. Essentially what you will find in this phase is time for collaboration, creation, review, and iteration. Teams will partner with stakeholder groups to present work, accept feedback, and complete deliverables that are mutually agreed upon, leading up to a final deliverable. This happens to be the phase that is riddled with change, delays, and sometimes even dispute. For that reason, it happens to be the phase where the PM is most active.
Step 3-Testing, measuring, iterating
After a project has launched, it’s time to make sure it’s tracking well against its goals. In an agile project, a minimum viable product (or MVP) will be launched to gain early feedback to iterate. On waterfall projects, the feature-complete product will be launched and tested. In either case, test results will reveal what is and is not working for users and stakeholders. Teams will take test results and alter—or build on—the product to create something that is closer to those goals. This is natural for agile projects, but not so much for waterfall projects, which would require a new or “Phase 2” project to be added on.
There is no right or wrong way to roll out a process. What’s most important is that the process matches the values and talent of the organization. It will become quite evident if the process is not a right fit for a team, because people will be unhappy and work will not get done without issues. The best thing you can do when it comes to process is to sit down with your team to discuss what will work best and why. Document decisions, roll out a process, and be open to discussing it and changing it when needed. Keep the 3 project management basics steps above in the back of your mind for an overall framework to operate by, and do what feels right for your project and your team.
Benefits of project management
There are so many intangible tasks and qualities of project managers that it’s not uncommon for people to not fully understand their worth. The benefits of any role seem to come down to perception, but a bulk of a PM’s work is “behind the scenes,” so how can you demonstrate the benefits? First, it starts with the individual. Each and every PM should know their role and their worth and follow-through on being a good PM for their teams. Second, it comes down to the organization. A PM will not thrive in an organization that does not value the role and see the benefits of it. And, lastly, the benefit of having a PM on a team is realized by the people who work with them. If they are not bought in, the PM will have a hard time helping.
Some people see the benefits of having a PM on a team, and others don’t. And that is okay—sometimes just having someone on a smaller team to handle logistics and communications is enough. That’s right, you don’t always need a PM, but you do need someone who will handle PM tasks. If simply stating that managing tasks and communications can provide more time to team members to collaborate and create isn’t enough to sell you on the value of PM
There are surely many more benefits to project management, like the hard facts and details you get out of typical PM reports and deliverables: transparency on budget and timeline, accountability for tasks, and so on. Those tend to be the project management basics things people think about when they hear “project management,” and they are absolutely great benefits.
PMP certification (Project management professional) is a credential awarded by the project management institute USA (PMI) and its not a basic credential of project management. The project management basics credential awarded by PMI is called certified associate in project management. The project management certification awarded by other institutes like Axelos UK, American Academy of project management has basic, intermediate, and advanced certifications.JK Michaels on of the leading project management training center in Lagos Nigeria offers PMP training among several other certifications.PMP certification requires a certain number of prerequisites before even taking the exam to qualify. Those prerequisites change based on your level of education, and are as follows:
- Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
- Five years of project management experience
- 7,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
- Four-year degree
- Three years of project management experience
- 4,500 hours experience leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
The PMP certification is acquired by taking an exam with questions based largely on the most recent version of the PMBOK Guide(Project Management Body of Knowledge®), as well as project management knowledge based on experience.
It is considered by most to be a fairly difficult exam, and many find that taking a course to prepare for the exam is the best way to ensure passing.
- 200 multiple-choice questions
- 25 of the 200 questions are sample items used for research purposes and are not counted toward the final score
- A 4 hour time limit in which to complete the exam
- Cost: $405 for members, $555 for non-members
- Closed book: no reference materials are allowed
- Content based on processes from five domains – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing