Project management is a collective term for all planning, organisational, monitoring, controlling and finalising processes to be carried out within the framework of a project. Many content/textual components of project management are standardised, which facilitates communication between international actors.
Why is project management important?
Well-coordinated project management is associated with facilitating highly complex projects promptly using fewer resources due to a clear structure. It focuses on a clearly defined goal and how much time it takes to complete since all sub-steps are defined while documenting intermediate results. Complex projects with limited personnel and materials and a tight time frame are practically impossible to carry out without project management.
Into which phases can project management be divided?
Project management is in five phases. The start of the project is marked by the project manager critically reviewing all parameters (reason, objectives, business case, staffing, timeframe). The composition and briefing of the project team also fall into this phase, followed by project planning. In this phase, the project manager and the stakeholders work out the plans in detail. It includes precise time planning and task distribution as well as meticulous budget calculation. Any deviations that may occur in construction projects due to unexpected weather events also are taken into account.
Phase 3 is project implementation, where the actual operational work takes place. Here, project management maintains particularly close contact with the work team, suppliers and other stakeholders. The fourth phase - project monitoring - takes place in parallel. The project progression, the scheduled consumption of materials and the adherence to financial and time requirements are all monitored closely. Regular meetings with the team are obligatory.
The fifth and final phase of project management is project completion. It is a final meeting between the team leader and the project team, the handover of the project to the client and the preparation of a detailed final report. It is not uncommon for all those involved to celebrate the successful conclusion with a party.
What tasks are involved in project management?
The tasks of project management are already evident from the five phases. A detailed feasibility analysis and planning is at the beginning, followed by the preparation of a project plan that considers financial aspects like factors such as the number of workers, material procurement and the time scope of the project. Internal communication between all stakeholders - project management, work team, subcontractors and client - is as much at the heart of project management as accurate project monitoring and documentation of all progress. It must also be possible to react to crises at any time – therefore, the preparation of possible alternative plans is also part of the project manager's area of responsibility. Finally, project management involves administrative tasks such as final reports, process documentation and handover formalities.
Which project management methods are used in practice?
Agile project management's core components are flat hierarchies, the possibility of short-term process changes and very open internal team communication. The model of lean management is strictly oriented towards continuous process optimisation, customer orientation and resource conservation. The Scrum method can be assigned to agile project management, but differs from it in the following ways: With Scrum, the project plan is only roughly defined at the beginning, to adapt it daily during implementation. Based on the assumption that complex project planning cannot be planned exactly in advance, only smaller interim goals are defined. This contrasts with the rigid planning of the waterfall method, which requires a complete plan before the project begins. The advantage of this method is the high degree of planning certainty, although possible errors only become apparent very late in the project phase. There are numerous other project management models, e.g. Kanban, milestone trend analysis or the Six Sigma method.