What is project management? Everything you need to know

Tihana Rajnović / 06 May 2024
  • Industrija


The term project management and project manager were basically nonexistent until the early 1900s.

But long before, even in ancient Egypt as they built the pyramids, someone had to plan the whole thing, from materials, resources, to the tasks and workforce.

Today, project management is crucial for any organization, done by project management professionals.

What is Project Management?

Project management a process of planning, executing, monitoring, and completing project goals with a team and within a defined time and budget.

Project management is everywhere! Whether organizing a birthday party or an international project with 12 different teams, they are both accomplished with the same core principles.

Applying knowledge, different skills, tools, and techniques to project activities so you can meet project requirements and goals is the core of project management.

When Do We Use Project Management?

When you have a goal you would like to achieve, but you need multiple steps or tasks to accomplish it, you have a project,

When you add a time limit and a budget, you need to carefully plan out and monitor project activities to make sure you will reach your goal.

Using principles of project management, you can plan out tasks and continually monitor progress, while managing various team members and people outside of your team such as your clients and stakeholders.

Why Do We Use Project Management?

Project management delivers results or end products that are a net positive for the team, company, or client.

To accomplish this, a lot of factors need to be managed and monitored.

Investing in good project management has a lot of benefits such as:

  • You are more likely to get the result you want
  • You get the greatest value of your resources with planned budgeting
  • Better and more coordinated team performance
  • Prevention of bottlenecks and removal of project hurdles on time
  • Better information flow within the team and towards the company and clients
  • Less of a chance of time and budget overruns

Why is Project Management Important?

Project management helps organizations simultaneously and successfully handle multiple projects at once.

It ensures quality outcomes by balancing the scope, resources, time, and budget of a project.

Effective project management boosts productivity, efficiency, and profits while improving teamwork and reducing risks.

All of that makes it essential for success.

What are Project Management Approaches?

There are three primary project management approaches:

Predictive Project Management

Predictive project management, also called traditional or conventional, is an approach best used when the project scope and requirements are clear and can be planned in detail upfront.

It emphasizes detailed planning and execution and most often follows a traditional waterfall type of project management.

Adaptive Project Management

Adaptive project management, also called agile, is best suited for uncertain projects whose requirements are likely to change during their duration.

It emphasizes an iterative and incremental approach, encouraging flexibility and collaboration, with change being a part of the process.

Hybrid Project Management

Hybrid project management is a combination of predictive and adaptive approaches and it is ideal for project with varying certainty and flexibility.

It allows for detailed planning of some project elements while leaving others open to change and flexible.

All three approaches have their benefits and best use cases, so it is up to project managers to decide which approach is best suited for their project.

What are the Types of Project Management?

In order to meet the needs of different industries, company sizes, and project complexities, different methods of project management were created.

Waterfall methodology

Waterfall is a classic project management method in which a new task is only started when the previous one is finished.

It is the best fit for a well-defined project with strict rules and little expected change such as construction.

Agile methodology

Agile is a project management method focused on small, incremental steps, ideal for projects with frequent changes.

It's commonly used in industries like software development or for launching new products.

Scrum methodology

Scrum is the most popular type of agile methodology and it works through small teams, short development cycles, regular communication, and specific roles, keeping the project organized.

Scrum is best suited for projects that have to quickly adapt to changes such as software development.

Kanban methodology

Kanban is another agile methodology that is based on project workflow visualization originating from Japan.

Kanban is best for projects with many simultaneous tasks such as manufacturing projects, but can also be used a supplemental tool for other methods.

Lean methodology

Lean is a project management method imagined for manufacturing, focusing on cutting waste and boosting efficiency.

This method is great if there is room for flexibility and the main idea is to cut cost and speed up projects.

What are the Areas of Project Management?

For effective project management, there are ten main knowledge areas that need to be managed in every step of the process.

1. Project Scope Management

Sticking to a predefined project scope is key to avoiding delays and overruns caused by extra tasks.

Scope management ensures a clear project plan, preventing unexpected changes while keeping cost down and the workflow manageable.

2. Project Schedule Management

A comprehensive schedule and plan help keep a project optimized and organized.

Schedule management creates guidelines how the project and its progress will be tracked and maintained.

3. Project Cost Management

Managing project cost is essential for representing return on investment (ROI) and avoiding surprise expenses.

Cost management enables creating a budget while regularly assessing costs help stay within budget.

4. Project Quality Management

Not only does project quality management ensure high quality of project deliverables, but it also helps deliver high work consistently, ensuring client satisfaction.

5. Project Resource Management

Making sure to use the best person for the job, meeting the needs of your team, and allocating other resources where needed are crucial for project success.

Resource management covers acquiring, allocating, and tracking all project resources.

6. Project Communication Management

Effective communication is vital for any project as it makes sure everyone is informed and on the same page.

Communication management sets guidelines for the team, clients, and stakeholders, ensuring the right information reaches the right person at the same time.

7. Project Risk Management

Projects are always exposed to risk and challenges, making them susceptible to increased workload, burnout, overruns, and possibly failure.

Risk management includes the identification, evaluation, and prevention or mitigation of project risk.

8. Project Procurement Management

Often a project has needs for outside help and resources, and managing them is crucial for smooth operations.

Procurement management helps acquire project resources, outline tasks, and handle paperwork needs for outside help such as contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

9. Project Stakeholder Management

Projects are always done for someone and with a goal in mind.

Stakeholder management is essential for identification of project stakeholders and their management based on their expectations and project roles.

10. Project Integration Management

Smooth coordination and efficiency across tasks and team members are essential for good results delivered on time.

Integration management helps create a framework that brings different project areas and teams together.

What are the Project Management Phases or Steps?

Project management occurs in certain stages, phases, or steps, together creating the project life cycle.

Project management cycle consists of five main stages: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing.

1. Project Initiation

First phase of any project includes defining the main goals, scope, budget, and timeline of the project.

In this phase, the project manager does a feasibility assessment and assembles the needed documentation in order to kick off the project.

2. Project Planning

Second project phase is planning; a crucial phase that covers key project aspects such as scheduling, defining a budget and scope, risk assessment, and identifying resource needs and stakeholders.

The project manager defines a detailed plan and prepares for the main phase of the project.

3. Project Execution

The third project phase is execution, where most project activities happen and goals are achieved.

Here, the project manager, oversees and manages all project aspects, addresses risks, solves problems, and incorporates changes as project progresses.

4. Project Monitoring

Monitoring happens periodically in order to track progress, ensure there are no budget or timeline overruns, and that all stakeholders are up to date.

Project managers create various reports, do regular status checks, and adjust the project plan if a need arises.

5. Project Closure

The last stage of project management is closure; where a project is concluded, deliverables are presented, and documentation is finalized.

What are Key Project Management Roles?

The number of people included in a single project varies, but regardless, there are typical project roles.

Key project management roles include:

Project Manager

Responsible for project success and all project aspects such as planning, execution, monitoring, and closing.

Project Team Member

All individuals that are assigned a specific project task and are responsible for its completion.


Any individual or group that is affected by a project or has self-interest in the project.

Customer or Client

Individual, group, or organization that is the main benefactor of project deliverables.

Project Sponsor

Most often an individual from higher management provides financial and organizational support.

Subject Matter Expert

Individual or group that provides specialized knowledge or skills required for a certain project task.

What is a Project Manager and What does Project Manager do?

A project manager is a person that plans, organizes, and ensures that a project is completed on time and within budget.

They are a team lead, they set goals, talk to all project participants, continually monitor task progress, and keep everything going smoothly by eliminating risk and obstacles.

Being a project manager is not easy and sometimes it requires making tough decisions to ensure project success.

What Skills do Project Managers Need?

A good project manager needs a wide array of knowledge and skills.

They need to be good at managing resources like time and money, have great people skills to help them manage people, and be able to spot potential problems before they cause damage.

Having technical knowledge, an understanding of the business, able to build good teams, resolve issues and arguments while managing changes and activities is all part of the job.

There are many technical and operational skills that are essential for effective project management, but honing certain traits can help you succeed.

  • Adaptable to changes and stressful situations is crucial, especially for agile methodologies.
  • Listening being able to listen to your team, stakeholders, clients and other participants is elemental in good project management.
  • Critical thinking helps you make crucial decisions quickly and gauge situations that arise during the whole project duration.
  • Empathy helps you understand the people you work with, making you a more effective negotiator and leader.
  • A sense of humor can help you connect with your team and lessen project associated stress.

Skills you should work on include:

Leadership skills

Project managers manage but also inspire and lead their project team. Strong leadership and a right attitude set the tone, keeping everyone motivated and engaged.

Communication skills

Good communication is key for keeping the flow of information. Making sure everyone receives the information they need when they need it is essential.

Organizational skills

Good organization is the foundation of project success and crucial in multitasking environments with many moving parts. Being able to create structure is one of the main roles of a project manager.

Risk management skills

Anticipating, spotting, and dealing with project risks before they have an impact, helps you stay within budget and on time. Proactive problem solving is an essential PM skill.

What are Project Management Tasks and Responsibilities?

Task and responsibilities of a project manager change depending on the project phase, while some remain constant throughout.

Continual PM activities include:

  • Clearly defining incremental and final project goals
  • Making sure everything is happening according to schedule
  • Planning and sticking to a budget
  • Managing human and other resources based on project needs
  • Creating reports and other documentation that records project progress
  • Evaluating risk and fixing problems as they arise
  • Directing the whole project towards a finished result

Activities according to project phases:

  • Initiation – creating the project charter and identifying key project participants
  • Planning – define the project scope and create a detailed plan with a complete structure and work breakdown including estimates, risks, strategies, and stakeholder expectations
  • Execution – overseeing tasks and the project team, handing communication, quality control, and meeting expectations
  • Monitoring – overseeing project progress, adjusting plans and strategies, and ensuring the project meets the budget, deadline, and set stakeholder expectations
  • Closing – finalizing project activities and documentation, settling budgets, delivering project outcomes, and conducting reviews