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Last updated on 1/27/23

Discover the Fundamentals of Project Management

What Is a Project?

There are many different types of projects, all of which require some form of project management.

The PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) 7th edition defines a project as:

A temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end which must be used to create a unique product, service or result.

A project is an undertaking to create and deliver a product, service, or result in a finite time frame that has the following components:

  1. A specific scope - knowing what you want to deliver and achieve before the project begins.

  2. A start and end date.

  3. Associated resources - such as the people working on the project, the available funding, and other required assets (e.g., computers, servers, etc.).

Let's consider how you can manage a project to achieve the desired outcomes while being on time and within budget.

What Is Project Management?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as:

The use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people.

Because projects utilize people from the organization who do not usually work together (potentially across multiple regions and time zones), it is often imperative to appoint a single person to coordinate and manage the overall project. This person is called the project manager

The best way to understand what project management entails is to examine the project manager’s skill set. They must be able to:

  • See, flag, and act on potential problems before they happen, even in a complex environment.

  • Motivate all stakeholders and fully contribute and commit to the project.

  • Define and assign tasks to team members and motivate them to complete them within the deadlines.

  • Create the project management plan to complete all necessary tasks within a specified budget and time frame. 

  • Communicate with team members and stakeholders. 

  • Account for the budget and resources and report on them to the financial project sponsor. 

  • Handle all issues and change to the agreed-upon baselines that may arise in an orderly and professional manner.

  • Encourage team members to review completed work and learn lessons retrospectively.

Project management is the discipline of contributing in the above ways to ensure that a project is delivered with all necessary features, on time, and within budget!

What Is the Project Management Diamond?

Projects have constraints. The project manager ensures that the project is delivered within the project’s constraints.

These constraints specify that:

  • Projects must be delivered within budget (cost).

  • Projects must be delivered before the deadline (time).

  • Projects should contain all the features required (scope).

  • Projects should function as expected (quality).

  • Projects should meet what clients predict will happen if they use a product or service (expectations).

The project diamond is a visual representation of all these constraints, reminding you that everything you need to consider as a project manager revolves around customers’ expectations. 

A diamond shape with the writing expectations in the middle. Externally, starting from the top of the diamond and moving clockwise: cost, time, scope, quality.
The project management diamond

Cost, time, scope, and quality are not independent variables. Therefore, if one changes, it is most likely affecting the others.

In particular, project managers are always trying to protect against an increase in scope, also called scope creep. For example, if the goal of a project is to create a product with five features, the project manager will try to prevent a sixth feature from being added. Added features can increase time and cost.

Most importantly, each change eventually impacts the customer's expectations. The project diamond model prioritizes the customer rather than the product itself, and it’s there to remind the project manager to keep the balance between all constraints to meet clients’ expectations. 

How do you manage clients’ expectations?

Expectations can be tricky to manage, as it is possible to deliver a project that meets all requirements and yet disappoints the client.

Are you starting to get anxious? Don't be! You will learn techniques that will help you to understand, align, and manage these expectations during this course.

Let’s Recap!

  • A project is a temporary undertaking, with a beginning and an end, that creates a unique product, service, or result.

  • The project manager is responsible for coordinating and managing the project’s overall progress.

  • The project management diamond illustrates how scope, time, cost, quality, and expectations are constraints for project management.

In the next chapter, you will learn about the four phases of a project lifecycle.

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