What is Project Management? A Beginner's Guide


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Praise Iwuh

July 03, 2023

What is Project Management? A Beginner's Guide


If you are looking to lead and manage projects, then project management is a must-have skill. Regardless of the size or complexity of the project, project management plays a crucial role in its success. Using different methods and tools, project management helps you carefully plan and execute a project from start to finish. Hence, whether you're planning an event, launching a new product, or working on a construction project, you can accomplish your goals with project management. And if you are a beginner, this article will explain what you need to know about project management. You will also get to learn about the basics of project management, the different phases of a project, the different roles and responsibilities of a project manager, and the different tools and techniques that can be used to manage projects. Ready? Let’s delve in!

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Definition of Project Management
  • Key Concepts and Principles of Project Management
  • Role of a Project Manager
  • Importance of Project Management
  • Types of Projects
  • Examples of Projects
  • How to Create a Project Management Plan
  • FAQs
  • Conclusion

Definition of Project Management

Project management entails planning, organising, and controlling resources and activities to achieve specific objectives within a given timeframe and budget. It involves breaking down challenging tasks into more straightforward activities, creating schedules, allocating resources, managing risks, and monitoring progress to ensure the successful completion of a project.

Project managers apply their knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to create, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close projects. Project management involves various areas, including defining the project's scope, setting objectives, creating the breakdown of tasks, managing resources, planning schedules, managing budgets, coordinating team members, monitoring progress, and being flexible with changes.

Key Concepts and Principles of Project Management

Project Scope: Involves defining the project's boundaries, objectives, and everything needed to succeed. It helps to determine what will be added and removed from the project.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Breaking down the project into smaller, simpler parts, known as work packages. It helps to organise and understand the tasks needed for completion.

Project Schedule: Creating a schedule means planning what you need to do, figuring out how long each thing will take, and understanding which things must happen before others can happen. It helps to plan when a project will start and end while ensuring projects get finished on time.

Risk Management: It helps in knowing about things that could go wrong during a project and coming up with clever ideas to avoid or fix those problems. To ensure smooth project completion, the project team should actively monitor risks throughout the project.

Communication and Stakeholder Management: Good communication ensures stakeholders are well-informed about what's happening. It's also important to listen to their ideas and thoughts to ensure everyone is going in the same direction to achieve target goals.

Quality Management: Ensuring things are done well is important during a project. You have to ensure everything meets a high standard of quality. Quality management means planning how to do things, actually doing them, and checking to ensure they are done properly to get good results.

Role of a Project Manager

A project manager is responsible for overseeing the entire project lifecycle, from start to finish. Their role includes:

  • Defining project objectives and success criteria.
  • Planning and organising project activities.
  • Sharing resources and managing budgets.
  • Coordinating and leading project team members.
  • Monitoring progress and ensuring project goals are achieved.
  • Communicating with stakeholders and managing their expectations.
  • Identifying and reducing risks.
  • Adapting to changes and implementing corrective actions when necessary.

Importance of Project Management

The importance of project management cannot be overstated. Some of its essentials are stated below;

A. Efficient Resource Utilisation: Project management helps you to use resources well, which means using them best. And this includes managing time, money, materials, and people involved in the project. By carefully planning and sharing resources for specific tasks, project managers can ensure that resources are used properly, wastes are reduced, and productivity is improved. And this leads to cost savings and optimised use of available resources.

B. Clear Project Goals and Objectives: Project management involves setting clear goals and objectives for the project, and this helps define what needs to be accomplished and provides a clear direction for the project team. Everyone can join their efforts and work towards a common purpose when they understand the goals and objectives. Clear goals also help measure progress and determine whether the project is on track to achieve its goals.

C. Improved Communication and Collaboration: Constant communication and collaboration are important in project management. Project managers plan regular communication among team members, stakeholders, and relevant people, ensuring everyone is well-informed about project progress, changes, and important decisions. Improved communication leads to better collaboration, as team members can share ideas, provide feedback, and work together towards project success. It helps prevent misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and create a positive working environment.

D. Effective Risk Management: Project management helps you to be prepared for things that might go wrong. Risks are like surprises that can happen during a project. Project managers think ahead and make plans to handle these surprises. They find ways to reduce the problems and ensure the project goes well, thereby helping to prevent things from going wrong and increasing the chances of project success.

E. Timely Project Completion: Another good thing about project management is that it helps to complete projects on time. Project managers make a schedule and set deadlines. They monitor how things are going and make changes if needed. This way, you can finish your projects within schedule. For clients, it's essential to finish their projects on time so everyone is satisfied.

Types of Projects

There are different ways to manage projects, depending on the type of project you're working on. Here are two common types: traditional project management and agile project management.

Traditional Project Management

This way of managing projects follows a step-by-step plan. It's like doing things in order, one after another. It works well for projects with clear and steady plans, where you know what you need to do from the beginning. Under this, we have:

Waterfall Methodology: Like a waterfall, water flows down in a straight line. With the waterfall method, you should finish one part of the project before moving to the next. It involves different stages, which include planning, designing, building, testing, and finally, finishing the project.

Sequential Project Phases: Projects are divided into different parts or phases. Each phase has its own goals and tasks to complete. For example, if you're constructing a building, the phases might include preparing the ground, making the base, building the structure, working on the electricity, and then putting in the final touches. It's like following a clear order to complete each step.

Agile Project Management

This way of managing projects is particularly useful for projects that can be changed quickly and easily. They include the following approaches;

Iterative and Incremental Approach: Agile projects are divided into smaller parts or within timeframes. Each step involves planning, carrying out, and reviewing the work done. It allows frequent corrections and improvements based on feedback received during each step. This approach enables teams to respond quickly to changes and improve with each task until the whole project is completed.

Scrum and Kanban Frameworks: These are unique approaches used in agile project management. Under Scrum, you can divide the work into short periods called sprints. It emphasises teamwork and regular communication through daily meetings. Scrum provides a flexible and easy way to manage projects. For Kanban, it is a visual framework that helps teams manage their work by viewing tasks on a board. You can see what tasks you are working on, what is completed, and what needs to be prioritised at any given moment, and this will provide you with a clear overview of the project's progress and help you stay on top of your work.

Examples of Projects

Projects can be found in various industries and fields. Let us explore a few examples to understand how people apply project management can be applied in different fields.

A. Construction Projects: Construction projects involve building structures like houses, bridges, or office buildings. Construction project managers are in charge of tasks such as site preparation, employing contractors, managing timelines, ensuring safety, and coordinating different tradespeople. They ensure the project falls within budget, meets quality standards, and follows the rules.

B. Software Development Projects: These focus on creating computer programs or applications. Project managers in software development manage teams of programmers, designers, and testers. They set goals for the project, allocate resources, manage timelines, and ensure that the software meets client demands. They also monitor the project's progress and enhance communication among team members.

C. Marketing Campaigns: These involve promoting products or services to attract customers. Project managers in marketing campaigns work with teams to plan and execute advertising strategies, develop content, coordinate social media activities, and measure campaign success. They ensure the campaign reaches the right people, fits the brand's message, and achieves marketing objectives.

D. Event Planning: These projects involve organising and managing special events such as conferences, weddings, or concerts. Project managers in event planning handle tasks such as selecting a venue, developing a budget, logistics, coordinating vendors, and ensuring a smooth flow of events. They make sure everything is ready and that people have a great time.

How to Create a Project Management Plan

Wondering how you can create your own project management plan? We have got you covered. Using the steps highlighted below, you are on your way to developing a project management plan of yours. Check the steps out!

  • First, define the project: What is the project? What are its goals and objectives? What are the deliverables? These are pertinent questions you need to answer.
  • Identify the stakeholders: Who are the people or groups who will be affected by the project? What are their needs and expectations?
  • Create a work breakdown structure (WBS): This is a hierarchical decomposition of the project into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Estimate the time and resources needed for each task: With your estimation, you get to create a realistic timeline and budget for the project.
  • Develop a project schedule: This document shows the sequence and dependencies of the tasks in the project.
  • Create a project budget: This is a document that shows the estimated costs of the project.
  • Identify and manage risks: Every project has risks. Identify the risks that could impact your project and develop plans to mitigate them.
  • Communicate with stakeholders: Keep stakeholders informed of the project's progress and any changes to the plan.
  • Track the project's progress: Use a project management tool to track the project's progress and identify any areas where the project is off track.
  • Make adjustments as needed: As the project progresses, you may need to make adjustments to the plan. Be flexible and willing to adapt to changes.
  • Close out the project: Once the project is complete, document the results and lessons learned.

Read: Product Owner VS Product Manager. How to Become One


What is project management guide?  

A project management guide is a set of instructions and principles that help individuals or teams effectively plan, organize, execute, and control projects from start to finish. It provides a structured approach to managing projects and offers guidance on how to handle various aspects, such as defining project goals, identifying tasks and resources, creating schedules, monitoring progress, managing risks, and communicating with stakeholders.

What is the main purpose of project management?  

The main purpose of project management is to ensure the successful completion of projects. Project management provides a structured approach to effectively plan, organise, execute, and control projects from start to finish. It aims to achieve specific goals within defined constraints, such as time, budget, and resources.

What is the project life cycle?  

The project life cycle refers to the stages that a project goes through from its initiation to its closure. It is a framework that helps organize and manage the various phases of a project in a structured manner.

What are the four levels of project success?  

  • Project Management Success: This level of success is achieved when the project is completed on time, on budget, and within scope. This is the most basic level of success, and it is often the only level that is considered by project managers.
  • Repeatable Success: This level of success is achieved when the project is completed on time, on budget, within scope, and in a way that can be repeated. This level of success is more difficult to achieve than project management success, but it is important for projects that are expected to be repeated.
  • Project Success: This level of success is achieved when the project meets the needs of the stakeholders. This level of success is more difficult to achieve than repeatable success, but it is the ultimate goal of all projects.
  • Strategic Success: This level of success is achieved when the project contributes to the overall success of the organization. This level of success is the most difficult to achieve, but it is the most important.

What are the five basic processes of project management?  

  • Initiation: This is where the project is defined and approved. The project manager is typically appointed during this phase. The project scope, objectives, and deliverables are defined. The project budget and timeline are also estimated.
  • Planning: This is where the details of the project are planned. The project schedule, budget, and resources are finalised.
  • Execution: This is where the project is executed according to the plan. The project team works to complete the project tasks and deliverables.
  • Monitoring and Controlling: This is where the project is monitored and controlled to ensure that it meets the objectives. The project manager takes corrective action as needed to keep the project on track.
  • Closure: This is where the project is closed. The project deliverables are accepted by the stakeholders. The project team is disbanded. The project documentation is archived.


By embracing project management principles, beginners can gain valuable skills and knowledge to manage projects of various sizes successfully. Thus, whether you're working on a small task or embarking on a large project, project management is a valuable skill set to develop and apply for successful outcomes.

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