Project Management

Definition of Project Management

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project requirements. It is an organized manner of managing a project from its beginning to a defined ending.

History of Project Management[1]

Until 1900, civil engineering projects were generally managed by creative architects, engineers, and master builders themselves, for example, Vitruvius (first century BC), Christopher Wren (1632–1723), Thomas Telford (1757–1834) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859). In the 1950s organizations started to systematically apply project-management tools and techniques to complex engineering projects.

Henry Gantt (1861–1919), the father of planning and control techniques As a discipline, project management developed from several fields of application including civil construction, engineering, and heavy defense activity. Two forefathers of project management are Henry Gantt, called the father of planning and control techniques, who is famous for his use of the Gantt chart as a project management tool (alternatively Harmonogram first proposed by Karol Adamiecki); and Henri Fayol for his creation of the five management functions that form the foundation of the body of knowledge associated with project and program management. Both Gantt and Fayol were students of Frederick Winslow Taylor's theories of scientific management. His work is the forerunner to modern project management tools including work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation.

The 1950s marked the beginning of the modern project management era where core engineering fields come together to work as one. Project management became recognized as a distinct discipline arising from the management discipline with engineering model. In the United States, prior to the 1950s, projects were managed on an ad-hoc basis, using mostly Gantt charts and informal techniques and tools. At that time, two mathematical project-scheduling models were developed. The "critical path method" (CPM) was developed as a joint venture between DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation for managing plant maintenance projects. The "program evaluation and review technique" (PERT), was developed by the U.S. Navy Special Projects Office in conjunction with the Lockheed Corporation and Booz Allen Hamilton as part of the Polaris missile submarine program.

PERT and CPM are very similar in their approach but still present some differences. CPM is used for projects that assume deterministic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are known. PERT, on the other hand, allows for stochastic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are uncertain or varied. Because of this core difference, CPM and PERT are used in different contexts. These mathematical techniques quickly spread into many private enterprises.

At the same time, as project-scheduling models were being developed, technology for project cost estimating, cost management and engineering economics was evolving, with pioneering work by Hans Lang and others. In 1956, the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering) was formed by early practitioners of project management and the associated specialties of planning and scheduling, cost estimating, and cost/schedule control (project control). AACE continued its pioneering work and in 2006 released the first integrated process for portfolio, program and project management (total cost management framework).

In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed in the USA. PMI publishes A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), which describes project management practices that are common to "most projects, most of the time." PMI also offers a range of certifications.

Project Management Phases[2]

The commonly accepted phases of project management are:

The Phases of Project Management
source: University of Washigton

  • Initiation: Initiation is the first phase of the project process. During initiation, you identify stakeholders, gather information (expectations, deliverables, etc.), define the project, define the project’s goals, and set up the specifications and parameters of the project.
  • Planning and Design: The second phase is planning. During this phase, you write out a baseline plan for your project. This plan will include things like schedules, resource lists, tasks and activities, team members, risk analyses and reporting structures. The plan then needs to be evaluated and approved by project stakeholders (your client, employer, or even in some cases: the government).
  • Executing: Execution means the implementation of your project plan. The execution phase can take the longest of all the processes, depending on the particular project: it can be the building of the largest skyscraper in the world, or it can merely be a two-day conference that you are in charge of planning and managing. The performance of the project team is crucial during this part of the process.
  • Monitor and Control: Monitoring and controlling consists of keeping to your schedule, reporting to stakeholders and interested parties, watching the budget and making sure that the execution of the project matches up to the initial plan. The project process also goes back and forth between planning, executing, and monitoring during this phase. Each time there is a discrepancy during the monitoring phase, the plan needs to be altered and re-implemented.
  • Closing: As the project nears completion, you need to close out all contracts, meet the final project goals, and compile all the final reports and documentation. It is important to document everything before closing the project. Evaluating the project results, as well as your project team, is also important.

Every project must follow each of these steps logically. First, it is conducted at a project level and then repeated for each task or sub-task in more detail. Some view these phases as linear, but as you initiate your project and then move into the planning and monitoring phases, you may find that you need to make adjustments to the original plan design.

Project Management Process[3]

In addition to the 5 phases above, the project management process includes several other areas of knowledge with which every project manager must be familiar. In the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Fifth Edition) there are 10 Knowledge Areas. It is true that every manager should have a basic understanding of these 10 topics. However, as applied to a specific project that includes unique goals, adherence to a strict timeline and subjection to a set amount of resources, project managers must pay special attention.

  • Integration – This knowledge area contains all 5 project stages. During integration, you will develop the plan, assess risks, and make necessary adjustments along the way to ensure a successful execution.
  • Scope – Scope outlines stakeholder expectations. Comprehending the desired outcome of your project is fundamental to your success as a project manager.
  • Time – They say timing is everything, and keeping your project on track is of utmost importance. Time management expertise will help you to designate activities and set appropriate project milestones to meet deadlines and successfully allocate resources.
  • Cost – Elements of cost management occur throughout the project. Properly estimating all areas of project cost and overseeing expenses during the project process will help you and your team to stay on budget.
  • Quality – Making sure your PSR (product/service/result) meets the client expectations is your goal. Your project falls short if your deliverable is anything other than exactly what the customer and/or stakeholders require.
  • Procurement – It may be that you’ll need services that contribute to your project outcome that are outside the expertise of your project team. You should know how to plan for this contingency, choose an external vendor and create/closeout a contract.
  • Human Resources – It may fall to you as the project manager to assemble your team from across your company’s human capital pool, and possibly to bring in outside contractors as well. Regardless of your project size, you’ll need to know how to coordinate and lead your team effectively.
  • Communications – Communication isn’t only about the right information. You must also know how and when to provide information along the way. Learn how to craft an effective message, how to get that message out and how to manage project knowledge.
  • Risk Management – Even the best laid plans sometimes don’t come off without a hitch. Know how to identify and evaluate those things that can derail your project, so that through ongoing response planning and monitoring, you can mitigate delays and resource over expenditure.
  • Stakeholder Management – Stakeholders include people or organizations involved with your project. You should know how to create engagement and management approaches to include your stakeholders in the project outcome.

The Elements of a Project[4]

A successful project manager must simultaneously manage four basic elements of a project. These elements are interrelated.

  • Scope: This involves the project's size, goals, and requirements. The project scope is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and the budgets of time and money that have been created to achieve these objectives. Any change to the scope of the project must have a matching change in budget, time, resources, or all three.
  • Resources: There are three aspects of understanding and managing resources: people, equipment, and material. A successful project manager must effectively manage the resources assigned to the project, including members of the project team, vendor staff, and subcontractors. He or she must ensure that his employees have the skills and tools they need to complete the job, and s/he must continually monitor whether s/he has enough people in place to complete the project on deadline. It is the Project Manager's job to ensure that each person understands the task and the project deadlines. In a matrix management situation like a project team, the project manager's job is to provide project direction to the line managers. Managing labor subcontracts usually means managing the team lead for the subcontracted workers, who in turn manage those workers. A project manager must often procure equipment and materials and manage their use as well so that the team can operate efficiently. He's responsible for having the appropriate equipment and materials in the correct location at the proper time.
  • Time: This doesn't just address how much time the project will take overall. The three elements of successful time management are tasks, schedule, and critical path. Build the project schedule by listing, in order, all the tasks that must be completed. Some must be done sequentially while others can overlap or be done in tandem. Assign a duration to each task. Allocate the required resources. Determine predecessors—what tasks must be completed before others—and successors, the tasks that can't start until after each other task is completed. This aspect of project management is sometimes referred to as waterfall management because one task follows another in more or less sequential order. Project management software can simplify the task of creating and managing the project schedule. Some tasks have a little flexibility in their required start and finish dates. This is called "float." Other tasks have no flexibility. They have zero float. A line through all the tasks with zero float is called the critical path. All tasks on this path—and there can be multiple, parallel paths—must be completed on time if the project is to come in by its deadline. The project manager's key time management task is monitoring the critical path.
  • Money: The three considerations in managing money are costs, contingencies, and profit. Each task has a cost, whether that's the labor hours of a computer programmer or the purchase price of a cubic yard of concrete. Each of these costs is estimated and totaled when preparing the project budget. Some estimates will be more accurate than others. The project budget should, therefore, include a contingency allowance—money set aside in the budget "just in case" the actual cost of an item is wildly different from the estimate. Profit is the money the company wants to make from the task. It's put on top of the cost. So a project budget is composed of the estimated cost, plus the contingency, plus any profit. The project manager's job is to keep the actual cost at or below the estimated cost and to maximize the profit the company earns on the project.

Project Management Office[5]

The project management office (PMO) is a centralized department that manages projects. The PMO:

  • Central location and authority for providing policies, methodologies and templates for managing projects within the organization
  • Trains individuals in project management within the organization
  • Assists them with project management tools
  • Provide project managers for different projects, these project managers and the PMO office are responsible for the results of those projects

The project management office is a department of many individuals. The PMO has responsibilities such as:

  • Manage needs and interconnectedness between projects
  • Provide resources
  • Participate in project review meetings
  • Monitor compliance with organizational processes
  • Provide templates
  • Provide centralized communication about projects
  • Be a part of change control board
  • Help prioritize projects

See Also

Program Management
Project Charter
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®)
Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM)
Project Life Cycle
Project Portfolio Management (PPM)
Project Portfolio Rationalization
Project Dependencies
Project Scope
Project Management Office (PMO)


  1. History of Project Management [ Wikipedia
  2. Project Management Phases
  3. Project Management Process
  4. The Elements of a Project the balance
  5. Project Management Office

Further Reading