You have probably heard the term “project management” at one point or another during your career, whether in conjunction with your business or someone else’s. This term gets thrown around so much, however, that it is occasionally misused or misunderstood. How then can you know what project management really is, and how it should be applied?
At its most basic, project management is the management and organization of resources in order to accomplish a specific goal within a set amount of time. As such, projects are temporary endeavors. This makes them different from day to day operations, which are an ongoing process and require a different set of skills. Some examples from a business perspective would be the creation of a software product, or a marketing campaign to announce a new service.
Where is Project Management Applied?
Project management is transferable to nearly any industry. The principles of project management have been applied to a wide variety of fields such as construction, engineering, architecture, marketing, software, and information technology. Projects are not limited by size, either. They can range from large-scale, multi-year construction projects to a single one-page website. The size of the scope, the amount of resources, and the area of specialization are irrelevant, so long as the project meets the criteria defined above.
What Defines a Project Manager?
A project manager is responsible for bringing all the project’s disparate elements together in order to meet the final objectives. He accomplishes this through leadership, organization, planning, and crisis management. A few of the more important qualities the role demands are diplomacy, flexibility, and organization. A project manager will often wear multiple hats over the course of the project, acting as negotiator for the client one moment, then playing the role of teacher to a new team member the next. He is the man in the middle—the one all participants will turn to for advice, feedback, and orders.
What Tools are Available for a Project Manager?
Most project management tools support the project manager in two areas: organization and communication. Organizational aids can be anything from feature-intensive project management software to a simple whiteboard and marker. It all depends on the projects’ scope and complexity and the team’s work process. Communication tools are those meant to make it easier for different project contributors to talk and stay abreast of what’s happening in the team. Regular phones and email work fine, of course, but sometimes situations demand more advanced communications tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging.