Basic Concepts of Project Management


Introduction to Project Management:

Project Management is about balancing time, budget and quality while achieving a final goal. The project goal is achieved when a series of tasks are completed. Every project must have a start and end date.


The theory of Project Management is based on 5 processes that are usually in sequence, and may in cases overlap. These 5 processes cover one or more knowledge area.


The 5 processes include: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and controlling, and Closing.


The 9 Knowledge Areas (KA) include: Scope management, Time management, Cost management, Quality management, Human Resources management, Communication management, Risk management, Procurement, and Project Integration.


While running a project, a project manager first enters the Initiating process, to get the project started. The project manager may write a proposal to get funding, and details the goals of the project. The project manager also sets the schedule with an estimate of the total cost and time required to complete the project.


As the project progresses, into the planning, executing, and the other processes, the project manager applies one or more skills of the 9 Knowledge Areas to ensure the successful completion of the project.


Every project is constrained by its scope (what work will be done), time (how long should it take to complete) and cost (how much should it cost). It is the project manager’s duty to balance these three. These are referred to as the Triple Constraint. The Triple Constraint pulls the project manager in opposing directions.



Project Management Terminology:

You don’t need to be an expert to understand some of the basic terms used in the theoretical study of Project Management and the application of MS Project. Here are a few key terms:



A task is a specific action that needs to be completed in order to achieve the project goal. For example, if your goal is to remodel a kitchen (Project End Goal), one task might be “buy new appliances”.




Each task has a duration, or an amount of time required to finish the task.



Resources are the people, equipment, or facilities (such as contractors, trucks, paint, etc.) that need to be assigned to a task in order to complete it. Anything that costs money to apply to a task is a resource.



A stakeholder is a person or entity that may indirectly be affected by a project or holds a positive or negative interest in a project.


Project Manager

The project manager is the central person who runs the project and ensures the timely execution of the project plan.



Scope is all the work involved in creating the products of the project and the processes used to create them. A clear project goal will help communicate the scope of the project. In other words, if you plan to remodel a kitchen, then a clear scope would exclude changing the entire house’s flooring, and identifies in details what the remodeling involves.



Quality is the degree to which something meets an objective standard. Almost every project and task has implied quality standards. In a kitchen-remodeling project, the quality may be applied to the type of wood used in the cabinets, and which manufacturer produces them. Other criteria such as flooring type and type of installation are also included.


Project Milestone

A project milestone is a task that marks a significant point in time or a progress checkpoint. For example, finishing the floor, cabinets installed, and appliances delivered. A milestone has zero duration, since it requires no cost in general.



Benefits of Project Management:

·         Better understanding of overall project goals and alignment with business objectives

·         Better understanding of project tasks, duration, schedule dates, and costs

·         More organized and streamlined way to mange the many derails of an project

·         More accurate and reliable project status information

·         More efficient use of project resources

·         Better communication among management, project managers, and other stakeholders

·         Faster response to conflicting project goals

·         Greater awareness of project process

·         Fast project completion

·         Lower project costs

·         Fewer project failures


Proven Results show that PM in the field is ‘for real’
- With over 18% of IT projects failing or getting canceled due to bad management and only 29% succeed in reaching their original goal, many organizations today have a new or renewed interest in project management.
(The Standish Group, “Chaos 2001: A Recipe for Success” 2001)

- The Wall of China was one of the first projects on Earth.

- Most people consider the Manhattan Project to be the first project to use “modern” project management theory. This three-year, $2 billion (in 1946 dollars) project had separate project and technical managers.


Project Management Software

One of the leading software tools in Project Management is MS Project. The GANTT chart is the most common view in MS Project for reviewing a project and was first used in a drawing in 1917.


Project Management Certification and Education:

A certification in Project Management requires the detailed study of the 5 processes and where they overlap, using the 9 Knowledge Areas. An experienced Project Manager uses the 9 Knowledge Areas to produce schedules and plans to run the project at hand to its final goal, with a high degree of success. The Project Management Institute is an authority in the formal study and profession of Project Management and offers certification in Project Management.