They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a new skill – and project management definitely falls into the “practice makes perfect” category.
Mastering project management fundamentals takes time due to how detailed every project is and how each one will have individual needs in order for it to be completed successfully.
Whether you’re a seasoned manager or someone working on mastering the skills, it’s important to review the basics and reflect on how you can best facilitate your employees through each project.
What is Project Management?
Project management is any oversight that a project receives from the time it is outlined to when it is implemented and ultimately finalized.
As you could probably guess, that means that the job of a project manager is always ongoing and requires a lot of attention.
Though there are many project management principles, the main purpose is to create a project plan that includes the procedures and processes necessary to get the job done.
As a project manager, you will be initiating, planning, delegating, and monitoring projects to make sure that teammates are collaborating and following the right procedures to move on to the next step.
Is Project Management Something You Can Automate?
We always recommend that managers use their skills and experience to work with tools, rather than relying completely on built-in functionality.
Getting hands-on experience and frequent updates while managing a project is key to keeping up with progress, supporting your team, and reducing the likelihood of risks along the way.
When you are looking to automate parts of your management responsibilities, make sure that you are designing the workflow to save you time and supplement your work rather than replacing it as a whole.
To stay up to date about how the project is progressing, create dependencies between tasks that support teamwork and that you schedule time in your day to review everything.
The Main Project Management Principles
Let’s get into the main principles that make up project management and what responsibilities each aspect entails.
Defining the Project
When you are going through all the project management fundamentals, the first step you’ll have to go through is actually defining the project itself. This means understanding the purpose, the goals, and the necessary steps that will lead your team toward finishing the project to a high standard.
To master this main principle, you will have to develop a clear understanding of the project along with the processes and procedures that accompany it. Presenting this information clearly to your team will help you move along to the next phase of the project.
As we discussed in a previous blog, every project has associated risks. That’s why one marker of good project management is whether or not a risk analysis has been conducted.
By checking risk management off of your to-do list, your team is assured to have more structure and stability while they are getting the work done.
If a problem arises, it has already been anticipated and can be handled appropriately.
Creating the Timeline
Part of managing a plan is setting clear project milestones and making sure they stays within a reasonable timeline. Though setbacks can happen, these delays should have been accounted for during the risk management phase.
Think about it this way: the longer a project takes to complete, the more budget must be dedicated to completing it. Make sure each project’s timeline is realistic and gives your team plenty of time to recover and continue with their tasks.
Once a project is underway, it’s important to continue to monitor progress. Whether this is part of a daily check-in that you have created a repeating task for, or a report that your teams must present once a week, make sure you’re involved in each process.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to monitor your team. Finding the right balance between checking in a little too frequently and being too absent is difficult.
Ask your team members to participate in checking the overall progress of the project, and be open to adjusting your communication style to better fulfill their needs.
Setting Communication Standards
Part of project management is being able to manage your team. Setting high standards for communication can help you make sure that everything is going as planned.
If your team has open lines of communication, you can also experience a boost in employee productivity as a result of team members clearly knowing their personal milestones and how to accomplish them.
Good communication is one of the main pillars to a well-done project.
The Project Management Institute deemed communication the “life’s blood to project management because of how important it is to keeping a project on track in the face of delays, questions, complications, and risks.
It’s rare for someone to get something completely right on their first try – and this is true for even the best professionals out there. If something is ready for review directly after it’s been completed, it’s still likely that improvements could be made.
That’s why quality assurance is another major part of project management. With regular check-ins and a comprehensive understanding of the project’s needs, you will be able to push your team to create a great product that was executed to a high quality.
Changes suggested during quality assurance checks can be as simple as fixing a typo or as complicated as starting over on a certain design. But, with great communication and clarity, many major changes can be caught early and managed effectively.
Updating the Plan as Needed
By this point in the project management process, you probably have a good plan in place for how things will get done. But what happens if a scenario from your risk analysis has become a reality?
Being flexible is a must for project managers. If you keep a close eye on the project’s progression, you’ll be able to quickly update the plan and take an alternate direction to complete the project as planned.
The longer a project takes to complete, the more it’s likely to run over the budget. If something goes wrong, you’ll want to make sure that your response time is as fast as possible so that you can avoid lengthening the project’s timeline. This is why staying up to date with the details of a project is so important.
If everything is managed effectively, your team will thank you for your efforts and appreciate the work that went into preventing further complications.
The final major principle of project management is the ability to manage.
As a project manager, you will have to view the project at a macro and micro level. Your responsibilities will require that you work closely with your team and look at the broader picture to see how well the project is functioning as a whole.
Make sure you are matching tasks to the person with the best skills to work effectively and quickly.
Set up collaborations with the departments that should be working together, and encourage frequent check-ins on a public space like your project’s tasks so that team-to-team communication can also remain open.
If you notice that someone is struggling, or that someone isn’t the right fit, you should be able to step in to support and teach them or redelegate tasks so that everyone is set up for success.
How You Can Easily Understand Project Management Fundamentals and Fit it into a Company Framework
The fundamentals of project management cover a wide variety of responsibilities.
Project managers must balance the scope, the timeline, the risks, the quality, and the team that’s executing on each part of the project.
Creating a framework that reinforces the main project management principles can give you and your team the freedom you need to innovate and keep things running smoothly.
On a grander scale, effective project management means being able to apply those principles and processes into a framework that is able to reinforce a smooth-running company.
There should be open communication along the way to maintain high quality management and to involve the right people at the right time.
If the project manager makes the best use of their resources and knowledge, every team can be supported by a system built for success.