A project is a temporary venture that exists to produce a defined outcome. Each project will have agreed and unique objectives as well as its own project plan, budget, timescale, deliverables and tasks. A project may also involve people from different teams within an organization who are brought together to accomplish a specific goal.

Project management can be defined as the discipline of applying specific processes and principles to initiate, plan, execute and manage the way that new initiatives or changes are implemented within an organization. Project management is different to management of business as usual activity, which is an ongoing process, as it involves creating new work packages to achieve agreed ends or goals.

Key components of project management are:

  • Time – the intended duration of the work
  • Cost – the budget allocated for the work
  • Scope – what innovations or changes will be delivered by the project
  • Quality – the standard of the outcome of the project.

Increasing or decreasing any one of these components will affect the others.

For example, reducing the time allocated to complete the project will also reduce the amount of work that can be done (scope), which may then affect the quality and the cost of the project.

Project management stages

Although there are different project management methodologies and approaches, most projects follow these stages:

  • Initiating the project – the project manager defines what the project will achieve and realize, working with the project sponsor and stakeholders to agree deliverables.
  • Planning – the project manager records all the tasks and assigns deadlines for each as well as stating the relationships and dependencies between each activity.
  • Execution – the project manager builds the project team and also collects and allocates the resources and budget available to specific tasks.
  • Monitoring – the project manager oversees the progress of project work and updates the project plans to reflect actual performance.
  • Closing – the project manager ensures the outputs delivered by the project are accepted by the business and closes down the project team.