What Is Project Management?: The Four Parts Every Project Manager Must Know

What is project management? A managers best opportunity for project executing and project controlling is to focus on four critical areas. These four areas need to be managed at the same time. Balancing four critical areas dosen't guarantee successful project completion. Strong ability to multi task, focus and manage people are key for the project manager and the projects success.

So what are the four critical areas?

1. Resource Management- staffing, materials, and required tools.

2. Time Management- Individual time lines, deadline monitoring and tracking progress

3. Money Management- Projecting costs and adjusting budgets

4. Scope Management- Project size and disired results

what is project management

Importance of project management starting point

With a firm understanding of what is project management and how it works. We can now look at were to start the project management process.

There are many publications and artilces about project management. Many disagree on where to start the process. Some think its smart to combine resources, time, money then determine the project scope. Others feel that determinig the project scope first is the way to go. The bottom line is this, success or failure doesn't happen just with starting point.

Determine Scope

It has been my experience to always start with scope management first. Develpoing the scope of a project first allows you to know the project size, outcomes and the all important budget. At the same time project managers can discuss what will happen if the budget needs to be cut. The same goes for increasing the project size and how it effects the budget.

With the project scope determined you can focus on gathering the right resoruces, developling time lines and allocating finanaces.

Develope Project Management Objectives

With the scope determined it is now time to assemble your objectives that will help you better manage your people, resources and overall project. Measurable objectives will make all the difference. For more indepth knowledge of what is project management, then read this must read article on how to write project management objectives.

On the other hand if you were to start with resources, time and money first. One or two things may happen. The overall scope of the project size may be different in comparision to the vision. Without knowing the scope ahead of time you may find yourself using inadequite resoruces. Your overall ability to effectively manage the project will be difficult.

what is project management

Managing Resources

The defintion of what is project management describes managing resources as managing people, equipment and materials. Though the actaul resources will vary form project to project according to what type of project it is.

Managing people is all about giving direction, guidance and monitioring labor. The labor aspect involves keeping scheduling and payroll in line with the required budget. It is often very easy for a project to fall behind and this would result in spending more on overtime hours. Payroll is the one asset that you really have 100% control over so monitor it closely.

There are ways to keep your labor costs intack. One way is to provide proper direction and guidance. Another way is to make sure you have the right people with the right skills working on the project. Finally, try motivating them to take ownership of their role in the project. For more info employee motivation techniques checkout the article "10 Ways to Pump Up your Employees".

Giving good direction and guidance will will build strong motivation in the workplace. One technique that any manager could use "is just work smart". This is not just a phrase, it's a management philosophy. The word smart is broken down into five parts.


S. Stands for Specific- Any direction given has to be specific, to the point and very detailed.

M. Stands of measurable- This will answer the question when is the task complete. An example You will be done when you do this this and this.

A. Stands of acheiveable- Acheiveable goals are realitic goals that can actually be completed.

R. Stands of reasonable- Keep in mind other job requirements.

T. Stands of timed- Provid a specific time for completion.

Managing resources also involves dealing with cooridinating equipment and the proper materials needed to complete the project. Determining what equipment you will need and when it will arrive. The same stands true for obtaining the right materials at the right time.

Time Management

The time management area plays a crtical role in defining what is project management. Time is the one element that can either make or break your project. Time management is all about setting time lines, monitoring deadlines and tracking progress.

The project manager has total control of establishing time objectives, what steps to take and when to take them. List every step in the project from the beginning of the process to the end of the project. Provide time lines for each step to be completed. These steps and deadlines also have to include any resources that are required. Read this article for more information on time management in the workplace.

Project management is all about balancing a lot of tasks at once. If you miss something it can cause setbacks. Not just time, but in budget increases. It is in your best interest to obtain some type of tracking software. Software will help you mange through times of difficulties, like when resources lack and time lines overlap. You will be able to stay on top of every aspect of the project.

Money Management

Project managers are evaulated on their ability to handle and control budgets. If you managed resources and time lines correctly you will be fine. When it comes controlling costs you are not in total control. There are a limited number of costs that you can manage effectively. Like payroll for example, focus on the cost items that you can control.

Analyzing costs and budgeting are not always simple. Determining a cost for building supplies can accurate. Where as the cost of an high speed elevator is harder to estimate and considered uncertain. Most comapnies will set aside funds for the just in case momemnts. These design allowances are built right into the budget.

There are also contingeny amounts that cover unforseen problems that include weather or production issues. Like design allowances, contingency amounts are also built into budgets. Most budgets consist of estimated costs, plus contingency amounts, plus design allowances, plus any profits.

By know you should have an soild understanding of what is project management. The best way to be successful in being a project manager is to meet project deadlines. And keep the actual costs below estimated costs. Learning what is project management is just the start of you project management journey. Checkout the career management training page for more skills that you can use in your project management career.

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