Project Management: Objectives and Importance
In brief, project management objectives are the successful development of the project’s procedures of initiation, planning, execution, regulation and closure as well as the guidance of the project team’s operations towards achieving all the agreed upon goals within the set scope, time, quality and budget standards.
Projects are temporary and, in a sense, unique endeavors. Temporary because they only happen once and have a specific duration and unique in that they are not routine enterprises, but a set of procedures intended to produce a singular product, outcome, service or result.
At the core of all projects lies the element of collaboration and communication, with all stakeholders, the clients, the project team, the organization or even the wider community. To this end, project management is where all processes meet, the central focal point from which all procedures derive, are specifically defined, scheduled and organized, following which they are communicated and assigned and subsequently followed up on and evaluated.
What are the objectives of project management, a closer look:
- The successful development and implementation of all project’s procedures. A project, regardless of its size, generally involves five distinctive phases of equal importance: Initiation, Planning and Design, Construction and Execution, Monitoring and Control, Completion. The smooth and uninterrupted development and execution of all the above phases ensures the success of a project.
- Productive guidance, efficient communication and apt supervision of the project’s team. Always keep in mind that the success or failure of a project is highly dependent on teamwork, thus, the key to success is always in collaboration. To this end, the establishment of good communication is of major importance. On one hand, information needs to be articulated in a clear, unambiguous and complete way, so everything is comprehended fully by everyone and on the other hand, is the ability to be able listen and receive constructive feedback.
- The achievement of the project’s main goal within the given constraints. The most important constraints are, Scope in that the main goal of the project is completed within the estimated Time, while being of the expected Quality and within the estimated Budget. Staying within the agreed limitations always feeds back into the measurement of a project’s performance and success.
- Optimization of the allocated necessary inputs and their application to meeting the project’s pre-defined objectives, is a matter where is always space for improvement. All processes and procedures can be reformed and upgraded to enhance the sustainability of a project and to lead the team through the strategic change process.
- Production of a complete project which follows the client’s exclusive needs and objectives. This might mean that you need to shape and reform the client’s vision or to negotiate with them as regards the project’s objectives, to modify them into feasible goals. Once the client’s aims are clearly defined they usually impact on all decisions made by the project’s stakeholders. Meeting the client’s expectations and keeping them happy not only leads to a successful collaboration which might help to eliminate surprises during project execution, but also ensures the sustainability of your professional status in the future.
Project management is a flourishing field that keeps growing in knowledge and interest at a considerable rate. Understanding project management objectives in-depth is the first step to success, as you will fully realize what it takes to be efficient, effective and competitive in a shifting, complex and at times unpredictable environment. Due to the nature of project management, which differs from typical management by the innovative, unique and multidisciplinary character of most projects, it is generally agreed that it requires its own tools and techniques. Keep in mind that these tools and techniques do not apply to all projects, so make sure you choose wisely and adjust accordingly.
1. Strategic Alignment
Project management is important because it ensures what is being delivered, is right, and will deliver real value against the business opportunity.
Every client has strategic goals and the projects that we do for them advance those goals. Project management is important because it ensures there’s rigor in architecting projects properly so that they fit well within the broader context of our client’s strategic frameworks Good project management ensures that the goals of projects closely align with the strategic goals of the business.
In identifying a solid business case, and being methodical about calculating ROI, project management is important because it can help to ensure the right thing is delivered, that’s going to deliver real value.
Of course, as projects progress, it is possible that risks may emerge, that turn into issues or even the business strategy may change. But a project manager will ensure that the project is part of that realignment. Project management really matters here because projects that veer off course, or which fail to adapt to the business needs may end up being expensive and/or unnecessary.
Project management is important because it brings leadership and direction to projects.
Without project management, a team can be like a ship without a rudder; moving but without direction, control or purpose. Leadership allows and enables a team to do their best work. Project management provides leadership and vision, motivation, removing roadblocks, coaching and inspiring the team to do their best work.
Project managers serve the team but also ensure clear lines of accountability. With a project manager in place there’s no confusion about who’s in charge and in control of whatever’s going on in a project. Project managers enforce process and keep everyone on the team in line too because ultimately they carry responsibility for whether the project fails or succeeds.
3. Clear Focus & Objectives
Project management is important because it ensures there’s a proper plan for executing on strategic goals.
Where project management is left to the team to work out by themselves, you’ll find teams work without proper briefs, projects lack focus, can have vague or nebulous objectives, and leave the team not quite sure what they’re supposed to be doing, or why.
As project managers, we position ourselves to prevent such a situation and drive the timely accomplishment of tasks, by breaking up a project into tasks for our teams. Oftentimes, the foresight to take such an approach is what differentiates good project management from bad. Breaking up into smaller chunks of work enables teams to remain focused on clear objectives, gear their efforts towards achieving the ultimate goal through the completion of smaller steps and to quickly identify risks, since risk management is important in project management.
Often a project’s goals have to change in line with a materializing risk. Again, without dedicated oversite and management, a project could swiftly falter but good project management (and a good project manager) is what enables the team to focus, and when necessary refocus, on their objectives.
4. Realistic Project Planning
Project management is important because it ensures proper expectations are set around what can be delivered, by when, and for how much.
Without proper project management, budget estimates and project delivery timelines can be set that are over-ambitious or lacking in analogous estimating insight from similar projects. Ultimately this means without good project management, projects get delivered late, and over budget.
Effective project managers should be able to negotiate reasonable and achievable deadlines and milestones across stakeholders, teams, and management. Too often, the urgency placed on delivery compromises the necessary steps, and ultimately, the quality of the project’s outcome.
We all know that most tasks will take longer than initially anticipated; a good project manager is able to analyze and balance the available resources, with the required timeline, and develop a realistic schedule. Project management really matters when scheduling because it brings objectivity to the planning.
A good project manager creates a clear process, with achievable deadlines, that enables everyone within the project team to work within reasonable bounds, and not unreasonable expectations.
5. Quality Control
Projects management is important because it ensures the quality of whatever is being delivered, consistently hits the mark.
Projects are also usually under enormous pressure to be completed. Without a dedicated project manager, who has the support and buy-in of executive management, tasks are underestimated, schedules tightened and processes rushed. The result is bad quality output. Dedicated project management ensures that not only does a project have the time and resources to deliver, but also that the output is quality tested at every stage.
Good project management demands gated phases where teams can assess the output for quality, applicability, and ROI. Project management is of key importance to Quality Assurance because it allows for a staggered and phased process, creating time for teams to examine and test their outputs at every step along the way.
6. Risk Management
Project management is important because it ensures risks are properly managed and mitigated against to avoid becoming issues.
Risk management is critical to project success. The temptation is just to sweep them under the carpet, never talk about them to the client and hope for the best. But having a robust process around the identification, management and mitigation of risk is what helps prevent risks from becoming issues.
Good project management practice requires project managers to carefully analyze all potential risks to the project, quantify them, develop a mitigation plan against them, and a contingency plan should any of them materialize. Naturally, risks should be prioritized according to the likelihood of them occurring, and appropriate responses are allocated per risk. Good project management matters in this regard, because projects never go to plan, and how we deal with change and adapt our plans is a key to delivering projects successfully.
7. Orderly Process
Project management is important because it ensures the right people do the right things, at the right time – it ensures proper project process is followed throughout the project lifecycle.
Surprisingly, many large and well-known companies have reactive planning processes. But reactivity – as opposed to proactivity – can often cause projects to go into survival mode. This is a when teams fracture, tasks duplicate, and planning becomes reactive creating inefficiency and frustration in the team.
Proper planning and process can make a massive difference as the team knows who’s doing what, when, and how. Proper process helps to clarify roles, streamline processes and inputs, anticipate risks, and creates the checks and balances to ensure the project is continually aligned with the overall strategy. Project management matters here because without an orderly, easily understood process, companies risk project failure, attrition of employee trust and resource wastage.
8. Continuous Oversight
Project management is important because it ensures a project’s progress is tracked and reported properly.
Status reporting might sound boring and unnecessary – and if everything’s going to plan, it can just feel like documentation for documentation’s sake. But continuous project oversight, ensuring that a project is tracking properly against the original plan, is critical to ensuring that a project stays on track.
When proper oversight and project reporting is in place it makes it easy to see when a project is beginning to deviate from its intended course. The earlier you’re able to spot project deviation, the easier it is to course correct.
Good project managers will regularly generate easily digestible progress or status reports that enable stakeholders to track the project. Typically these status reports will provide insights into the work that was completed and planned, the hours utilized and how they track against those planned, how the project is tracking against milestones, risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies and any outputs of the project as it proceeds.
This data is invaluable not only for tracking progress but helps clients gain the trust of other stakeholders in their organization, giving them easy oversight of a project’s progress.
9. Subject Matter Expertise
Project management is important because someone needs to be able to understand if everyone’s doing what they should.
With a few years experience under their belt, project managers will know a little about a lot of aspects of delivering the projects they manage. They’ll know everything about the work that their teams execute; the platforms and systems they use, and the possibilities and limitations, and the kinds of issues that typically occur.
Having this kind of subject matter expertise means they can have intelligent and informed conversations with clients, team, stakeholders, and suppliers. They’re well equipped to be the hub of communication on a project, ensuring that as the project flows between different teams and phases of work, nothing gets forgotten about or overlooked.
Without subject matter expertise through project management, you can find a project becomes unbalanced – the creatives ignore the limitations of technology or the developers forget the creative vision of the project. Project management keeps the team focussed on the overarching vision and brings everyone together forcing the right compromises to make the project a success.
10. Managing and Learning from Success and Failure
Project management is important because it learns from the successes and failures of the past.
Project management can break bad habits and when you’re delivering projects, it’s important to not make the same mistakes twice. Project managers use retrospectives or post project reviews to consider what went well, what didn’t go so well and what should be done differently for the next project.
This produces a valuable set of documentation that becomes a record of “dos and don’ts” going forward, enabling the organization to learn from failures and success. Without this learning, teams will often keep making the same mistakes, time and time again. These retrospectives are great documents to use at a project kickoff meeting to remind the team about failures such as underestimating projects, and successes such as the benefits of a solid process or the importance of keeping time sheet reporting up to date!