A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Manage Projects (With Tips)

Updated 12 September 2023

Most businesses have a goal of delivering quality products and services that can meet their clients' requirements. To accomplish that goal, companies often require creating and managing multiple projects effectively. Knowing how project management works can help you work efficiently on a team project and execute the project goals while staying within the allotted budget and schedule. In this article, we discuss what project management is, explore its importance, understand how to manage projects and discover tips for effective project management.

What is project management?

Project management is a combination of tools, skills and deliverables that can ensure a project's completion and success. Each project follows a specific path that the project manager plans. For project management to be effective, it is essential to first set objectives and deadlines and use resources that meet organisational goals.

Project management helps you define deliverables, time frames and milestones for a team. It also helps a project team to plan and create reports on tasks. Apart from these benefits, project management defines a product roadmap, develops and tracks sales plans and organises the company's goals and objectives.

Related: 9 Project Management Types For A Project Manager

How to manage projects

To understand how to manage projects, follow these steps:

1. Initiate the project

Before commencing or starting any product, conducting a feasibility study can help prove whether a project is viable and determine the probability of profitability. A feasibility study includes conducting in-depth research on the project's scope and requirement, understanding the technical specifications and evaluating the project's cost-effectiveness. Also, during this step, upper management and leaders research to understand whether the return on investment (ROI) is higher than the risks associated.

Related: What Is The Project Initiation Document? (How To Create One)

If the ROI is justifiable, they proceed with the project. After receiving approval, the manager establishes achievable goals, creates proposed timelines of events and ensures a solid communication chain. A few critical aspects of the initiation stage are:

  • Managing a team: It involves creating job descriptions, outlining the objective of each position and explaining the project's benefit to every team member.

  • Finding physical space: This involves creating a physical space for the manager and other team members to work.

  • Creating documentation: In this part, the team members document the project's importance and understand the project goals.

Related: What Is A Project Manager? (Duties And Qualification)

2. Plan the project

The planning stage describes the overall scope of the project. It primarily includes gathering and analysing the requirement and creating steps based on it. It also includes another crucial part of project management, including budget, timeline and resource analysis. During this phase, the manager and other stakeholders identify potential risks and reduce them. Also, different projects require different levels of planning.

Planning is one of the most essential steps in managing a project and ensuring its success. For instance, a smaller project that spans a few weeks might require less planning when compared to a long-term project that spans many months. A few key aspects of the planning stage are:

  • Prepare a budget: Before starting a project, managers usually prepare a budget that accounts for foreseeable expenses like increasing raw material costs and labour charges.

  • Create a task list: Consider creating a list of smaller tasks to help accomplish the project goals.

  • Focus on project schedule: A project schedule includes all the deadlines for a project and can help move the project efficiently towards its deadline.

Related: 19 Essential Project Management Skills To Master

3. Execute the project

After completing the planning phase, the project moves to the execution phase. This phase includes reporting and tracking progress. During this phase, the team carries out every task outlined in the project plan. Each member work towards achieving an objective and they are likely to carry out assignments within a specified deadline. Before the team starts working on their goals, divide the larger goals into smaller achievable goals.

Managers can set deadlines for smaller goals and ensure every team member knows them. In the execution stage, it might be beneficial to conduct regular meetings to ensure team members can achieve their goals and answer questions they may face. A few key aspects of the execution stage are:

  • Cost management: For staying on budget, focus on tracking the cost of all materials and labour involved.

  • Procurement management: For achieving desired goals, managers might purchase resources from third-party vendors. Having clear communication with vendors can help you get resources within your budget and on time.

  • Collaboration management: Having open communication with every team member is essential for exchanging project-related information. It also creates a healthy work environment where every team member works to their best abilities.

Related: What Is RAID In Project Management And Why Is It Important?

4. Monitor the project

Often, the monitoring phase includes monitoring and controlling the project activities. This phase ensures that the project progresses on time and within budget. During this phase, the manager validates the project's progress and outlines any deviation. Based on the project's progress, the manager makes desired changes. Usually, the execution phase and the monitoring phase happen at the same time. A few key aspects of the monitoring stage are:

  • Conduct process monitoring: To effectively manage a product, process monitoring may allow you to maintain important aspects of the plan, like budget and timeliness.

  • Ensure schedule check: By reviewing the actual performance with the project schedule mentioned, the plan can ensure that your team operates successfully.

  • Maintain reports: Creating reports can help you track the project's overall progress. Using reports, a manager can keep stakeholders informed throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Related: Your Guide To The Strategic Management Process

5. Close the project

After the team completes all the project-related activities, the project reaches the completion phase. The team manager and stakeholders analyse the deliverables to see whether they meet the goals. When the deliverable meets the goals, they can conclude the project. The closing phase involves delivering finished products to the customers. After a customer approves the deliverables, they sign the required document. A few key aspects of the closing stage are:

  • Manage and evaluate the deliverables: When the team finishes the product execution, all the involved parties receive the deliverables.

  • Complete paperwork: After the client approves the deliverables, they sign the documents that ensure completion.

  • Perform analysis: The business stakeholders and the team analyse the deliverables to identify areas of success and those that require improvements.

Related: What Is A Burn-Up Chart? (With Definition And How To Create)

Why do employees manage projects?

Employees manage projects to achieve measurable results that align with the organisational goals and objectives. It helps keep plans organised and ensure that team members stay aligned and focused on their job responsibilities. Employees might use project management because of the following reasons:

  • creating focus

  • reducing risks

  • controlling product or service quality

  • decreasing project costs

  • encouraging teamwork

  • maximising available resources

  • encouraging collaboration and learning

Related: Core Strengths Needed To Succeed In The New World Of Work

Tips for managing a project

Here are a few tips for effectively managing a project:

  • Assess resources: Knowing the resources available with a team can help you start the project faster and efficiently.

  • Know the project's deadline: When team members know the deadline of every task and activity, they can meticulously plan every step. It helps ensure that the team stays on schedule and delivers work as expected.

  • Develop a plan: A plan includes project schedule, resources, critical path, network diagram and task workflow. Such a plan ensures that a project reaches the conclusion stage within a specified timeframe.

  • Create documentation: Documenting everything from start to finish can ensure that the manager does not miss out on important project-related aspects. It can include details about timelines, team members or deadlines.

  • Monitor progress: To complete a project, it is essential to monitor the progress of various tasks and team performance. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) can help match actual deliverables with planned deliverables.

  • Use project management software: A project management tool can help in effectively managing a project. Such software can create tasks and Gantt charts, manage project budgets and risks and track progress.

  • Prioritise tasks: When managing a project, it is beneficial to complete challenging tasks first because they might be more time-consuming. The team can complete simple tasks later in the day.

  • Communicate constantly: Successful communication between a team can keep everyone engaged and motivate them to reach the goal. Constant communication can reduce the risk of conflicts because everyone knows what to do and what not to do.

  • Delegate work based on resources: Effective delegation of work allows a manager to focus more on controlling and monitoring the project. So, it is essential to delegate tasks based on available resources.

Related: 5 Programme Management Tools To Use (With Benefits And Tips)

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