Successful projects don’t simply occur. They are the result of the hard work of skilled project managers and their teams. And without a solid understanding of project management fundamentals, projects fail far too frequently.
In this guide, we’ll go over five essential project management fundamentals that every project manager should understand to lay the groundwork for a successful project.
- Process Groups
The project management life cycle has five different process groups or phases. Each group in the project management process corresponds to a different project phase.
- Initiating: This is the initial phase in which you define the project and turn it into an achievable goal that your stakeholders can evaluate and approve. It starts with a project initiation document (PID), also known as a project charter, which outlines information such as the business case, project scope, deliverables, objectives, estimated budget, limitations, goals, and expected timeline. Use a PID template to make this operation easier.
- Planning: In the planning stage, you’ll detail your project’s infrastructure and help your team comprehend the project’s goals. This phase will provide you and your team with a clear picture of the steps required for project success.
You’ll construct the following project control components during this phase:
- Budget and forecasting
- Smart and clear project goals
- Communication plan
- Initial project timelines
- Project management strategy
- Project team organisation
- Risk assessment and response strategy
- Executing: Your project team will spend most of your funds and complete the actual work during the execution phase. This phase entails completing deliverables, adhering to your project strategy, and meeting your objectives. Your role in this phase is to manage your team and organise benchmarks to ensure your plan is successful and on time. Additionally, you will need to maintain communication and collaboration among stakeholders to keep everyone on the same page.
- Monitoring: During this time, you’ll monitor the project’s progress and key performance indicators (KPIs) to spot issues as they arise. Some common KPIs include:
- Cost and effort tracking
- Goals and deliverables
- Performance and progress
You must constantly monitor your KPIs at each process stage to stay on track.
- Closing: This phase begins when the project is complete. During this phase, you will evaluate the project, run a final budget check, terminate contracts with outside vendors, and write a detailed report outlining all tasks that have yet to be completed.
- Cost Management
Cost management is an essential project management fundamental because it helps with budgeting. It entails the estimation, distribution, and management of project expenditures. Even if you meet your goal, but your project goes over budget, it will not be considered successful.
- Risk Management
Risk management, an important project management fundamental, is detecting, evaluating, and preventing or reducing risk to a project that can potentially affect the desired outcomes. It usually involves:
- Determine and assess potential risks.
- Assign responsibility for these risks to the appropriate team members.
- Prioritise each project risk based on its severity and likelihood of occurrence.
- Plan your responses to each risk and act accordingly.
- Keep an eye on your risk management strategy and make adjustments as needed.
Even if you carefully monitor every step of your risk management strategy, it is critical to be prepared to respond to unexpected risks with agility and thought.
- Task Management
Every project consists of tasks that your team must complete for the project to be successful. Task management is one of the most vital pillars of project management. It involves tracking the tasks for your project at each stage, from planning to completion.
- Project Constraints
Every project has three common constraints: cost, time, and scope, also known as the project management triangle or the iron triangle.
- Cost: Cost constraint helps you keep your project budget within the predefined financial resource limits.
- Time: Managing the time constraint entails planning, monitoring, and controlling the project schedule.
- Scope: The scope constraint helps you create a mechanism for any scope adjustments, define a clear project scope at the start, and communicate it to stakeholders regularly.
Since the three constraints are linked, you must control each component to keep things on track. For instance, if the scope is expanded, you will need a larger budget and more time.
How to Get Better as a Project Manager
Reading about project management fundamentals is a great place to start, but how do you improve? Unfortunately, no project manager comes into the job knowing how to use these essential skills. Much of it takes practice.
If you want to improve your project management skills, enrolling on courses in project management is the most reliable way, as they will help you build a successful project management career.