Managing any project can become a slippery slope when your organization doesn’t have a solid grasp of all the moving pieces.
Project management can be a complex discipline to understand and navigate. After all, there are enough key phases, knowledge areas, and project management-specific terms to fill a glossary.
To simplify the key components of successful project management, CIO has put together this guide to understanding project management — the phases, knowledge areas, tools and more.
First, it is important to identify why the formal application of project management skills and knowledge should be a necessity for organizations: because far too many projects fail.
Project management definition
Project management is the application of specific processes, knowledge and skills, techniques and tools, as well as inputs and outputs that project managers and teams utilize to successfully meet project goals and deliverables.
Project management goals
As a high-level strategic body, project management professionals first and foremost help drive, guide, and execute company-identified value-added goals.
These goals should include:
- identifying and executing high-impact, high-visibility initiatives
- building a framework that shows how the PMO or EPMO aligns with strategic enterprise objectives
- acquiring the right people, knowledge, and skills
- providing senior managers with simple, unambiguous information
- reporting on what the business really cares about
- highlighting PMO or EPMO achievements
- ensuring the PMO or EPMO continue to evolve to support bimodal IT and digital business
Project management vs. change management
Change management and project management are often thought to be the same thing. They aren’t.
Here’s how they differ: Change management involves people, processes, and tools to effectively help organizations manage all the changes that occur, whether as a result of project initiatives, or other factors that might impact the business.
Project management also involves the use of people, processes, and methodologies to plan, initiate, execute, monitor, and close activities. But it is designed to meet an organization’s project goals, and hopefully overall strategic objectives.
Project management methodologies
Choosing the right project management methodology to execute your project is a vital step for success.
There are many different and, in some cases, overlapping methodologies and approaches to managing project complexities.
Here are some of the most popular project management methodologies (PMMs) in practice today, but it’s important to know more than one methodology (a hybrid) can be adapted to a project:
- Critical path method
- Critical chain project management
One of the most utilized methodologies is agile. It uses short development cycles called sprints to focus on continuous improvement in the development of a product or service. Originally it was adopted primarily within the software development industry. Today agile is being utilized in virtually most industries.
PMO vs. EPMO
Successful organizations codify project management efforts under an umbrella organization, either a project management office (PMO) or an enterprise project management office (EPMO).
A PMO is an internal or external group that sets direction, maintains and ensures standards, best practices, and the status of project management across an organization.
PMOs traditionally do not assume a lead role in strategic goal alignment.
An EPMO has the same responsibilities as a traditional PMO, but with an additional key high-level goal: to align all project, program, and portfolio activities with an organization’s strategic objectives.
Organizations are increasingly adopting the EPMO structure, whereby, project, program, and portfolio managers are involved in strategic planning sessions right from the start to increase project success rates.