Why Is Project Management Important?
Have you ever managed a project?
The chances are that you have but did not even know it.
What is a Project?
A project is a short-term endeavor with a specified duration which results in a unique product, service or outcome.
By that definition, if you have ever planned an event, or studied for a major exam, you have managed a project.
What is Project Management?
Projects work under the triple constraint of time, money and quality. Project management involves the use of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to ensure that a project meets its objectives.
If we use studying for a major exam as an example of a project, project management will help you create a study plan, implement the plan, find affordable and relevant study materials, and prepare for the exam day.
Projects can run for days, months or even years. Regardless of the duration of the project, a project requires many different resources to ensure project success. Some of these resources include money, technology, people, materials and time.
The success of a project hinges on finding the right balance between the conflicting demands of time, money, quality and the wants of those who affect or are affected by the project (stakeholders).
At the minimum, project management is important for project success.
Here’s a look at the other reasons it is vital.
Importance of Project Management
One of the key aspects of project management is defining the high-level parameters of the project. This includes:
- Stating the goal of the project
- Documenting the objectives of the projects
- Defining the criteria for project success
- Describing the scope of the project
- Outlining specific project deliverables
- Writing the potential risks
- Identifying the resources required
- The cost of the project
- Listing out the project stakeholders
- Managing and Learning from Success and Failure
Without project management, it would be difficult for project managers to understand the project well and therefore steer it towards success.
1. Project Management paints a breakdown of a project from start to finish (Strategic Alignment)
The planning process in project management helps to break down the big picture view into activities and tasks. Project management helps to describe what needs to be done from start to finish.
The skill of planning assists a project manager with time management, cost management, quality control, resource planning, communication with the team, risk identification. It helps the project team understand the expectations and deliverables of each project stage.
2. Project Management unifies the project team towards a common goal (Leadership)
Regardless of the size, every project needs a team behind it to drive success. Project management brings the entire team under one roof. It also guides each team member on the activities of each project stage.
The project team can leverage the skills and expertise of each member during the project. Further, project management ensures that people are pulling together towards a common goal and therefore, success.
3. Project Management aligns resources to achieve the project goals and objectives (Clear Focus & Objectives)
All projects employ resources such as materials, people, technology and time. Project management provides a standardized way of identifying the resources required, allocating them and ensuring they are being used as expected.
Resources alignment ensures that a project is completed on time, within the expected budget and to the defined standard. Failure to align resources with the needs of the project can lead to huge financial losses with effects being felt for many years into the future. Further, such losses could lead to minimized value for the project stakeholders.
4. Project Management integrates multiple skill sets (Realistic Project Planning)
Project teams are made up of individuals with skills in diverse areas. Under the guidance of a project manager, who adds their subject matter expertise to the mix, project management integrates multiple skillsets for the good of the project. Everyone provides their subject matter expertise during the different stages of the project.
5. Project Management offers an organized way to approach and deliver projects (Quality Control)
You have probably heard the saying, “too many cooks spoil the broth”. This is true of projects which lack an organized approach. Consider this. A company decides to change its current operating system, which helps them serve clients. Instead of appointing a team with a single lead to do it, they decide that each department should determine for itself which system to use.
Imagine the chaos as the finance team chooses a different system from the IT team, which selects a different system from the procurement team. Project Management would provide an organized way to overhaul the system. Through project management, you can collect the system requirements from the different departments and harmonize them to obtain a unified system that serves the needs of all.
6. Project Management keeps costs down (Cost Management)
Cost Management is an area of project management that is concerned with estimating how much it will cost to complete the project, the possible sources of funds, making provisions for emergencies and tracking how the funds are spent. Cost management involves the use of tools like spreadsheets or accounting software to track how funds are disbursed towards each project requirement.
It is rare to hear that a project has an unlimited budget. It, therefore, falls to the project manager to ensure there are nil cost overruns and that funds are allocated per with the project plan and project stage.
7. Project Management helps with unbiased progress monitoring (Orderly Process)
When you employ project management, you have a way of monitoring progress. During the initial stages of a project, the key milestones should be identified and documented. As the project continues, the milestones and well-defined deliverables are used as signposts towards success or failure.
A common way to measure progress is by looking at the cost so far against what has been delivered. This ratio is then expressed using the traffic light colors: Green means the project is on-track, amber means the project is in progress, but at risk of falling behind while red means the project is off-track.
In the absence of project management, it is easy to fall prey to subjective progress monitoring where people indicate how they feel the project is progressing instead of using the cost, schedule, and deliverables to determine progress.
8. Project Management promotes quality control (Quality Control)
Quality is the extent to which a product or service meets the expected requirements. Quality is an essential measure of project success that must be defined, monitored and controlled to avoid delivery of a sub-standard product, service or result. Within the project management framework, quality control ensures the project outcome meets the expected standards of delivery.
9. Project Management promotes knowledge management (Continuous Oversight)
During a project, a lot of information is shared and exchanged. For example, project plans, progress reports, new requirements, change requests. Throughout a project, valuable insights are obtained and should be documented. This information makes up a knowledge bank that a company can use to retain institutional knowledge. It also provides a database of information for future reference.
Upon completion of a project, the project team sits to discuss what worked and what could have gone better. The output of the discussion is a lessons learned document which can inform how future projects are managed and share best practice with other project managers.
10. Managing and Learning from Success and Failure
Project management is important because it learns from the successes and failures of the past.
If you want to get things done on time, within budget and to the right standard, apply the skill of project management, and see success in your next project.