Pursuing a goal together as a team, solving a problem or completing a large task – that requires good project management. Otherwise chaos threatens instead of successful results. Companies have recognized the advantages of project work and are increasingly relying on them. Knowledge in project management is accordingly in demand. We explain what defines project management, which methods are particularly popular and which tips will make your project a success.
Definition: What Is Project Management?
Project management includes the initiation, planning, control, organization, implementation and control as well as the completion of projects. It is an integral part of the work organization in many companies in order to achieve the best results in a complex and global work environment.
5 Phases In Project Management
The project management tasks are part of the management tasks or are taken over by a special project manager superordinate to the team. Typically, each project is divided into five phases:
In the first phase, the framework conditions for the entire project are clarified. Important points are the definition of goals, an initial initial analysis including possible risks and rough planning.
A concrete plan is then made for later implementation. It is planned in detail, the team composition and development as well as the distribution of tasks and resources are in the foreground. In this phase, the time frame that is set for goals and (partial) tasks is also specified more precisely.
Now it’s time to work, work, work. Every team member knows their tasks and puts them into practice. This requires open and regular communication . How far are the individual areas? Where are there problems or delays? Can the deadlines set be met? Can employees be supported?
Project control is more than a phase. It should be seen as an ongoing control throughout the implementation. Documentation, quality management and compliance with specifications, deadlines and budgets are part of the success control. Control is important for reporting to customers, clients or even the management level in the company.
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As the last measure in project management, the project is completed. The tasks are finally checked and approved, the final results are presented and a final discussion about the course of the project takes place.
Benefits of Project Work
Work on individual projects makes up an ever larger share of the overall tasks for employees. The reasons for the increasing popularity of project work are its advantages:
In addition to the normal, daily work, projects offer the opportunity to gain new experience . We work together with other areas and think outside the box. The ability to work in a team is also strengthened through project work, as it is a challenge to achieve a goal together with new colleagues in a team.
Many employees lose sight of the long-term goal in day-to-day business and only do their job according to regulations. Goal-oriented work in projects, on the other hand, opens up the possibility of tracking the progress of the project and understanding how your own contribution is driving the team forward. That increases motivation .
The planning necessary for a project also creates structure and order in the working methods of the employees involved. This ability is often transferred to other areas of responsibility, which can increase overall performance .
Project Management: Methods At a Glance
Anyone who deals with project management quickly realizes that there cannot be just one method that applies equally to all projects. For project managers, this means using different methods to achieve the greatest success for the team and the task. A combination of different methods is also popular in order to combine the advantages of several approaches.
Our overview shows popular methods in project management:
The waterfall method is one of the classics in project management. The name describes the procedure very clearly. The individual steps are processed one after the other. Once the previous task has been completed, the focus is on the following ToDo. In addition to the image of a waterfall, the idea of a staircase (each step a phase) also fits well. The waterfall method is known for project management in software development, but can basically be used for projects that are divided into individual tasks or phases that run one after the other.
Agile Project Management
The concept of agile project management also comes from software development. The term summarizes several methods that follow the same approach: A greater flexibility is to be achieved in order to break up the rigid functioning of old models. The focus is on communication, fast and lean processes, transparency between different tasks and short-term goals instead of months-long projects.
In recent years, agile methods have become more and more popular in project management and in the rest of the world of work. The methods include:
Scrum is based on a clear assumption: Many projects are far too complex to define and plan all steps. Therefore, with Scrum, various interim results are defined in a plan (product backlog), which are to be achieved in certain processes (sprints) and which are checked and adjusted during the project.
After each sprint an intermediate product should be achieved, on the basis of which the next intermediate goal is set.
The basic idea from software development: The focus is on solving the programming task in order to always adapt the product to the current needs of the customer. The formal procedure is initially put in the background. An important pillar is communication between all those involved. In this way, solutions are worked out quickly instead of spending long hours doing other things.
Lean Project Management
This project management method focuses on two aspects: It should create added value for the customer and at the same time waste as little as possible. The economical use of resources relates not only to material goods such as money or machines, but also to immaterial factors such as working hours .
Project Management Training
Working on projects sounds exciting and varied and you can imagine a career in the profession? Then there are different options:
Course of Study
There are various courses of study at universities that prepare explicitly for work in project management – some with an international focus. Even with an economics degree, you have good prospects in the field of project management. However, a degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for work.
also experience with appropriate practice can lead to project management. Here you do not plan your entire career in this direction right away, but qualify yourself through your work and further training.
Universities, academies and other educational centers offer numerous courses, advanced and advanced training courses in the field of project management. There you will learn the basics and methods to apply them in later practice.
Project Management Tips
Successful project management doesn’t just mean choosing the right method and sticking to the guidelines. In addition, both the project manager and the other employees in the project should observe a few rules of conduct in order to make the cooperation successful.
We have 6 tips for your project management:
Define Clear Goals
The definition of goals is the first step in project management and is also one of the most important. The so-called SMART method has proven itself . Goals should be specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and timed. Objectives formulated in this way help to select suitable solutions.
Also, large projects should be broken down into smaller sections. This enables better planning, increases motivation and facilitates ongoing control.
Identify Risks and Conflicts
When working together, there is always the potential for conflict . Personal differences, competing tasks, or a simple misunderstanding can lead to problems when a common goal is pursued. If these trouble spots are identified at an early stage, you can counteract them and drive the project forward.
Regular feedback appointments and meetings between those involved are essential in project management. Information needs to be shared, progress discussed, problems solved and ideas developed. A comparison between the actual and the target state can only be made through good communication. The meetings don’t have to last for hours, even short meetings help communication.
Realistically Estimate The Effort
Everything should be finished as quickly as possible and the deadlines are accordingly tight. Nevertheless, the effort and time required must be realistically estimated. There is no point if project management sets a framework of two weeks if the task takes at least four weeks. It is often better to allow a little more time at the beginning than having to extend the deadline at the end.
Develop an Emergency Plan
Even with optimal communication and teamwork, things don’t always run smoothly. Project managers should be prepared for the risk of failure of the entire project. In this case, an emergency plan is needed to save the project at least in the main or to be able to present interim results to the customer at the deadline.
The support of management and superiors is essential for a project. In order to ensure this, attention should not only be paid to communication within the team, but also to the transfer of information to higher hierarchical levels from the start. This is the only way to make important decisions quickly . The backing from the management also ensures the supply of the necessary resources – regardless of whether it is additional capital or additional labor.