The Basics of Project Management

FEA02x - edited feature imageProject management is an absolutely vital part of any organization’s management structure. When a product is made within a corporation, it is up to the project manager to make sure everything stays on time and on budget. When an organization has lethargic or draconian project management, however, it can delay the release of a product and will almost always produce sub-standard work. As it follows, a company that continuously releases products without proper functionality will most assuredly face a bitter end. This is why good project management can mean the life and death of a business.

Qualities of Great Project Managers

It is important to constantly revise and learn in order to be an effective project manager. The best managers out there do everything they can to stay up to date with the best standards and practices.

When looking for great project managers always try to find those that are educating themselves consistently. This will prove that they are serious about having productive teams that always execute on time. It will also prove that the manager is actively trying to improve his or her skills all of the time which is an invaluable asset to any business.

Communication is key. In relationships, business, and life, good communication skills will take you down the best road every time. There is a close relationship between the active engagement of a team and the quality of work that they produce.

The more communication, the better. This principle is expressed and defined clearly in the agile charter. A cooperative and talkative team is an efficient and effective team.

Competent management truly relies on a combination of fluidity and rigidity. The fluidity refers to the ability of adaptive project managers to roll with the punches. Good managers know that a client’s wishes or markets can change at any time, and that those changes must be made in a way that doesn’t disrupt workflow.

The rigidity refers to the principles of project management, such as the maturity level and project charter of any given team. The best managers can implement a maturation strategy and can execute it without delay or compromise. They must also maintain a strong grip on the schedule and charter of the project. This will ensure that no meandering takes place and that work can be done well and quickly.

The Basic Processes of Project Management

The first item that any project manager should accomplish first is the project charter. In a limited scope, it is a relatively short document that is typically created in conjunction with the client. Overall, it is a document that outlines the entire life cycle of a product’s development.

This document includes the schedule, budget, and product functionality. Once the charter is set, then work can begin on the project requirements and work breakdown structure.

The requirements are essentially the what of any project. This includes any spaces needed to develop the product, tools that may be needed, and whatever technology is required to develop.

When good project requirements are not set or agreed upon, then a botched product is most likely to happen in the future. Always make sure that the requirements are satisfied with the product and the client. Any disputes during development can sideline work and delay timetables.

The work breakdown structure, or WBS, is a similar document to the charter in that it defines the scope and adds deliverables to the timetable. Deliverables, in this context, can mean any segment of work that adds to the total completion of a product. A good WBS can ease confusion and provide valuable deadlines that can be used to gauge performance and scheduling.

Then, after all of these steps have been completed, the plan can be enacted. The plan is the totality of all of the moving parts involved in the production of a product. This is where the true measure of a project manager is tested.

A manager that cannot make a plan work is not a project manager at all. It is up to the manager to decide how the team will interact and what they will deliver. Judgment in this space must be of the highest order. Choosing whether to be restrictive or relaxed is up to the project manager. A plan that is followed well and comes in on time and on the budget is an excellent plan. Only an excellent project manager will give you excellent results.


Ultimately, project management is all about the manager. A good manager knows when to restrict movement and when to allow relaxation. A healthy mix of both approaches can provide you with an effective team that delivers excellent products. Understanding what makes a great project manager will ensure that your team will be successful.

Project management is all about cooperation. Whether it be with the client, team, or executives, cooperation can be the difference between failure and success. A project manager must be able to formulate a project scope with the client and enact an agreed-upon plan in order to be effective at all.

A logical work breakdown structure and a concrete plan are absolutely necessary in order to have a successful team. A good project manager can balance all of these spinning plates while still giving the attention to each and every team member.

A good project manager will listen to his or her team and will execute a plan without a hitch, or close to it. It is difficult to say that any trait is indicative of success. But, we do know that communication almost always produces great results and should be the focus of any project manager. However, the truly best managers will always put the team members on top. This, combined with a penchant for learning, is a guaranteed way to become or find a phenomenal project manager.

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Diane Keller

Diane Keller

Dr. Diane Schleier-Keller is a business strategist and finance columnist. She has 3 years of experience in M&A and has been traveling the world to help train entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. You may also connect with her on Twitter at @DScheilerKeller.

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