The systematic approach to achieving project goals within predetermined parameters is known as project management. Project managers follow a set of principles that direct them and their team through a project life cycle in order to guarantee precise, timely, and economical completion. Understanding these concepts can help you establish yourself as an effective leader who can achieve outcomes, whether you are currently managing projects or you are aspiring to a position as a project manager.
Core Principles of project management
While each project will undoubtedly have its own set of requirements and difficulties, all projects have a similar life cycle and can benefit from the application of fundamental ideas—ideas that can help you become a more capable, results-driven leader. The following are the fundamental guidelines for project management:
Define the project structure
The project’s structure serves as an overview of its key components. Before you start working on a project, determine its structure so that you can carefully plan all of its specifics. When developing the project structure, the following three things must be specified:
- Budget: Your available funds for the project are shown by the budget.
- Schedule: The term “schedule” refers to both the timetable (the amount of time you and your team have to finish the project) and the order in which those activities will take place.
- Milestones: A deliverable that is due at a specific time on the schedule is referred to as a project milestone. Each milestone serves as a gauge and confirmation of development.
Specify clear project objectives
The objectives and effects that a project hopes to achieve are referred to as its goals. It is simpler to assess a project’s performance if you have clear, defined goals. Use the SMART criteria to make sure that every objective you create for your project is precise, measurable, attainable, pertinent, and time-based.
Use the appropriate tools
Make sure the team has the tools necessary to achieve its goals before beginning a project. For the most part, this entails providing yourself and your team with the proper equipment, such as the proper project management or communication software. Ask the stakeholders in your project for their advice on what capabilities they may need to operate well and analyze similar previous projects to determine which tools were helpful for those teams. You may promote effective, timely production by putting the appropriate capabilities in place right from the beginning of the project.
Make responsibilities and expectations clear
The sharing of each team member’s position and your expectations for them is a crucial project management principle. Everyone involved in the project should have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, why it has to be done, how to do it well, and when it needs to be finished. You can make sure that everyone on your team is aware of the deliverables they are accountable for and how their efforts affect the project’s outcome by clearly communicating your expectations to them before the project even begins.
Hold the group responsible
Accountability means making sure each employee completes the work they have been given. It is crucial for the project manager to hold the other team members and each team member accountable because doing so increases the likelihood that everyone will complete their work diligently and on schedule.
Regular communication is a fantastic strategy to increase accountability. As the project manager, follow up with your team to gauge their progress and determine whether they require anything. Encourage team members to speak with one another as well because doing so can inspire them to share ideas and resources.
Respond to inquiries quickly
Asking questions is crucial to completing a project successfully. At every stage of the project life cycle, your team members might have questions for you, and you yourself might have questions for the stakeholders. Find an answer as soon as a query pops up. Early consideration of these issues helps to both explain the project’s objectives and reduces the possibility of errors brought on by ambiguity or misunderstanding.
A prompt and polite response to a query can help inspire team members to take responsibility for their work. A junior might, for instance, ask a question regarding the project that you might not have thought to ask. Recognizing the team member’s ingenuity and answering their query demonstrates your appreciation for their input, which may increase their involvement in the project.
A project’s timely completion is ensured through regular monitoring of its development. By asking for updates from specific leads or holding progress meetings where each team member updates the group, project managers can efficiently monitor their team’s work. Software for project management can also give each team member a way to communicate their progress in real time.
It’s critical to monitor project progress for a few reasons. In the beginning, it gives the project manager the data they need for their regular reports to the stakeholders. Second, it can show whether the team is running late, enabling the management to make changes like adding more resources or rearranging the timeline.
Reorder your priorities
Priorities may shift throughout a project due to things like financial constraints and new client needs. Based on these shifting priorities, the project manager must modify the project as necessary. Aim to communicate pro-actively with the top management and clients in order to reduce any potential stress that could result from a modification request. In this manner, the team is more likely to be informed of any changes as soon as they happen and will have more time to adapt.
Complete the task
Making sure your team has fulfilled each criterion is a necessary step in finishing the project. The project manager should examine their initial list of objectives throughout the finalization phase to make sure that the project has achieved each one in accordance with the client’s requirements. The stakeholders and senior management may seek additions or other changes after the project has been submitted, and finalization entails fulfilling these additional demands as well.
Project managers have the chance to examine the project life cycle when the project is over. They can gain important lessons to apply to other initiatives by reviewing the project’s accomplishments and any potential areas for improvement. Meet with your team during this phase to get their comments. Request their opinions on the project’s organization and execution as well as any suggestions for improvement. Also give them your input so they can work on improving themselves for use in future projects.