Project Management Essentials

Guiding a set of tasks through to completion is the definition of project management. Those who embrace project management essentials will make every aspect of the project run more smoothly. Active participation in the management of the project is essential for a project manager to be perceived as indispensible. Experience is the best way to develop a personal approach to effective project management strategies.

Key Concepts & Definitions

Project management concepts can be boiled down to a list of tasks that must be completed in a logical order. The project manager’s role is to guide the participants through the mountain of work at the right pace.

• Project goals and objectives – Stakeholders assume that the project team understands the project requirements. The project manager plays in important role in extracting the information and postponing the project start date until concrete goals and objectives can be constructed.

• Scope management – Project managers will spend more time on scope management than any other issue. Stakeholders are masters at sliding in additional requirements. Advanced planning is the most important factor in preventing the task list from outgrowing the project timeframe.

• Risk management – Every person and business entity will define risks differently. Key players should be included in discussions about obvious risks. Most risks have a tangible influence on the success of the project. Materials and equipment delivery delays are examples of risk.

• Stakeholder management – Proactive agreements will prevent the stakeholders from placing additional requirements on the project team after the kick-off date. Consistent meetings and written reports provide the important updates required. All stakeholder roles must be defined to prevent lags that are outside the project manager’s control.

• Project plans and scheduling – A project plan is only as valuable as the latest set of updates. One week of forgotten updates will throw the entire project off schedule. Some team members will mock the value of the project plan until the project manager demonstrates the importance of the visual assistance provided through these tools.

• Project resource management – Managers will work with project managers to add new team members and release those who have finished the assigned tasks. Most participants will simply go to new assignments on other projects. Remaining tasks on the project plan should be evaluated prior to allowing anyone to leave the project prematurely.

Real-World Application

Discussions concerning project management theory cause many people to search for the nearest exit. Real stories about project successes are borne from bringing together great people to complete tasks that look impossible from the outset. The project manager must build a rapport with everyone associated with the project to generate synergy that leads to success. Written status reports are required to ensure that communication is timely and accurate. A standard format for the reports saves time and effort when the reports are sent in each Friday. Updates to the project plan should occur prior to Monday morning.

Key Issues and Challenges

Time will be the irreplaceable resource that dictates the project manager’s actions each day. Passage of time presents challenges that must be managed proactively to prevent missed dates and stakeholder dissatisfaction. Most other issues can be addressed if every effort is made to gain advantages over time through careful rearrangement of tasks within the project schedule. A great project manager will master project management strategies associated with time management.

Final Evaluation

Project managers enjoy being in the midst of the action. Unexpected events will make every day more exciting and fulfilling. A balance between control and free flowing activity will prevent conflicts within the project team. Obstacles can be controlled if the project manager is available to the project team throughout the business day. Every effort must be made to reduce the impact of unexpected events from changing project assignments and requirements.

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