Project management is a term that encompasses a lot of different activities and can be very complicated to understand. It’s much easier to understand when you break it down into its separate parts and activities. These activities can be categorized into some fundamental project management principles. Read about some of these project management principles below and learn how to use them to manage your projects more successfully.
7 Key Principles of Project Management
1. Project Structure
Structure is the first project management principle you need to consider when starting a new project. Project structure is based on three parts: time, resources, and your project goal. Your project goal is the reason that your project exists in the first place. This is the starting point for any project from which you begin to plan and define the project’s structure. After you know what the goal is, you can begin to determine the time and resources that are needed to achieve that goal.
2. Project Definition
The project definition phase comes after the structure of the project has been determined. It’s up to the project manager to clearly define the project and how the team will complete it. It’s easy for the definition of a project to get confused because of the involvement of too many stakeholders with too many different opinions. This is why the project manager has to define what the project is and make sure that the whole project team is on the same page and committed so that they can work efficiently towards the goal.
3. Clear Milestones
Once your project has a clear purpose and definition, you need to ask yourself what the specific shorter-term goals and objectives are that you can set as milestones. You should always make these goals SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your project will greatly benefit from having these clear milestones defined to help keep the work organized.
Transparency means that you honestly and consistently report the project’s progress to your stakeholders. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to provide regular project management reports that contain all the relevant details about the project’s progress as it relates to the structure, definition, and milestones. You don’t need to provide every little detail, but it is important to include a general overview of the status, schedule, budget, and milestones.
Communication is a huge principle of project management. As project manager, you need to be able to communicate effectively with both the project sponsors and the project team. You need to set up a clear channel of communication between yourself and project stakeholders so that you can efficiently manage the project and implement any changes. Clear communication will ensure that any project decisions are understood by everyone.
6. Risk Management
Project managers are responsible not only for identifying potential risks to a project’s success, but also for putting in place measures to deal with those risks as they arise. Every project has risks that can impede it from reaching its ultimate goal. You need to evaluate what these risks are before you begin a project, and then create a plan to resolve issues before they turn into project-ending problems.
7. Accountability and Responsibilities
Having clearly defined responsibilities will make sure that everyone on the project team is held accountable. For example, the project manager is responsible for defining the project, setting clear goals, reporting, communication, and risk management, among other things. Every team member should have equally clearly-defined responsibilities, so if something is not going according to plan, you can identify issues easily and fix them to get the project back on track.
These are just some of the key project management principles. The list could go on and on. Project management is a complex concept, but if you consider these 7 principles of project management, you will be well on your way to being a more successful project manager. Check out our guide to project management here if you want to read more project management content!