The Ultimate Project Management Guide

Last Updated on April 30, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz

The Ultimate Project Management Guide Title Image
pixabay.com

Do you know that businesses with a specific project management organization can be 38 percent more successful with their projects and meet original set goals than those who did not? Organizations can increase project success rates and unite a remote workforce when they use project management methodologies. They can adopt a standardized, transparent approach to project management when they use a PMO.

While the PMI’s Pulse of Profession estimated that lack of project milestones and objectives cause about 37 percent of projects to fail, projects also fail due to a lack of connection between project and business objectives.

This guide will discuss project management and how you can use it to your business’s goals and objectives. Want to find out more about project management software for your business? Then please check out our article on the best project management software for 2021.

What is Project Management?

As a critical practice, project management applies techniques, deliverables, tools, skills, and processes to ensure project success follow concrete path by meeting requirements and goals. Your business may be building products or tools, and as real projects, they have a defined resource, scope, purpose, and start and end date.

Since management is an ongoing process, PM is different because it has a finite timespan and final deliverable. The PM’s primary aim is to create a final product that will impact an organization’s benefits.

Project Definition

Businesses undertake a project as a temporary, unique endeavor to achieve preset objectives, defined as benefits, outcomes, and outputs. When a project reaches the goals and objectives within an agreed budget and timescale and according to their acceptance criteria, businesses will take them to be a success.

A project uses a controlled means to implement the desired change to an environment. By using projects, your business can organize a party, develop a website, run a marketing campaign, and much more.

Project Management Triangle

In any modern corporate landscape, three elements usually constrain a project, which several experts express in many different ways. The project management triangle, also known as the iron triangle in project management, explains these three elements and their variations.

  • Cost, schedule, scope
  • Budget, time, scope

project management triangle
pixabay.com

Even though different experts may change these three elements of the triangle, they all perform the same essential function: a fixed set of deliverables or expectations, a fixed timeline or schedule, and a limited budget.

When something affects one of the triangles, the others spring into effect. Your company may need to adjust one or both of the other elements to accommodate the change when that happens. Therefore, you may need a scope reduction or more resources when a client shortens a timeframe suddenly.

It is crucial to conclude which triangle version you want to use at the start of a project and agree with your project sponsor which of the objectives are most critical. Evaluate all issues, risks, and changes against the triangle and use your critical object’s impact to weigh your action course.

Project Management Methodology

The essence of project management methodology is using administrative processes and principles to manage a project. How your company communicates and works will determine your methodology choice. However, how does your business utilize a project management methodology?

The project scope, project type, and your project team will determine what methodology you choose. As a project manager, part of the first decision you will need to make is choosing a project management methodology.

The way you and your team works will have an ongoing and profound impact on what methodology you pick. It is useful to point out that there are pros and cons with different project management methodologies for various project types. Some are for comprehensiveness, and others are for speed.

Types of Project Management Methodologies

Regardless of what project management tools you decide to use, you can use any of these methodologies since they are tool agnostic. However, you must know what kind of projects they are best suited for and their advantages and disadvantages before using them.

Waterfall

As the oldest methodology, Dr. Winston Royce used Waterfall in 1970 to manage the increasingly complicated software development. The public, especially the software industry, has adopted this methodology since then. As the Waterfall methodology is requirements-focused, it is also sequential. Before you can proceed further, you need to have a clear idea of what your project requires.

Since there is a need to separate the Waterfall into distinct stages, you will have to fix issues, implement the solutions, design the solution, analyze and collect requirements. Before you move to another step, you must wrap up a stage since it is a self-contained process.

Pros

Some benefits of the Waterfall methodology include:

Documentation

The Waterfall model relies heavily on documentation due to its focus on understanding and gathering requirements. You can work on the project and move in new resources when needed.

Structure

You will find strength in the Waterfall method’s rigidity, even though it can be a liability. You can divide and organize work with flawless segregation between stages. Each stage needs to be perfect since you can’t go back. As such, you will get better results.

Ease of Use

You can easily use and understand this model. Regardless of prior experience, you can grasp the intuition between these stages.

Cons

Front-Heavy

You need to have a correct analysis and understanding of the entire Waterfall approach. You may need to start over if the requirements change or you fail to analyze. If you are handling complex and lengthy projects, you will find it a poor choice due to a lack of flexibility.

Higher Risk

Due to rigidity in methodology, you may need to start the project all over if you need to change something or find an error. The project failure can increase significantly with this.

Agile

As a response to the Waterfall method’s failure to manage complicated projects, Agile emerges as a software development-focused project management methodology. Though the software industry has been using Agile PM ideas for some time, the public knew about it when some IT agents released the Agile Manifesto in 2001.

Agile’s technique favors a flexible and fast approach without needing top-heavy requirements-gathering. With little incremental changes, Agile responds to changing environment as it is iterative.

agile project management
unsplash.com

Pros

Lower Risk

When you work with Agile, you can easily make changes accordingly to get consistent feedback from stakeholders. And since you involve the stakeholders at every step, you can reduce the project failure risk drastically.

Freedom and Flexibility

You can make incremental changes and more freedom to experiment with your resources since there is no focus on requirements and no fixed stages. Creative projects will see this even more suited.

Cons

Collaboration-Heavy

All involved departments, such as sponsors and stakeholders, may need to work closely to deliver results due to the lack of a fixed plan. Stakeholders may also be available and willing to provide feedback quickly with this feedback-focused approach.

No Fixed Plan

The Agile approach will respond to changes when they happen, making it quite hard for scheduling and resource management. Users may need to bring resources on/off on an ad-hoc basis while juggling them constantly.

Agile’s Best Uses

Agile approach’s flexibility means that you can use it for several projects, and it works best for:

  • When communication and collaboration are your crucial strengths
  • When there is a need for quick changes in the project
  • When you have a general product idea, but no fixed end in mind

Scrum

Though people don’t see Scrum as a fully-featured project management methodology, its approach to Agile management includes daily stand-up meetings, short sprints, and project teams. The method Scrum uses is to put the project team front and center of the project. The expectation is for the team to be self-managing and self-organizing since there is no project manager.

Pros

Scrum has the benefits of consistent stakeholder feedback, rapid iteration, and all the Agile services. Other benefits are:

Team-Focused

Teams using Scrum have clear visibility into the project as they need to manage themselves. As such, team leaders can focus on their priorities due to their capability.

Fast-Paced

Scrum promotes rapid development and iteration with its sprint approach of daily stand-up meetings and 30-day limits.

Scrum Sprints

The 30-day sprints are Scrum’s strict approach. Teams can have small chunks of their end-goals. As such, they can use the daily stand-up meetings to work on these goals in 30-day sessions. With that, they can manage complex and large projects.

Cons

Lack of Flexibility

Any resource that leaves the team in-between can massively affect the net results due to Scrum’s project team focus. Large groups will also not find this approach flexible.

Higher Risk

The possibility of failure is higher since the project team is self-managing, except the team is highly motivated and disciplined. Scrum poses a high chance to fail when the team doesn’t have enough experience.

Scope Creep

There can be scope creep because there is no project manager for budgeting and scheduling or planned end-date.

Scrum’s Best Uses

A highly motivated, disciplined, and experienced project team can find Scrum’s approach ideal since they understand project requirements and set their priorities. Along with all the Agile benefits are also its flaws. If the project team is quite large, Scrum can fail even though it works for large projects.

Why is Project Management Important?

project management example
Project management example – unsplash.com

Frankly, it can be a false economy to run projects without good project management. Apart from delivering on scope, budget, and time, and keep in check the project management’s iron triangle, excellent project management can get your team on the same page about what it needs to do to stay on the success track, creates a vision for a successful project, and unites teams and clients.

You will have a positive impact reverberating far beyond delivering the stuff when you manage a project correctly. Project management is essential because:

  • It brings about learning and managing from failure and success
  • Project management brings about subject matter expertise
  • Critical for continuous oversight
  • It creates an orderly process
  • Provides risk management
  • Creates quality control
  • Identifies obstacles and dependencies early on
  • Establishes clear objectives and focuses
  • Helps monitor progress and budget
  • It brings about leadership
  • Supports strategic alignment for organizations

Benefits of Using Project Management

Businesses of all scopes can benefit from the powerful business tool of project management. You can manage the people and work involved in your project through technique, guidelines, and repeatable processes. With it, you can deliver projects on budget and time, efficiently, and consistently, thereby increasing your chances of success.

With project management, you can:

  • Boost your bottom line and gain a competitive advantage
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Mitigate project failing risks
  • Satisfy the project stakeholders’ various needs
  • Encourage consistent communications amongst clients, suppliers, and staff
  • Improve work quality and productivity
  • Keep resources and costs to budget while staying on schedule
  • Budget, schedule, and set the scope accurately from the start
  • Ensure and prioritize your business’s resources and their efficient use
  • Gain a new standpoint on your project and how it fits with your business strategy
  • Improve your chances of accomplishing the desired result

Phases of project management

It can be overwhelming when you think of the amount of work and planning that goes into starting a project. You may need to complete several tasks in the right sequence and at the right time. When they can break down projects into phases, seasoned project managers have found it relatively more comfortable to deal with a project’s details by taking steps in the right order.

Therefore, you can simplify your projects into a series of manageable and logical steps and give your efforts some structure when dividing your project management efforts into phases.

Phase 1: Project Initiation

The project life cycle begins with the first phase of initiation. In this stage, you will need to measure the project’s feasibility and value. When project managers want to decide whether they will pursue a project or not, they use two evaluation tools:

  • Feasibility study
  • Business case document

When you have a project that passes these two tests, you can assign them to a designated project office or a project team.

Phase 2: Project Planning

The team needs a guide through a solid plan when the project gets the green light. The plan will also keep the team on budget and time. The project team can also procure required materials, acquire financing, and obtain resources with a well-written project plan. It can also manage supplies, communicate benefits to stakeholders, create acceptance, handle risk, and gets the direction for producing quality outputs through the project plan.

Phase 3: Project Execution

This phase has a strong connection with project management. With project execution, you have to create deliverables that will satisfy your customers. If you are the team leader, you will need to keep your members focused and allocate resources for the assigned tasks. The planning phase determines the execution. Therefore, the project plan determines the team’s efforts and work during the execution phase.

Phase 4: Project Control and Monitoring

Since control and monitoring happen at the same time, you may need to combine them with execution. Ensure your team monitors its progress as it executes the project plan. A project team can track variations from allotted time and cost, calculate critical performance indicators, and avoid scope creep by monitoring tasks to guarantee delivery of what it is planned to do.

Phase 5: Project Closure

When your project team delivers the finished project, they can close a project. It will also release resources for other projects and communicate project completion to all stakeholders. With this phase, the project team can build more successful teams and more robust processes using previous project successes and mistakes and document and evaluate the finished project.

project management meeting
unsplash.com

What is a Milestone in Project Management?

You can use a milestone in project management to indicate a stage or change in development. As project management’s powerful components, milestones will help you map forward and signify your project plan’s critical events.

While milestones ensure you are on track, they also use your project course to act as signposts. You may not necessarily follow the right path in your project and merely monitor tasks when you are not using project milestone tracking.

With milestones, you can also get the necessary help to communicate specific things happening with your project and not just showing progress. Ask yourself some of these questions if you are not sure about your project milestone:

  • Is this the event that affects your project?
  • Do the stakeholders need to review this?
  • Is this your project’s critical moment that will indicate forward progress?
  • Will this affect the final deadline?
  • Is this a deliverable or a task?

By calling out significant deliverables, decisions, dates, and events, you can keep projects on track through milestones. Include some of these project milestones in your plan:

  • Crucial outages or dates that can impact the timeline
  • Essential presentations and meetings
  • Stakeholder and client approvals
  • Critical deliveries
  • Project phases’ start and end dates

What is a Deliverable in Project Management?

A deliverable in project management is any result, service, or product that you need to complete for project completion. To achieve a project, you need to create capabilities for your projects. These capabilities are the deliverables. In some cases, you can also consider your team’s developed capacity as a deliverable. 

Types of Deliverables

External Deliverables

Those projects delivered to the client and users are external deliverables. It could also be subsystems that make up a system or an IT system, which leads to business benefits and transition from a project to cut down on a process’s turnaround time.

Internal Deliverables

Any project that makes your project run is an internal deliverable. These deliverables are not necessarily the product the end-users would desire. The project generates these deliverables internally. Examples of these deliverables are Training and Testing, Configuration Management, and Project Management.

There are also classifications for these deliverables, and they are:

  • Activity deliverables: reviews, meetings, status reports, etc.
  • Planning deliverables: project artifacts, budgeting, scheduling, management plans, etc.
  • Project deliverables: these deliverables are typically for the projects’ stakeholders.

What is WBS in Project Management?

As experts use to break down a project into a hierarchy of tasks, subtasks, and deliverables, the work breakdown structure, WBS, is a fixture for classic systems engineering and project management methodology. WBS offers guidance for schedule control and development, and as a helpful tool, it can help you define a time estimate or detailed cost.

Fundamentally, you can have a top-down inspection of your project and set to complete it by breaking it down into tasks and subtasks using a work breakdown structure. As it is methodical, it is also a simple means of understanding and organizing your project scope in manageable, smaller components.

Why Use a WBS Structure?

You can find it somewhat confusing and difficult to estimate projects. However, you don’t have to go through heartburn when creating a project estimate. It will help to break down your scope into chunks, analyze needs, and ask questions.

You can get granular about the task you need to handle for any given project when you develop a work breakdown structure for a set of functions or any plan. And if your estimate may go beyond the intended deadline or budget, you will understand when you use a work breakdown structure when estimating projects based on units.

What is a Critical Path in Project Management?

Professionals use Critical Path Analysis, otherwise known as the Critical Path Method, as a scheduling process that can depict the tasks sequences to complete a project using a network diagram. This process is known as paths. When you have defined the path, you can use an algorithm to calculate each path and classify the critical path, determining the project’s total duration.

In project management, project managers use the critical path method to create the project’s timeline and project schedules. Part of the critical path methods are:

  • Setting the stakeholder expectations in accordance with deadlines
  • Setting project deliverables and milestones
  • Controlling and scheduling activities with a focus on planning
  • Using the tasks’ dependencies and duration by calculating the critical path to identify the critical activities
  • Estimating the project tasks’ duration
  • Identifying the dependencies between tasks and every task necessary to complete the project

You can gain insight into which activities you can prioritize when you make these considerations. Then, complete these essential tasks by allocating the necessary resources to them. You will have lesser priority in tasks that are not on the critical path in the project plan. With that, you can delay them when you discover that they have become over-allocated for your project team.

Conclusion

As you make your way into discovering more about project management and how to use it in your business, you will also find out that it is not rocket science as people use to think of it. Essentially, project managers use PM as a roadmap, a set of tools they use to guide a project from one point to another in a way that demonstrates ingenuity, cost-savings, and efficiency.

One of PM’s most significant benefits is that it allows for flexibility. It creates excellent performance for your business, and your team will be even more successful which will positively impact your bottom line/profit.

Contact us today for consulting services if you need help in running your project.

Mandy Schmitzhttps://mandyschmitz.com
Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

Must Read