Everything you need to know about project management
Most businesses work on projects as well as undertaking their normal, everyday business. Buying and selling your products or services might be your underlying business model, but as well as this your organization will be working on distinct projects. These will work to achieve a planned objective that can be considered as unique. Projects can be a one-off event but could also be part of a series or occur regularly on a similar basis: for example, you may have related projects for different clients but even if the underlying premise is the same, they will all be unique in some way. There is a start and an end to a project, unlike a company’s ongoing business.
Projects can be defined in terms of the output, the outcome, or the benefits delivered. They can be measured according to set objectives that should be laid out in advance. There should be an agreed timescale and budget. Time, cost, and quality are all fundamental drivers of a project, and they all need to be monitored carefully for overall success.
If you are running projects within your business, you need to be sure you are getting the most out of your project teams. The quality of your project management and the tools and techniques you use will help to determine the success of your project.
Wasted time in team meetings with no clear agenda or proper time management, poor teamwork, or lack of effective communication and coordination will put your projects at risk. If you have a business opportunity and are able to meet it, you need to find the methods that best suit you for good project management.
What is project management?
Project management is, as the name suggests, the process of managing a project. A project, as we know, is a distinct piece of work and should be set up with the intention of achieving a specific objective. Extensive planning and organization will be required to ensure that any project is carried out with the stated objective in mind. Projects will also be set up with a defined timeline and a set budget that need to be adhered to. Project management provides a framework that involves managing people, resources, and time.
Before you can begin a project, you will first need to identify its goals, define the tasks that will be necessary, and determine what resources will be required to complete it. There should be a plan for how project tasks will be executed and monitored. Project managers will also need to know how they will identify and manage risks during the lifetime of the project, to ensure that it will be completed within the set timescale without going over budget.
Effective project management requires strong leadership, good communication and collaboration skills, and the right resources. Project team members need to know exactly what their roles and responsibilities are and that the team they are part of is working together towards a common goal. Project managers will need to ensure that team members have the necessary resources and support they need to complete their tasks effectively, to time, and within the agreed constraints.
Who needs project management?
If you are running teams and projects you need a way to ensure that both the teams and the projects are delivering to their potential. There is no point in creating a project expecting an amazing outcome if there is no way to manage and monitor it. If you do not have a plan or the resources to drive it forward in a way that gets the best out of your project team, it is unlikely to achieve as much as it could.
Why has project management changed over the years?
If you think about it, we have always ‘managed projects’ to a certain extent. The wonders of the world like the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids did not build themselves! However, the principles and practices of project management have evolved over time, as things have changed in the world.
Eventually, industrialization and the need to work on a larger scale as well as advances in technology have contributed to changes in how we think and work. Project management is now an essential discipline, even in smaller companies. It can be applied to many situations and has become increasingly popular and relevant.
Projects are becoming larger and more complex all the time. The world is ever more connected. Since the pandemic we have become used to meeting and working virtually. Projects can easily become multinational, spanning time zones and languages.
With an increasing number of complicated and interdisciplinary projects come multiple teams, departments, or organizations all working on their part of the whole. Increased competition in the business world along with economic conditions mean that setting and meeting deadlines and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget is paramount.
Resources need to be managed more effectively to minimize waste. We no longer live in world where companies can ‘afford’ to waste money or are unaware of how much things are really costing them. Project management offers a systematic way to manage resources like time, money, and personnel, and to monitor how efficiently and effectively they are being used. Businesses are becoming much more proactive than reactive, and every penny counts.
When can project management help with challenges in business today?
It’s not just large, multinational companies running huge projects that benefit from the principles of project management. The Covid-19 pandemic meant we moved rapidly to a new business structure of remote and hybrid working, and it is here to stay.
Project team members may never work together in person, and even if they do, they may be working asynchronously. Project management methodologies can be applied to everyday meetings and teamwork as well as unique projects to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working to the same goals and deadlines.
There is huge need for organizations and employees alike to be much more flexible and adaptable. There are various project management methodologies that emphasize flexibility and adaptability, and these are increasingly important in today's rapidly changing business landscape. These methodologies allow teams to quickly adjust to changes in project requirements and ensure that they are delivering value to the customer.
What are some examples of project management methodologies?
There are various ways to approach project management and the most appropriate model will depend on the needs and circumstances of the individual project. They include methodologies such as:
- Six Sigma
- Waterfall, etc.
There are also different ways of approaching aspects of projects with names like Scrum, Critical Path, and Kanban. It might sound like another language, but they are tried and tested project management techniques that can help project teams and managers.
Agile project management
Agile project management uses various tools and approaches and is an iterative method. It originated in software development when it became clear that developers needed to produce and release things more quickly, so that they were not already outdated by the time they appeared on the market.
Agile project management focuses on three main concepts:
- Iterative development
- Efficient communication
- Focus on quality
Iterative development gives teams their work broken down into small, manageable chunks. This is intended to minimize risk and it also allows for flexibility in the development process.
Agile project managers communicate directly with the project team, which means they are more in touch with how work is progressing in relation to deadlines, costs, and so on. They can use their skills to enable teams to become more efficient and effective and minimize any obstacles that might reduce their ability to deliver on the project.
Quality is also a significant part of the Agile project management methodology, and project managers will identify the right tools and techniques their project team will need to achieve maximum success.
Lean project management
Lean project management was originally developed to optimize manufacturing processes. Lean project managers use several tools designed to help them prioritize and manage work, such as:
- Value stream mapping
- A3 thinking
- Kanban, etc.
Value stream mapping is a tool that Toyota developed to define and optimize the various steps involved in getting projects from their start to their finish. It can help identify inefficiencies and offers process visualisation and lead time reduction.
A3 thinking is a structured problem-solving approach that aims for continuous improvement, and Kanban helps teams visualize, prioritize, and improve their work using visual information.
Where are the best resources for project management?
There are many valuable online tools that teams can use for project management. They can aid with teamwork and collaboration, as well as for time tracking, visual management, note-making, and troubleshooting, amongst other things.
Online whiteboards provide the perfect centralized hub for a project. You can keep all documents relating to a project in one place, assign and manage tasks, work synchronously or asynchronously, and use the online tools to plan and manage, as well as to spark creativity.
The right virtual whiteboard will give you a centralized location for all the information there is relating to your project. It can serve as a center for information, task management, and communication, as well as being used to track progress, monitor budgets, and identify any potential issues. An integral part of the Kanban process as well as other project management methodologies, an online whiteboard can be used in the workplace and in meetings to help project managers and their teams.
Team members can contribute equally and collaborate whether they are in the same room, all based remotely, or a combination of the two. Virtual whiteboards work with other tools used in project management and the design thinking process, and this can help people approach problems in a structured and iterative manner.
There are templates and techniques and other visual tools that can help teams understand needs, motivations, and pain points. They can be used to gather insights and identify areas for improvement.
Brainstorming encourages creativity and collaboration and can help to generate innovative solutions. Planning, problem-solving, and using project management techniques like Kanban, A3, matrices, and so on in a way that engages team leaders and members will encourage everyone to work better together and improve your project’s chances of success.
Everyday collaborative tools for project management
Whether you want to brainstorm ideas for your latest project or use an icebreaker to ensure your project team is bonding and working well together, a visual whiteboard can help. Using a readymade template for any of the techniques, methods, and processes involved in project management will save time and effort, as well as allowing you to replicate the process whenever you need to.
Helping your teams work to deadlines and in a more focused and proactive way by using the functionalities for time management and task assignment will help ensure that everyone is on the same page. Identifying risks and opportunities early is a key part of effective project management.
How can project managers support their teams with project management?
You do not always need a formal, extensive project to take a structured approach: you can apply project management techniques and software to other aspects of your work too. Whether you are in a workshop or a meeting, teamwork and collaboration can be improved with an online whiteboard and all its associated tools. Make your project management team more efficient by giving them the tools they need. Why not check out our resources?
As a dedicated provider of visual tools designed to facilitate and optimize modern teamwork, we offer resources to help your project teams think, collaborate, and drive projects forward in a simple but highly productive manner. Good project management does not have to be complicated but effective and efficient teamwork is key.