What is Project Management and Why Should You Care?
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
An excellent question. In its simplest terms, a project is a temporary series of activities that produce a unique output.
That sounded simpler in my head, so I'll break it down a bit more:
1. It's temporary. Unlike, say, operations, which is the continuous day-to-day running of a company, a project has defined start and end points. It starts on a given day and you probably (hopefully?) have a project plan that shows when it's supposed to end by.
2. It's a series of activities. If you were to build a website, you'd need to define the messaging and branding, create the design, write the copy, develop the site, etc. If you were to run the New York Marathon, you'd have to do all of your training runs by a given date in order to get to the finish line intact. Whatever your project, all of its activities need to happen in order to complete it.
3. It has a unique output. This is another key difference between operations and projects. Every project is unique—it has unique constraints and a unique output, every time. Even if your projects are pretty similar, the deliverable—your output—will still be unique, each time.
I'll add one more very important point:
While each individual project is indeed unique, the process—the series of steps you follow to complete the project—is absolutely repeatable. In fact, for your own sanity and for the sake of your company's bottom line, you'll want to develop a repeatable process by which you manage your projects. I'll talk about business processes in an upcoming blog post.
As for why you should care about Project Management? Or more to the point, you can't afford not to care. “Organizations that invest in project management waste 13 times less money”, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI.org), a global association of project management professionals.