What are the project management fundamentals

The project management fundamentals are where every project manager should start.

They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a new skill – and project management definitely falls into the “practice makes perfect” category. Mastering the project management fundamentals takes time due to the differing detail of every project.

Whether you’re a seasoned manager or new to the field, it’s important to review the basics. Reflect on how you can best assist your employees throughout each project.

What is project management?

Project management is any oversight that a project receives, from outline through to completion.

That means that the job of a project manager is ongoing and requires a lot of attention.

There are many project management principles, but the main purpose is to create a project plan. This will include the procedures and processes necessary to get the job done.

As a project manager, you will be initiating, planning, delegating, and monitoring projects. You will be in charge of making sure teammates are collaborating and following the right procedures.

Is project management something you can automate?

We recommend managers use their skills and experience to work with tools, rather than relying solely on them.

Getting hands-on experience and frequent progress updates while managing is key. This will help you support your team and reduce the likelihood of risks along the way.

When automating parts of management, make sure you design the workflow to save time.

Supplement your work rather than replacing it as a whole.

Stay up to date with how the project is progressing and always schedule the time to review.

Picture of three people organizing their project using the project management principles

The main project management principles

Let’s get into the main principles that make up project management and what responsibilities they entail:

Defining the project

When you are going through all the project management fundamentals, you must first define the project itself. This means understanding the purpose, goals, and steps that will lead to success.

To master this principle, you must develop a clear understanding of the project along with its processes and procedures. Clearly presenting this information to your team will help you move along to the next phase of the project.

Risk management

Every project has associated risks. That’s why one marker of good project management is whether or not a risk analysis has been conducted.

By checking risk management off of your to-do list, your team will have more structure and stability.

Therefore if a problem arises, it has already been anticipated and can be handled appropriately.

Creating the timeline

Part of managing a plan is making sure it stays within a reasonable timeline. Setbacks can happen, but these delays should have been up for consideration during the risk management phase.

The longer a project takes to complete, the more budget it will need. Make sure each project’s timeline is realistic and gives your team plenty of time to recover and continue with their tasks.

Following progress

Once a project is underway, it’s important to monitor progress. Whether this is a daily check-in or a weekly report, make sure you’re part of the process.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to monitor your team. Finding the right balance between checking in a little too frequently and being too absent can sometimes be difficult.

Ask your team members to participate in monitoring the overall progress of the project. Be open to adjusting your communication style to better fulfill their needs.

Setting communication standards

Part of project management is being able to manage your team. Setting high standards for communication can help make sure everything is going as planned.

If your team has open lines of communication, you can also experience a boost in employee productivity. Team members will excel when they know their personal milestones and how to accomplish them.

Good communication is one of the main pillars of a well-done project.

The Project Management Institute deemed communication the “life’s blood to project management” because of how important it is to keep a project on track in the face of delays, questions, complications, and risks.

Quality assurance

It’s rare for someone to get something completely right on their first try. This is true for even the best professionals out there.

That’s why quality assurance is another major part of project management. It is important to have regular check-ins and an understanding of the project’s overall needs. This will help push your team to create a great product to a high quality.

Changes suggested during quality assurance checks can be as simple as fixing a typo or as complicated as starting over. With great communication and a keen eye, you can make changes early on in the process to avoid later problems.

Updating the plan as needed

At this point in the project management process, you probably have a good idea of how things will get done. But what happens if a scenario from your risk analysis becomes reality?

Being flexible is a must for project managers. If you keep a close eye on the project’s progression, you’ll be able to quickly update the plan and take an alternate direction if needed.

The longer a project takes to complete, the more likely it is to run over the budget. If something goes wrong, you’ll want to make sure that your response time is as fast as possible to avoid lengthening the timeline. This is why staying up to date with the details of a project is so important.

A group of colleagues updating their project management plan

Team management

The final major principle of project management is the ability to manage.

As a project manager, you will have to view the project at a macro and micro level. Your responsibilities will require that you work closely with your team. As well as looking at the broader picture to see how well the project is functioning as a whole.

Make sure you are matching tasks to the person with the best skillset to work effectively and quickly.

Set up collaborations with the departments that should be working together. Encourage frequent check-ins on a public space, so that team-to-team communication can also remain open.

If someone is struggling or isn’t the right fit, you should be able to step in and support.

How you can easily understand project management fundamentals and fit it into a company framework

The fundamentals of project management cover a wide variety of responsibilities.

Project managers must balance the scope, timeline, risks, and quality.

Creating a framework that reinforces the main project management principles will give your team the freedom to innovate and keep things running smoothly.

On a grander scale, effective project management means being able to apply those principles and processes into a framework.

Make the best use of your resources and knowledge to build a system for success.

A neon sign saying change and referring to project management change

By Stephanie Watkins

May 1, 2018


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