The Beginners Guide To Project Management In 2024

You get asked about project management (PM) skills at every interview. You hear your friends and family talk about good or bad management concerning their daily activities. Project management finds its way into everything, from organizing your pantry to international business opportunities. So here is everything you need to know about project management and how to implement it professionally and personally.

What Is Project Management?

Project management represents the application of specialized expertise, techniques, tools, and skills to bring about the delivery of a valuable outcome or product to individuals or groups.

It includes everything possibly related to a project, such as planning, resource acquisition and monitoring, budget management, production supervising, deliverables, and many other aspects. While project management takes care of individual parts of a project, it also takes care of the communication between them, reporting to authorities and stakeholders, PR, and unexpected problems.

The project manager oversees various initiatives, including new product launches, software development, and networking events. To ensure successful project outcomes, effective project management includes:

  • Setting clear and measurable goals aligned with strategic objectives.
  • Creating comprehensive schedules and task assignments for efficient execution.
  • Managing teams and fostering collaboration among stakeholders.
  • Monitoring project progress to identify and address potential issues.
  • Engaging with stakeholders for valuable insights and feedback.
  • Leveraging structured frameworks like Agile, Kanban, or Scrum for efficient project execution.

By implementing these practices, we strive to achieve project objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner, driving success within our organization.

What Is a Project?

It’s impossible to understand project management without understanding what a project is. A project is an activity that requires a series of tasks done in a precise timeline to achieve a goal. A project is very practical, with a clear start, end, steps, and purpose. It’s not something you would wish to happen but something you can do in a limited amount of time and with limited resources. If it doesn’t have a deadline and a plan, then it’s not a project.

What Are the Components of a Project?

To make sure you don’t mistake a wish or New Year’s resolution with a project, here are the components a project must have:

  • The goal, and you’d better make it a SMART goal.
  • Project plan, the roadmap of your project.
  • Budget, so you know how much you can spend.
  • Deliverables are those practical items you want to have at the end of the project.
  • Stakeholders, because you need people invested in your project.
  • Timeline to put tasks on time.
  • Milestones, to make sure you get where you want to go.
  • Dependencies to organize the tasks flawlessly.
  • Risk analysis, so you won’t be taken by surprise.
  • Project tracking procedure to supervise everything effortlessly.

Why Is Project Management Important?

Project management helps you plan and track a project and ensures you will reach your goals. It enables you to keep productivity at a high pace, avoid making mistakes, and solve unpredictable issues. Furthermore, proper project management reduces expenses, improves team communication, motivates people to do a better job, and helps you comply with rules and legislation. You will meet deadlines, promote a healthier culture, and develop stronger teams.

Key Benefits of Project Management

In short, the key benefits that will convince you to pick up project management and use it in everything you do are the following:

  • The project stays on schedule.
  • You meet deadlines and reach milestones according to the plan.
  • You keep things organized and smoothly going in the right direction.
  • The project team is more efficient and motivated.
  • Communication between teams is improved.
  • The budget stays on track.
  • You build a trustworthy work environment.
  • You provide leadership and inspiration.

Project Management Steps

Project management is a dynamic journey that consists of four essential phases: initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Let's discuss about each of the four phases:

  • Initiation: The initiation phase marks the project's starting point, where you define its purpose, objectives, and feasibility. It involves conducting thorough research, identifying key stakeholders, and clarifying project scope and deliverables. This phase sets the stage for the entire initiative.
  • Planning: The planning phase entails developing a comprehensive roadmap for the project. The phanning stage requires creating a detailed project plan, outlining tasks, establishing timelines, and allocating resources. This phase ensures that all project activities are well-organized and aligned with the objectives.
  • Execution: Within this phase the actual project work takes place. It involves coordinating teams, assigning tasks, and implementing the project plan. Throughout this phase, you monitor progress, manage risks, and adjust as needed to keep the project on track.
  • Closure: The closure phase signifies the completion of the project. It involves finalizing deliverables, conducting a thorough review, and obtaining stakeholder approval. This phase ensures that all project goals have been achieved and appropriate documentation and knowledge transfer are completed. It's an opportunity to celebrate successes, learn from challenges, and systematically close the project.

By understanding and effectively navigating each project management phase, you can enhance your project's chances of success and deliver results that meet stakeholders' expectations. Each phase focuses your attention on a specific aspect of the project and equips you with the necessary tools to achieve your goals. By giving proper attention to each phase, you can confidently navigate your project and set yourself up for success. 

Tip: Due to their importance, we have dedicated an entire article to project management phases.

Key Project Management Methodologies

So far, we’ve spoken about the importance of project management and what is included in this activity. It’s time to speak about how you implement project management, which means discussing methodology.

Project management takes you from point A, the desire to accomplish a goal, to point B, achieving the goal. You can travel from A to B linearly or iteratively. When you choose the linear approach, you are using the waterfall methodology. When you choose the iterative approach, you use the Agile methodology. Almost all project management types use one of these two methodologies.

The waterfall methodology suits predictable projects that managers can plan thoroughly. There is little room for unpredictable situations and unexpected issues. At the same time, there is no chance of feedback until the end of the project.

The Agile methodology suits unpredictable projects that know little about intermediary stages between A and B. The project receives feedback before its end and must adapt continuously. New features may be added. Others may be taken out.

For a visual example, imagine that your project is organizing the pantry. If you know exactly how much space is in the pantry, how many shelves it has, and what products will be stored there, you can thoroughly plan your project and receive feedback from your spouse at the finish line. However, if you don’t know how much storage space you have and how many shelves your spouse wants, you must adapt to whatever requests you receive. Feedback will also come before the end of the project. It would help if you worked iteratively.

Types of Project Management

You can try several types of project management, even though the project management phases are the same for all of them. The type dictates how you organize resources of all sorts and the way you track tasks, budgets, staff loading, and so on. If you choose the wrong project management type, you’ll find out sooner rather than later. Not all types suit any project, and your employees are most likely to get upset.

Traditional or waterfall project management 

The traditional methodology acknowledges the power of planning and allocates much time to project planning. The entire activity is divided into tasks and subtasks and scheduled according to their dependencies. The progress is slow but well-determined, and you can hardly expect to have any iteration. This project management type is perfect when you know what you are doing and expect everything to work according to plan.

Kanban project management 

This type of PM takes the opposite approach. Instead of focusing on planning, this project management type focuses on continuously monitoring and adjusting the project. The project manager uses a visual workflow (a Kanban board or chart) and reacts quickly to any situation. This project management type is ideal for projects with a large dose of unpredictability.

Agile project management

Agile is a new sort project management type that underlines the importance of iterations. In this scenario, the project manager doesn’t try to solve everything from the beginning or on the spot. Instead, they make small iterations, trying to respond to feedback and incrementally reach the desired outcome. It’s popular in software development and other areas where projects can be divided into small tasks and receive feedback during the development.

Scrum project management 

Scrum is a version of Agile project management that splits a project into stages of one to four weeks each. It also has an incremental development and adapts to new demands but is not necessarily iterative. Furthermore, this type includes a lot of team organization based on precise roles. It’s usually used for marketing campaigns and creative projects.  

What Are the Key Tools Used within PM? 

Project management isn’t something you can do without proper tools. The good news is there are plenty of them, from dedicated solutions to generic software you can customize for project management.

The key tools you need are a dashboard, a timeline, and a visual board.

The dashboard provides an overall project perspective and includes tasks, resources, and budget. It allows you to carefully watch the activity of every department and part of the project. It also shows who’s on time, what tasks are delayed, and where a bottleneck may appear. You can use dedicated software for a dashboard or an Excel template.

A timeline shows the progress of tasks in time. It also shows the dependencies between tasks, their priorities and status, and who handles each task. Usually, you’ll want to use a Gantt chart to track the progress of your project.

A visual board, such as a Kanban board, allows you to visualize a task in its tiniest details. It makes tasks transparent and collaborative by showing who’s working on what, their progress, observations and decisions, productivity indicators, and everything in between. A visual board is your best tool if you want to keep a close eye on everything happening and take quick action.

Do You Need Project Management Software?

Try project management software for complicated projects with elaborate tasks and various resources. But you can also use dedicated software only for specific project parts, such as writing a project proposal, people management and finance, and do the rest with Excel templates. Project management software may be expensive. If you can’t fit its cost in the budget, free small apps are a better choice.

For small projects, an app that provides time tracking and employee self-service may be all you need. Add an Excel dashboard and Gantt chart, and you are ready to start your project.

How to Build a Project Management Team?

The project management team may have one or more members based on how big your project is. For a small project, a project manager may be all you need. Choose someone with leadership experience or a professional project manager. However, having a project manager doesn’t mean your team should be involved. Engage people by offering transparent project management, promoting collaboration, and encouraging your employees to be open and take ownership.

If you manage a large project, you will need a project team with members coming from all departments. Define roles and procedures and include people with a variety of experience and talents. Each can take care of a particular aspect of the project and report to the project manager.

Building a project management team has three steps:

  • Find a project manager
  • Assign roles to people in charge of different departments
  • Engage the employees and motivate them to come up with feedback and ideas.

Key Project Management Tips

Following steps and methodologies is the core of project management. They help you have a straightforward approach, avoid mistakes, and make your work efficient. And it’s easier to tackle one task at a time than starting all of them at once. However, a few tips are always welcome. So, have these in mind for your next project management assignment:

  • Don’t overlook any phase of project management. It’s cool to dive into the execution phase, but the initiating and planning phases are key ingredients of your success recipe. That is the time for you to decide what project management type you need, who will be in charge, and what you can do to reach your goals.
  • Choose project management parameters wisely. Project management is much easier if you define it properly. Take time to analyze what methodology you need, what tools are more helpful, and the realistic goals you want to achieve.
  • Don’t do it all by yourself. Smart project management encourages people to speak their minds, come up with ideas, own their work, and provide feedback. Transparency and communication help you in every phase of the project. Furthermore, employees may release you from a lot of work if you provide employee self-service.
  • Schedule. Efficiency is based on scheduling. From work schedules to meeting schedules, ensure everyone is happy and willing to contribute. Be flexible and keep things clear. Everyone should have access to schedules, check leave balances or meeting schedules, and be able to plan their tasks accordingly. Moreover, leave some time for the unplanned, unpredictable situations that almost always appear.


Project management is part of any business, small or large. It’s present in individual and team projects across all industries. But it can be extremely stressful and hard work. Using the right methodology and tools takes you a long way. Choose them wisely, and your effort and time will be considerably reduced. Remember that project management is rarely a one-person play, and engage your team and employees to take ownership and share the responsibility.