What Is Project Management?
Megan Bell, MPM, PMP

By: Megan Bell, MPM, PMP on September 2nd, 2020

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What Is Project Management?

Project Management

If you have ever planned a family event, arranged for friends to do an activity together, completed a residential move, you have conducted project management. It is a skill set used every day across the world in countless ways, but the formal recognition of it as a profession unto itself occurred in the mid-20th century. Project Management encompasses balancing a project’s timeframe, budget and overall scope as the team works to meet its objectives. The international governing body of Project Management, Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as:

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As a career, it is not bound by industry nor geography; some studies predict 22 million project management related jobs by 2027. The job potential is a reflection of the positive impact, including increased efficiencies, realized cost-savings, and improved moral, that competent Project Managers can have within an organization.


Formal Framework of Project Management

In the professional setting, the Project Manager is responsible for determining and directing separate tasks towards the identified final deliverable; success or failure can hinge on the choices made by the Project Manager. There are multiple project management approaches, each reflective of the needs of the industry in which it is used, including Waterfall, Kanban, Agile, and Scrum. The PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is grounded in Waterfall; for that approach, the process of identifying and guiding work tasks is documented in the PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) as such:


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Each of the five phases in traditional project management, Waterfall, can be successfully completed by the Project Manager whose training and expertise reflects ten knowledge areas:


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Project Managers using any of the approaches benefit from training in the ten knowledge areas. Depending on the Project Management approach in use and the expectations of the role within a given business, the priority may be on different knowledge areas; but all are vital to helping teams work toward business goals.


Why Do Businesses Need Project Managers?

If most people have done some type of project management in their personal life, why the need for formalizing it? Because with formalized training and a sustainable process, you increase the probability of successful outcomes. Business writer Rocco Baldassarre shares in his Entrepreneur.com article a powerful listing of how businesses benefit from trained Project Managers:

1. Cut down response times.

2. Help prioritizing tasks.

3. Create a bridge between corporate functions.

4. Optimize corporate processes.

5. Keeps track of open communication.


The PMI constantly measures the impact of Project Management, and in a white paper about value, shared 80% of global executives believe having project management as a core competency helped them remain competitive. Well conducted Project Management enables companies in “…planning actionable strategies and implementing solutions to challenges as they arise...”. If there is anything we have all learned in 2020 with Covid-19, it is that change happens. As aptly put by Leyna O’Quinn in Why Organizations Need Project Management,” Without it, nothing would ever get accomplished.”


What Does A Project Manager Do Exactly?

The world’s most used job search site Indeed.com has access to millions of job descriptions and postings. From their career information resources Indeed.com offers this summary of a Project Manager’s role:

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Notice that it does not say a Project Manager must use a specific approach or framework. What’s important is that the project manager is focused on workflow and streamlining.


What Does It Take to Practice Effective Project Management?

It does not require the job title of Project Manager to need and benefit from the skills of Project Management. For yourself or those you seek to bring to your organization, consider a focus on these skills:


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Your Next Project? Elevating Your Project Management Knowledge

There is not a single path to gaining Project Management skills nor adding it as a competency to your organization’s talent pool. Yet there is data to show that it is a skill set that grows in value and provides many benefits.


For Professionals

Regardless of your current title, Project Management skills can help your career now and provide opportunities in the future. Consider that the PMI’s “Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017– 2027reports the need for 87.7 million project management oriented roles by 2027. Gain new Project Management skills, deepen existing project management skills, or a combination as long as you have them.


For Organizations

It has been reported that organizations with formalized project management methods in place enjoy reduced risks, reduced costs and improved success rates. To realize those benefits, organizations need to support the development of current talent – across roles – in the discipline of Project Management.

Project Managers’ ability to navigate changes and challenges, to maintain a steady hand in difficult times, and to motivate others towards a common goals may just make them the super heroes of the business world.

PM Fundamentals

About Megan Bell, MPM, PMP

A multi-hyphenate of corporate training, higher education, and creative agency work, Bell’s passion for connecting people to impactful information fuels an evolving career journey. Her portfolio includes conducting learning analytic research and reporting, managing a corporate mentoring program, authoring a blog series, facilitating leadership and career programs, serving on a non-profit board, and even occasional voice work. Bell’s education background encompasses UNC-Chapel Hill, Western Carolina University, and North Carolina State University.