What is 'Project Management'

Project management involves planning and organization of a company's resources to move a specific task, event or duty toward completion. It typically involves a one-time project rather than an ongoing activity, and resources managed include human capital and financial capital. A project manager helps to define the goals and objectives of the project and determines when the various project components are to be completed and by whom; he also creates quality control checks to ensure completed components meet a certain standard.

BREAKING DOWN 'Project Management'

Project management is associated with fields such as health care, construction and information technology (IT), which typically have a complex set of components that have to be completed and assembled in a set fashion to create a functioning product. Project managers use visual representations of workflow, such as Gantt charts and PERT charts, to determine which tasks are to be completed by which departments.

Stages of Project Management

Generally speaking, the project management process includes the following stages: planning, initiation, execution, monitoring and closing. Different industries have also developed specialized project management templates that are specific to the unique needs of their respective fields of operation. The templates make project planning efficient and easily repeatable from one set of deliverables to the next. For example, IT project management specializes in facilitating the process of delivering technical products that pass through several life-cycle stages including development, testing and deployment.

An Example of Project Manager Responsibilities

A project manager tasked with leading a team to develop software products begins by identifying the scope of the project. Then, the project manager assigns tasks to the project team; this team can include developers, engineers, technical writers and quality assurance specialists. The project manager creates a schedule and sets deadlines. He sets a budget that includes sufficient funds to keep the project within budget even in the face of unexpected contingencies. The project manager also makes sure the team has the resources it needs to build, test and deploy a software product.

When a large IT company such as Cisco Systems Inc. acquires smaller companies, a key part of the project manager's job is to integrate project team members from various backgrounds and instill a sense of group purpose about meeting the end goal. Project managers may have some technical know-how but also have the important task of taking high-level corporate visions and delivering tangible results such as completed products for delivery on time and within budget.

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