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Project management

What is a project in project management?

Danielle Tawfik 7 min read
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Everyone has a vague idea of what a project is, but how do you create and complete projects that help move your organization toward continuous growth and success?

With many companies failing to meet their desired project goals, we think it’s time for a primer on what a project actually consists of, along with some tools and tips to manage them efficiently.

What is a project?

A project is a group of tasks and subtasks that need to be completed to achieve an goal.

An organization’s goal could be more conversions, launching a company website, updating existing apps or features, delivering products to clients, etc.

Every project is temporary, meaning it must have a defined start and end date.

For successful project completion, you need someone to plan and delegate tasks, define deadlines, monitor progress, and make tweaks along the way. This individual is known as a project manager (PM).

What are important elements of a project?

Each project has the following elements:

Goals: these are desired outcomes that must be achieved by a predefined time. For example, the project goal could be to “launch the app by March 10” or “gain X new leads by September.”

Tasks: tasks are the project activities that are assigned to team members who must complete them before their deadlines.

Timelines: timelines indicate clear start and end dates for individual tasks. They also help project managers visualize a project in its entirety.

Milestones: milestones are important events along a project’s timeline and are used to monitor progress. Examples can include obtaining funding, getting approval from a key stakeholder, or entering the testing phase for a new app.

Resources: resources are anything you need to deliver a project. These include people, money, supplies, and more.

Deliverables: a deliverable is what you produce during the project. It can be reports, content, products, apps, or any other item that the client has asked for.

Budget: budgets are the total cost of a project.

Stakeholders: stakeholders are individuals who are involved in a project. Internal stakeholders can include project managers and team members. External stakeholders can include contractors and suppliers.

Acceptance criteria: acceptance criteria are the conditions that a project must meet for a client to accept (e.g., a mobile app has to work with iOS and Android devices).

Once all of these elements have been defined, they are compiled to form a project plan. The plan then acts as a guide for project control and execution.

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How to manage a project successfully?

Managing a project is by no means easy. A single misstep can (and often does) lead to missed deadlines. In fact, only 29% of organizations say they mostly or always deliver projects on time.

So how can you effectively manage a project from start to finish? And how can you coordinate individual tasks and keep things on schedule?

The process of planning projects and leading teams toward successful project completion is known as project management.

While each team can define a successful project in their own way, here are 5 tips for project management:

1. Proper planning

A vital part of the project management process is to build a project plan that helps the team meet their objective as efficiently as possible. PMs need to pick the right project management methodology, give their team the right tools, and keep an eye on the project budget.

Good project planning also involves flexibility since priorities are likely to change once the project starts.

2. Pick the right team members

Managers must pick the right team members to perform critical roles in a project. This could mean choosing employee X to finish a significant task, choosing team members A and B to be in charge of a particular project phase, or in general, assigning tasks to the right people.

3. Clear communication

For a project manager, good communication means everyone on your team has a clear idea of project goals, progress, tasks, and any project-related updates. It’s also equally important for team members to communicate with each other effectively. A software that centralizes all work-related communication — like monday.com — is ideal for this.

4. Use milestones to track progress

Milestones are indicators of project progress. When milestones are reached on time, it indicates that your project team is on track. Missed or delayed milestones indicate that managers and project team leaders need to re-evaluate key elements to identify and solve any issues.

5. Evaluate performance and make changes

Real-time data on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is crucial for project control. KPIs in project management are generally related to timeline, budget, quality, and effectiveness. But, more than half (54%) of surveyed project managers did not have access to real-time project KPIs. PMs need to use software that provides real-time project data so they can identify and solve issues promptly.

Project framework vs project methodology

What is a project framework?

A project framework maps out standardized processes, tools and templates you’ll need to manage a project from start to finish.

Think of it as a set of instructions that your team will follow to achieve a specific outcome. It usually consists of 3 elements: project lifecycle, project control cycle, tools and templates.

If you’ve been involved in a project that was completed on time without going over budget or running into major issues, it’s thanks to the project management framework that was used.

The framework you choose will largely depend on the complexity of the project and your personal preferences.

Read more in our detailed guide about project management frameworks and how to choose the most suitable one for your organization, team or projects.

What is project methodology?

Let’s look at how a project framework differs from a project methodology as these are often mixed up.

A project methodology is the set of principles you’ll follow to manage a project.

It’s more strict and formal than a framework. A project methodology helps project managers to manage the project work and facilitate team collaboration.

For a complete breakdown of each, check out our article on the top project management methodologies.

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How monday.com helps you manage projects

Project frameworks provide a tried-and-tested method to manage a project. But a framework alone isn’t enough — you need project management software to organize your work.

monday.com is a powerful Work OS with an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and track your projects in one place.

Our platform facilitates collaboration across teams, so you can reduce tedious meetings and eliminate back-and-forth emails.

Here’s an example of how teams use monday.com to collaborate in real-time:

Communicate with all stakeholders over one shared platform to move projects forward.

You can also attach documents to your boards and share them with your team. These collaboration features help keep everyone on the same page.

The fact that everything is kept in one platform also cuts back on the need to constantly switch between applications.

And with different data visualization options including Kanban, Gantt, Timeline, Calendar, and more, you can visualize and monitor project progress exactly how you want to.

Keeping projects on schedule with float management

Projects enable businesses to respond to changing environments and meet the needs of their customers. But keeping things on track takes a lot of time and effort, especially for projects that have work spread out across different teams.

Project methodologies like Scrum and Kanban lay the groundwork for teams to manage and deliver projects from start to finish. No matter what you choose, you’ll need project management software like monday.com to keep everything organized.

A great place to start to put together a project plan and get everyone on the same page is our project management plan template. You can use the template as is or customize any aspect of it to fit your project workflow.

Try it out for free now, the first 2 weeks are on us!

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Originally from New York, Danielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at monday.com. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her playing with her 100-pound rescue dog or catching a spontaneous flight to explore a new country.

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