Back To The Basics: Project Management

Every once in awhile, we need to remind ourselves of the basics of project management. Everyone has projects that they are responsible for delivering in their work or life. Let’s review the foundational concepts of projects.

What is a project? 

A project is a distinct work that has a beginning and an end, which results in something new and unique. An assembly line or routine back-office process is not a project. If you are creating something new or changing something, then you are probably working on a project.

What is the purpose of a project?

The purpose of a project is to bring about change. If you are working on something that will result in the status quo, you aren’t working on a project. Activities like stopping global warming, or re-opening after a pandemic, may seem like work that is meant to reduce change. In reality, these are projects that are helping the world change from a newly fractured state back to a sustainable equilibrium. 

How do you manage a project? 

Managing a project isn’t doesn’t happen simply because you are completing work any more than you can say that you are successful at managing your finances because you grocery shop every week. Project Management is a strategic discipline through which you control the time, amount of work, money, and quality of the change that you want to deliver. To manage a project: 

  1. Write down the change you wish to make. This is the scope of your project. 
  2. Write down the money and time that it will take to make this change. This is your budget and schedule.
  3. Decide whether you have enough time and money to deliver the change at the level of quality that you want. 
  4. If you can’t deliver the level of quality you want, you’ll have to adjust your scope, budget or schedule to meet expectations. 

Once you have decided on scope, budget, schedule, and quality level – start the work. Track everything in the same way that your accounting department tracks every dollar, and your payroll department monitors every hour worked. When you track your project progress, you can make changes when things start to go off the rails. 

Have a clear vision for your project (scope, budget, schedule, quality.) Keep track of what is happening to ensure that you achieve your goals.