An introduction to project management

Let’s start at the beginning: in order to define what project management is, we first need to define a project.

What is a project?

A project is a temporary endeavour that has a definite beginning and end – it is carefully planned by dividing it into several phases, including a closing phase once the objectives have been achieved. Projects create unique products or outputs.

Building a house is an example of a project: it has defined phases such as planning, hiring contractors, construction, electrical installation, plumbing and so on. There is a definite end point, which might be once the house sale has been finalised. The outputs are unique – the house doesn’t exist anywhere else.

What is project management?

The Association for Project Management (APM) define project management as:

… the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters. Project management has final deliverables that are constrained to a finite timescale and budget.

(Association for Project Management 2019)

Whether you are recruiting a new member of staff or constructing the football stadium, every project needs someone to manage it, to ensure its success, and to keep an eye on every detail at every stage from initiation to completion. Put simply, project management is about getting things done for an agreed price, within the given time, and making sure the quality meets the clients’ requirements.

Project management is also about ensuring that everyone involved (known as the stakeholders) understands the objectives (scope) of the project, from before the first step is taken through to the end of the project. It is the project manager’s responsibility to manage the organisation of the entire project. A successful project needs people with the right skills and knowledge, and a well-managed, motivated team. A project manager is responsible for ensuring the team members have clear roles, responsibilities and reporting lines, which will allow a project to conclude without compromising on time, cost or quality.

Project managers are the unsung heroes of successful projects. Whether it’s changing the way a company works or the organisation of an important event, the project manager keeps everything and everyone on track to ensure the desired outcomes get delivered.

Your task

Think about how this short course was created. Do you think this undertaking would meet the definition of a project?

Post your answer in the comments and see what everyone else thinks. If you relate to what someone thinks, why not ‘like’ it or leave a reply?

References

Association for Project Management (2016) What is Project Management? [online] available from https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/what-is-project-management/ [31 July 2019]

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Project Initiation

Coventry University