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What Is Project Management? (A Comprehensive Guide)

A woman entrepreneur sitting in a chair at a whiteboard arranging a project management system
Your goals can come to life with the right tools. Here’s everything you need to know about project management. [Getty | Mint Images]

Plan, manage, and organize your projects with this comprehensive guide. Because projects are how things get done.

Who doesn’t love a good project? If you want to deliver project goals on time and within budget, all while satisfying stakeholders, efficient project management is essential. But what does ideal project management include? What are the best frameworks, and which tools are critical to success? 

This definitive guide to project management with Salesforce addresses all the questions you may have — no matter what size your business. You will gain insights into project management processes, optimal frameworks, and managing a project effectively, as it should be.

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

What is project management?
Why is project management important?
Who uses project management?
What are the five stages of project management?
What are the four types of project management?
Eight tips for successful project management

What is project management?

Project management is the process of leading a team to achieve all goals within specified constraints. Typically outlined in project documentation created at the project’s inception, the main constraints include scope, time, and budget. 

For instance, your objective may be to launch a new product, develop software, or organize a networking event. To attain your end goal, project management encompasses:

  • Establishing goals
  • Scheduling tasks
  • Managing teams
  • Monitoring progress
  • Collaborating with stakeholders

Numerous structured frameworks, such as Agile, Kanban, or Scrum, can be employed to reach your project objectives. While these frameworks take different approaches, each is focused on bringing the necessary steps to complete your project on time and within budget.

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Why is project management important?

Project management is vital as it provides the leadership, motivation, and problem-solving skills to introduce new products or services, boost revenue, and meet organizational objectives. 

Prioritizing effective project management styles enables proactive and continuous workflow improvement, preventing mistakes and overspending. The most successful companies understand how to manage a project efficiently and productively.

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Who uses project management?

Organizations of all sizes, from large enterprises to small or medium-sized businesses, employ project management. Whether you’re leading a team in the office or managing remote teams globally, effective project management ensures your organization reaches its goals. 

Project management encompasses various project types, including (but not limited to):

  • Product and service development
  • Software engineering
  • Event planning
  • Construction projects
  • Marketing campaigns
  • IT system implementations

Traditionally, a project manager leads the project team and is responsible for the project’s overall success, assigning tasks to team members, monitoring progress, and ensuring deadlines and budgets are met. Multiple team members can share project management responsibilities in smaller teams without a dedicated project manager.

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What are the five stages of project management?

Successful project management begins by designing and following a straightforward road map to set expectations. The number one thing to do before initiating any project is to outline the project roadmap at the beginning. Because if you want to go somewhere, and you don’t have a map, you’ll probably get lost.

To help you create your roadmap, let’s delve into the five essential phases of project management. Here’s a high-level overview of each:

1. Initiating

In the project initiation phase, essential preparations are made to complete the work on time and within budget. This phase involves:

  • Defining the project scope
  • Providing a high-level project overview
  • Establishing budgets

For larger projects, a project charter or Project Initiation Documentation (PID) may be created to delve deeper into these areas. Planning and creating a clear and deliberate project plan ensures all team members work toward a common goal. During the project planning phase, you will:

  • Select project team members
  • Outline deliverables
  • Estimate required project resources
  • Determine associated activities
  • Set key milestones and dates

Additionally, you can outline your team’s project management methodology with options such as Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, Lean, or Kanban.

2. Executing

During the execution phase, you will carry out your project plan to deliver products to stakeholders. This stage runs concurrently with the monitoring and controlling phase and may involve:

  • Managing workflows
  • Recommending changes
  • Suggesting corrective actions

Ultimately, it’s about maintaining control, collaborating with the entire team, and staying on track.

3. Monitoring 

Regular monitoring is essential in any project life cycle to answer the question: Where are we versus where should we be, per the project plan? Effective monitoring requires:

  • Regular project check-ins
  • Use of proper project documentation and tracking tools to visualize project progress. Visual and real-time monitoring is more effective.

4. Controlling

When you’re in the controlling phase of your project you’re essentially taking what you learned in the monitoring phase and making positive changes to the course. You see where things are going well or not so well, and you course correct. This includes: 

  • Altering the goals of the project
  • Enlisting help from various stakeholders to change course
  • Using new tools to provide insights into your project progress

5. Closing

The closing phase, also known as “project delivery” or project closeout, involves wrapping up all activities and delivering the final product. This handover could be to the client, an internal team, or an external stakeholder. It may include concluding contracts or agreements and conducting a comprehensive review or audit.

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What are the four types of project management?

Various project management types and frameworks can lead to successful project management. Choosing the right one is crucial, as it determines how you structure your team and plan and monitor your projects. 

Here are the descriptions of the leading project management frameworks:

1. Waterfall

Waterfall project management focuses on meticulous planning, breaking down, and scheduling the entire project from start to finish sequentially. It’s best suited for teams capable of defining all project requirements upfront and comfortable with fixed deadlines.

2. Agile

Agile is an iterative approach that enables quick responses to project feedback. It prioritizes adaptability, collaboration, and incremental delivery, making it ideal for complex projects with evolving requirements, especially in software development.

3. Kanban

Kanban focuses on continuous improvement through visualizing and managing the flow of work. Tasks move across the Kanban board as the project progresses, allowing for rapid adaptation and resolution of bottlenecks. It is beneficial for projects with unpredictable workloads.

4. Scrum

Scrum divides larger projects into shorter sprints, adapting to project demands as it evolves. It defines rules for team size, roles, planning, meetings, and deliverables.

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Eight tips for successful project management

Effective project management allows companies to develop products or services, optimize operations, and provide value to customers with minimal friction and greater efficiency. To succeed in project management, follow these tips:

  1. Invest in the initiation and planning stages to avoid later confusion.
  2. Choose the proper framework or methodology for your project.
  3. Promote a culture of transparency and ownership to improve communication and collaboration.
  4. Define a realistic project scope to prevent scope creep.
  5. Prioritize efficient scheduling for better time management.
  6. Practice effective resource management to maximize efficiency.
  7. Engage your stakeholders and maintain strong communication throughout the project.
  8. Leverage tools like Salesforce to streamline project management workflows and facilitate decision-making.

PRO TIP: Enlist artificial intelligence (AI) for your project management needs. AI is ushering in a bold era of effectiveness in project management. Project managers who fully embrace AI are 30% more likely to deliver their projects on time, and 23% more likely to meet or exceed return on investment (ROI), according to a recent PMI survey.

Be a project management pro

Help your project come to life with the right tools and processes in place. There is nothing better than seeing a project become reality. From small business to enterprise, your projects make a big impact. Start mastering project management with Salesforce today and unlock the potential for successful and efficient project delivery.

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