Project management 101: Defining project management

What is project management?

Project management is a broad-reaching term that may feel complex when you first approach it. There are many moving parts to project management, including workflows, deadlines, budgets, and other deliverables that must be acted upon. Today requires a new approach towards project management, leveraging Dynamic Work Management. This enables businesses to tackle complex and multi-stakeholder projects, keeping deadlines and project goals as the priority.

In order to understand its complexities, you must start with the basics: What actually is project management?

Project management 101 begins with making an involved topic easy to understand. In project management, most parts of accomplishing a task are connected in one system. Understanding the basics of each aspect can help you learn how project management works as a whole. If you're a complete beginner, this guide is a good place to start: You'll learn what project management is, the roles of project managers, and how technology fits into the equation.

What is the definition of project management?

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools that allow activities to meet project requirements. To really understand what that means, it may be helpful to define other terms and areas of project management.

  • Project: A project is a series of tasks that lead toward a single goal. Projects include specifications and boundaries like time limits, people involved, and resources needed.

  • Deliverables: Deliverables are any results from the project, which can include reports and documents.

Projects are defined by their temporary nature and the fact that their operations are used to accomplish a single goal. Projects have to be expertly managed in order to get results on time and within budget. Project management was created to make sure those goals are met.

The phases of project management

In order for a project to be successful from start to finish, project management is broken down into five focused phases. The project budget outlines and delegates resources and expenditures over these phases.

The five phases are:

  • Initiation: In this stage, the goals, scope, constraints, and stakeholders are chosen and described.

  • Planning: Team members create a plan of how to get from point A to point B with a schedule of tasks, deadlines, and resources.

  • Execution: This is the stage in which the project plan is put to work and unfolds.

  • Monitoring and Controlling: Mechanisms and tools for progress monitoring are used to make sure the project is proceeding according to the plan. This helps to resolve issues before they become larger problems.

  • Closing: When the project is formally closed, deliverables have been produced, paperwork is signed, and resources can be reallocated. The project is analyzed for success.

Integrating task management

Task management is an important component of project management. Tasks are the activities that a project management plan is built on. The success of the project is dependent on the successful completion of the related tasks. It's useful to keep track of task dependencies, which can help you realize if a project is on track and where it stands on a timetable.

Tools used for project management

There are many steps, components, and tasks to track and respond to in the project management realm. Effective project management tools, especially those that can be customized to your organization's standards, can make a world of difference. These tools are used to make project management more efficient and effective, and can be built using a powerful Dynamic Work Management platform.

Between the use of automation and the no-code app builder, the project management use cases of these tools are bountiful. Some notable features that help streamline project management initiatives:

  • Dashboards: A dashboard is used to gather metrics and data from a project. Dashboards provide charts and graphs that allow team members to track project progress and are a huge aid in reporting efforts.

  • Gantt Charts: A Gantt chart is used to show your task list as a graph over time. Every task will have a deadline, and the tasks can be linked or listed independently. A team can use a Gantt chart to track progress and enter updates.

  • Task Management Tools: There are many types of task management tools available to help you keep a project on track. Notes and file-sharing tools can be very helpful, as can automatic email notifications when tasks are completed to keep everyone on the same page.

  • Time Sheets: Time sheets can be an essential component of managing the workload process. By tracking the working hours of team members, you can make sure resources have been allocated properly and everyone's workload is well-balanced.

What does a project manager do?

The project manager is the leader and organizer of a project from start to finish. They are the ones who keep everything organized, decide on tasks and their budget, and allocate those tasks. Project managers are creators of schedules and team assemblers. They're in charge of gathering necessary supplies and tools.

Creation of the project budget and payment for resources are also tasks that fall to the project manager. They're responsible for all documentation and proper filing. A large part of their job is risk management so that timetables are followed and workflow is unobstructed.

While project managers are undeniably leaders, it's important to understand that they are not necessarily the "boss." The project has been sold to a sponsor or stakeholder who has entrusted operations to the project manager, who in turn must report back to that sponsor or stakeholder on the project's progress.

What makes a good project manager? People who are well-organized, goal-oriented, and passionate about processes and planning are well-suited to this type of role. They need to perform well under pressure, be effective motivators, and offer solid leadership with strong communication skills. They should also have a good knowledge of process management methods and techniques. Does this sound like you? Then you might be cut out for a job as a project manager.

Project management methods

We mentioned choosing different process management tools, but what about techniques? Here are a few project management methods and techniques that are most commonly used:

  • PMI/PMBOK: This method was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI). They published a book that breaks down a project into five stages: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. This method can be used for a wide variety of projects. It's tried, tested, and reliable.

  • Waterfall: A straightforward and linear method, this technique allows projects to only pass from one stage when the previous stage has been completed. This is a six-part model that is best used on highly structured projects that are not amenable to change.

  • Agile: This method works great if you're planning on incorporating low-code app development into project management. The method was invented by software developers and values individuals who can respond to change over rigid processes.

  • Six Sigma: This project management method focuses on improving quality by identifying what isn't working in a project. It was invented by Motorola engineers in the 1980s and involves using empirical statistics and a separate methodology to eliminate waste. This method is best for very large organizations.

Using custom applications in project management

Many of the methods and steps we've described can be best organized, tracked, and executed with the support of a custom business application. When you use Quickbase’s Dynamic Workplace Management platform to build applications, you don't need the skills of a pro developer with extensive coding knowledge. Our no-code tools will allow you to design a unique and powerful project management solution for your organization.

Build your own solution today!

You can start a free trial of Quickbase today to get acclimated. Building a custom app with Quickbase or starting with a pre-built project management app can be a great way to get comfortable with project management and task management.