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Beginner’s Guide to Project Management

Project management is the process of guiding a team towards the completion of a defined goal while mitigating common barriers like time and budget. The project manager is also often responsible for communicating between a client and a team to address any concerns and help facilitate decision-making and compromise when problems arise.

Successful project management will ensure that the initial goals of the project have been completed on schedule while sticking to the budget and making good use of your available resources. Conflicts may arise, but the best project managers will be able to diffuse tension by helping each team member understand their unique role. Let’s dive in and learn more about the different components of project management and the skills it takes to be a quality program manager.

Five Phases of Project Management

Experts have identified five distinct phases of project management. Here, we can explore each phase separately to give you a better understanding of how the entire process comes together to form a cohesive and successful project. 

  1. Project Conception and Initiation: At the beginning of any project, the most important step is to clearly define your goal and then conduct research to better understand if the project is feasible. Team members will often use this phase to conduct individual research before coming together and deciding whether to move forward. If the project is given a “green light,” the project manager will help to create a Project Initiation Document (PID) to more clearly outline goals.

  2. Project Planning: Once the project and its objectives have been clearly defined, the project manager will work with the team to develop a concrete plan to ensure everything is implemented smoothly. This phase usually includes creating a budget, breaking down and assigning smaller projects to individual team members, and outlining a communication plan so that all stakeholders can know when to expect updates.

  3. Project Execution: This phase is arguably when the bulk of the work is completed. Aside from team members executing their assigned tasks, this stage includes a lot of status update meetings, modification of plans, and reassignment of resources depending on which task needs the most attention at a given time. A project manager will spend a lot of this phase developing tracking systems for various tasks and directing the project forward.

  4. Project Monitoring and Control: This stage primarily consists of measuring the progress of the project and ensuring that the deliverables are remaining in line with the overall goals of the plan. Measurement is usually done by the project manager assessing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like tracking the cost of resources and ensuring smaller tasks are being delivered on time. Monitoring often occurs at the same time as the execution phase, but they are each made up of unique requirements.

  5. Project Closure: At this stage, the project has been completed and it’s time to tie up any remaining loose ends. Some of these typically include settling any remaining payments with contractors that were only hired for this specific project, organizing meetings for the team to discuss how the project went overall, and possibly holding a small celebration to thank the team for their hard work. 

Qualities of a Successful Project Manager

A successful project manager will demonstrate a range of hard and soft skills that are necessary to do their job effectively. Project managers are important positions across a range of industries, so more technical skills will vary depending on the industry and type of project they are working on. However, a working knowledge of current project management software is a vital skill regardless of what field you are working in. These programs offer dashboards to help keep track of your budget, your schedule, and your team’s progress on their various assigned tasks.

In terms of soft skills required to work in project management, positive communication skills are among the most important. You need to be able to communicate with your team members so everyone understands their assignments, and you also need to provide clear expectations and updates to your clients. Conflict management is another skill that a project manager must have. You must be able to keep your team working towards a common goal regardless of interpersonal conflicts and other setbacks. Finally, a quality project manager needs to be organized and have excellent time management skills. They must be able to balance and prioritize several tasks simultaneously and keep track of important documents for quick reference. 

Take Project Management Classes with Career Centers

If you’re interested in boosting the skills you need to become a successful project manager, Career Centers offers several project management courses both remotely and in-person at their Manhattan campus. There is both an Intro and Advanced Project Management Course available to students, which are combined in the Project Management Bootcamp for those who wish to take both courses at the same time but at a discounted rate. These courses explore the theories behind different approaches to project management and will provide a thorough discussion of the five phases of project management. 

If you’re hoping to prepare for a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, Career Centers offers a four-day bootcamp to do just that. This course is taught by a PMP certified instructor and includes an exam guide and support through the PMP application process. 

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