What is Project Management – and Why is it Important?

If you are like me, you may have had (or have always had) one of those professions where you tell your friends and family your job title and they smile and nod. That smile and nod means, “I’ve heard of that before,” but then there is often the follow up question, “So, what do you do exactly?” When you think of all the industries that use project managers – architecture and construction to various levels of government to marketing agencies – it is a good question.

Whatever industry you are in, if you call yourself a project manager, it can be simplified to a more basic job title – “planner.” Of course, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. That being said, some might wonder why having a project manager is so critical to a project’s success. The answer is really just as simple, exceptional planning and preparation equal an exceptional final product. To ensure your team and project meet and exceed their goals, it is all about planning from start to finish.

  1. Project Scoping: Project management begins before a project even gets off the ground. In the scoping phase, as project managers we must be aware of the deadline, resource needs and have thorough understanding of all stakeholder expectations.
  2. Project Planning: Once the scope is established the preliminary planning begins. The project manager must find and reserve the proper resources needed for each phase of the project and finalize a timeline that works for those resources and the client.
  3. Project Execution: Now that the project is officially underway, it is our job to make sure everything goes smoothly. No matter the size or complexity of a project, something will inevitably impact the original plan. Whether you experience a change in scope, an unexpected problem during production or something else entirely, to guarantee a successful project you must be diligent in watching for these risks and communicating with both sides to address them quickly.
  4. Project Quality: As project managers, we are most familiar with both the production work done inside our office and the expectations of the client. That is why it is the job of the project manager to review progress throughout. Quality assurance is not something that is simply completed immediately before a project is finalized. We must continually review and approve the work completed from sitemap and design comp creation to handoffs between departments and phases to project completion. This continuous attention ensures all items in the scope are completed and everything is functioning correctly before the project is officially finished.
  5. Project Wrap Up: Even though it may seem like a project manager’s job is done once the client has signed off, that is far from true. One of the most important steps happens after the project is complete. During the project wrap up, the project manager must look back on the project’s successes and struggles. Everything from the number of hours worked to adjustments in the project timeline and of course, client satisfaction are evaluated and graded. This information serves as a great learning tool and guarantees the next project is planned that much better.