What is Project Management

 |  By: Kate Jones

Before we look at the role of Project Management, it’s helpful to define what constitutes a project.

A project is not a piece of on-going work. Projects can run over a long period of time, but they always have a defined beginning and end. They also fulfil a set of pre-defined goals and requirements, which are usually outlined in a scope document. Projects can be extremely complex or relatively simple, but the notion of delivering agreed requirements within a specific timeframe, and to a set budget is true of all projects. Only when project requirements are met, is the project complete.

Getting the scope of a project right from the start is crucial to the success of any project. Part of the Project Manager’s job is to avoid “scope creep”, which happens when more than what’s pre-agreed gets included into the requirements. It's very hard to deliver a project on time and to budget when scope creep has taken place.

Most often, projects include a post-project review, which may include monitoring on-going metrics to assess the project’s success over a period-of-time.

Project Management

The role of the Project Management is ultimately, to ensure that the project meets or exceeds the set requirements outlined in the scope document and is delivered on time and within the allocated budget.

Project Management is led by a Project Manager, but other roles will be involved in the delivery of a successful project such as the team delivering the work, client services and finance. The health of a project is greatly impacted by how these team members collaborate and having systems and processes in place pre-project is vital.  

The primary challenge of Project Management is achieving all goals within the constraints of time and budget, whilst retaining a profit if applicable. Part of this challenge is met by continually tracking and monitoring project progress against time and budget, whilst optimising the allocation of project resource and rigidly sticking to the agreed project scope.   

As Project Management grows in complexity, or when juggling multiple projects, there’s software available to greatly help with these challenges. This includes software for capacity management, scheduling, project progress tracking, time management, timesheets and time billing, project financial reporting, and estimating. 

But it’s important to note that a common pitfall when using tools to help you run your projects, is to use multiple tools, each tracking a different element. This means you never see the whole picture and what you can see, quickly becomes misleading and confusing. 

Recording and monitoring all project information in one collaborative and responsive system such as Synergist, brings all project elements together so the whole team has a complete, honest and up-to-date picture at-all-times. And nothing slips through the net or is misunderstood within the wider project context. It’s especially helpful if you are managing multiple projects and want to be able to see them individually, or the cumulative health of them all.  

Project Collaboration

Projects by their nature include a number of different roles. The more complicated the project, or the more projects being run symelteniously, then the more important it is that everyone can collaborate efficiently. At its most basic level, everyone needs to be able to record their time spent on the project – you can learn more about timesheets here. But it will be much more effective if the team have access to one system that gives them all the project information they need and whereby they can record their progress as they go.

Pre-Project Checklist

Here is a check list of things the Project Manager should consider pre-project to ensure that the project is kept on-track and the team can collaborate effectively throughout.

  • Ensure a scope document has been agreed by all stake holders.

  • Identify a realistic time and budget estimate for the project, ideally using previous project data for a realistic guide.

  • Look at the schedule and identify when can the work be done.

  • How will the team record their time, and how will I track time spend throughout the project?

  • How will I track progress against budget?

  • What financial reporting is required?

  • Identify how all team members will communicate, and how you will understand their progress.

  • What approvals are needed throughout the project?

  • Are there any dependencies, ie what stage of the project can not be completed until this is done, and therefore, where might bottlenecks appear.

  • How will I be alerted to potential issues?