Why is Project Management Important?
In an age of agile project planning & automation, it’s not uncommon to hear companies question the value of good project management. Companies often wonder why project managers are needed when they could simply set up workflows around the work and handle it all themselves, saving money and time. However, this simply doesn't ring true.
Running a project without good project management might save in short-term time/money, but will cause massive issues down the line. A good project manager holds the entire project together. They ensure that the quality is maintained and the objectives are met while also keeping the budget in check. A report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that organizations that don’t give importance to project management have a 50% chance of running into critical failures down the line, which is quite a heavy percentage.
Great project management isn’t just about keeping an eye on the time, budget, and scope. It’s also about uniting teams and clients, creating a grand vision for success, and bringing everyone together and up-to-date regarding what needs to be done to achieve the goals of a company.
When good project management happens, the positive impact of it goes beyond just a single project and inspires organizational cohesion and productivity.
What is Project Management?
Project management can be defined as the process of gathering and organizing a company’s resources through proper planning, in order to successfully complete a specific task, event, or duty. It can either be an ongoing activity or even a one-time project. The resources that need to be managed by a project manager usually include finances, technology, intellectual property, and personnel.
Project management is mainly prevalent in the fields of engineering and construction, and lately it’s also being employed in the sectors of healthcare and information technology (IT). Regardless of the industry, the responsibilities of the project manager remain the same, which is to set the goals and objectives of a given project, and also to decide who will be taking up which activity and the deadlines for those respective activities. Quality control, too, is checked by the project manager to maintain the standard of the project.
Time frame and budget are two of the many components of project management. A project manager ensures that everything keeps running smoothly, while maintaining the limits of both these components. Therefore, they also inform the team members of the project once things are scheduled to come to an end, so that the project can be wrapped up smoothly.
What are the Benefits of Project Management?
Having a project manager around means someone who can plan, organize, and supervise everything from start to finish. There are several benefits of project management. Some of them are as follows:
Keeps Team Focused and Aligned
Managing a project is not the first step of project management. The work begins with setting the goals for the project, and helping all your team members achieve some clarity regarding the purpose of the project and their role in it.
The goals set by a project manager help in forming decisions related to the product launch, and also lets you measure the success of the project. This way, your team is ensured of the fact that you’ve truly thought through the entire process, and that enables them to focus more to achieve the required goals.
Saves Time and Resources
Whenever a project is done without planned project management, the results do indeed show. The team members find themselves skipping vital steps, struggling to finish everything at the last minute, and often wondering what comes next. Basically, it turns into an absolute chaos.
With project management, you get to outline everything beforehand, including deliverables, due dates, task owners, etc. Project managers then proceed to organize the project to-dos in a timeline or a categorized list to view what’s being done by whom and when. This helps in saving a lot of time and resources.
Mapping out a clear plan of your project and adding the essential details enables you to turn a chaotic process into an efficient one. That way, you will know just the amount of time each step will require, and the resources to go along with it.
Clearly Defines Everyone’s Roles
The project manager is the head of any given project. Without them, the team members wouldn’t find themselves being motivated enough to complete their task. It will also lead them to forget what the details are, or make them wonder whom to go to with doubts and queries.
When you have a project manager around, it’s easier to let everyone know what their individual responsibilities are. Project managers serve as the focal point of a project. This way, a lot of confusion is avoided as everyone knows their roles, and also have someone to go to if they come across any hurdles.
Makes Clients Happy
Whenever a particular project is done on time and within the given budget, it makes the clients instantly happy. Once they see that your company handles projects well, their trust in you is bound to increase. It’s this very client-manager relationship that project management helps in building and maintaining.
Project managers know exactly the kind of project management tools to apply to increase the efficiency of everyone as a team. When choosing a project management tool, don’t go for a traditional one, as they can take long to set up. Instead, go for one that’s flexible and easy to adopt. These tools also allow the team members to communicate with each other easily regarding various aspects of a project, as a result of which work gets done more quickly.
Better Flexibility and Risk Assessment
Since project management is all about charting out everything from the get-go, it also allows more flexibility. When you already know what’s about to come, it allows you to experiment with different options that could lead to better results.
In addition to flexibility, it also allows for better risk assessment. The pre-planned structure enables the team members to view certain problems that could crop up, and thereby take preventive measures beforehand.
Provides Competitive Advantage and Reputational Integrity
Competitive advantage refers to the advantage a company gains when it provides its clients and customer greater service and benefits in comparison to the other organizations. Reputational integrity is how others view a company or brand and its values and principles.
Project management helps improve both these aspects. Since reputational integrity is related to doing something when you said you would and basically keeping your word, good project management allows you to accomplish just that.
As effective project management lets you deliver all the project to your clients on time, it naturally increases the competitive advantage you have in comparison to other brands and companies who are your competitors.
Best Practices for Successful Project Management
Project management practices vary from one organization to the other. However, there are certain practices that should be implemented for every project. Those practices are:
If your clients and team members have different ideas of what the project is going to be like, it can spell trouble for you. Therefore, before you begin with a project, make sure that all the aspects of the project are clear to everyone, namely the team members, clients, sponsors, and users. All the elements such as the project deliverables, quality standards, and goals should be made known to everyone and entirely transparent.
Creating a risk response team is a good practice to employ. This team’s responsibility is to jot down the emergencies that you could encounter, and have a back-up plan ready in case plans go haywire. When putting together a risk response team, be sure to include only those people who have sufficient knowledge, experience, and skills to save a project if a mishap occurs. This team is mainly in case the project management tool fails to work or if you fall short of resources for some reason.
Working as a group entails keeping the lines of communication open. One of the prime practices of project management includes communicating effectively with your team members. Always keep them in the loop regarding any potential changes, updates, developments, and so on. Thanks to group messaging apps such as Slack, this is much easier to do nowadays.
While the development of technical competencies is pivotal for a project manager, it’s also necessary to keep enhancing your leadership skills. Project management isn’t just about budgets and deadlines; it’s also about people skills and displaying empathy. Being a good leader not only helps you manage tough situations, but also difficult employees. Therefore, be a leader who is not just technically competent, but also efficient leadership-wise.
With so many steps taking place at once, it’s only natural to lose track of things. Therefore, every project manager should constantly track and monitor the progress. This should be done at regular intervals, so that no issues crop up at the last minute. Every valuable project management software enables project manager to view insights regarding how a project is progressing and which of the resources are being used. It enables them to take the required actions in case things seem to be getting out of hand.
Conduct a quality assurance process as early and often as you can. What your team members consider as quality work, may not be what you or the stakeholders consider as quality work. Quality assurance prevents you from handing over work that doesn’t meet the assigned standards and guidelines. Just keep checking up on the progress every once in a while, so that the quality of the project can be maintained throughout the entire process.
When looking at the best practices of project management, risk management should have a separate place of its own. Be it monitoring and control, or identification through analysis, the risk response team should possess a clear methodology to manage risks. Before even the tiniest of problems transforms into something big, address it, so that it doesn’t affect the budget, team morale, schedule, or the quality of deliverables.
Consolidating all the information regarding the project is a wise move for project managers. Gathering all the past knowledge helps them tackle issues both in the present as well as the future. The knowledge and experience gathered from past projects tell you just what to avoid so as to ensure success in the current and future projects.
A project manager is nothing if not organized. Therefore, create a detailed and comprehensive work plan. Have a list of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. In that list, also include who is supposed to do what and by when. When having this detailed work plan around, employees are more likely to get their work done sooner. As the project progresses, you can keep ticking things off the list so that you know just what is remaining to be accomplished.
Once the entire project is done, hold a wrap-up meeting. Congratulate everyone on their good work, and reflect on all the successes and failures. Having this meeting helps you find out the problem areas, and how they can be worked on and prevented in the future.
In the past few years, several organizations across the world and various different industries have realized the importance of project management in improving the bottom-line results of a project and controlling budgetary KPIs. It was during the period of recession when PM was embraced more wholly, as it proved to reduce overall expenditures and improve the delivery rates as well.
An efficient project manager does more than setting a budget and tracking deadlines. They oversee the project from start to finish, making sure that the necessary goals and strategies are properly aligned, and that everyone is on the same page regarding the objectives of the project.
With the bond between organized project management and progress of business values getting stronger, the importance of project management is continually growing. Fundamentally, automation isn't making project managers outdated - it’s making them more essential.