What is Project Management?


It seems like there are as many definitions of project management as there are projects to manage. Instead of getting bogged down in the details and job description of what a project manager does (and doesn’t) do, or establishing the “best” definition of project management, let’s focus instead on the “spirit” of project management.

Project management is the glue that holds everything together. Yes that’s a big statement… but it’s an accurate one. When done well, the project manager (or Project Management Office in certain organizations) is the person or group that people look to for reassurance on project deliverables within an organization.

If you focus on the following five areas and view these as the principles of what project management is, you will quickly garner the respect and confidence of those around you.

1. Communication

Communication is at the top of the list if you want to know what project management skills are about. Project Managers are the central repository of any and all information related to the project. A project manager is not expected to have all the answers, especially in a technical environment, but they will know where they can get the answers.

What’s more, a project manager that is a great communicator will, as a rule of thumb, never just forward information on to others without adding some value to the information beyond “FYI”. They will help others understand why this information is important, what impact this will have on the project, why this is a good thing or a bad thing, and what action is expected of the person that is receiving this information. Follow Jennifer Bridges video tutorial on How to Communicate on Projects to learn more.

2. Collaboration

This is a critical area that can make or break a project manager. Project Management is about not taking sides, but rather making the right decisions. Your team will appreciate the fact that you make objective decisions for the good of the project based upon input from all. When it comes to collaboration this is where online project management software can help.

But collaboration is more than just using online tools or social apps. Leaders need to build a culture of collaboration with their teams, a process of inspiring communication and shared ideation, distinct from the top-down culture in place in many companies or organizations too.

3. Teamwork

The word “teamwork” is fraught with too many cute and meaningless clichés (who can ever forget that there is no I in team?). The way we work is changing and even our definition of Team is changing. The new teamwork model can be defined as a group of people with certain skill sets and expertise coming together for brief periods of time to accomplish a common objective….and then disband to potentially come together again (or not) on the next project.

Project Management is about managing these new teams. It’s about getting people up to speed fast, establishing trust quickly, and then delivering results…all within a fraction of the time it used to previously take.

4. Resolution

You can be assured that something will go wrong on your project. You can have all the communication, collaboration and teamwork in the world…but something will go wrong. It’s the nature of the beast. Project Management is about bringing these problems to resolution quickly.

Project Management is not about pointing fingers, affixing blame, or tracking down the culprit. It’s about taking the high road and getting the problem fixed…first. Then, if there’s a deeper problem that needs to be addressed, perhaps a team member’s performance, project management is about resolving those issues with discretion and good judgment.

5. Celebration

And finally, project management is about celebrating a job well done. There’s nothing like a group of people with different backgrounds, functions, and skill sets coming together for a brief period of time and accomplishing something great. How you celebrate is up to you. It may be just the quiet inner satisfaction you receive from knowing a job has been done well, to getting everyone together for a fling. Take some time to pause, reflect, and appreciate each other. You’ll be renewed and energized for your next project.

Are there other definitions that would answer the question “what is project management?” No doubt. But, don’t let yourself get caught in the details of the tools, procedures, and methodologies. These will all change over time. However, remembering that the spirit of project management is in communication, collaboration, teamwork, resolution, and celebration will ensure you can keep up with these changes as they occur.

Looking for software that embodies the spirit of project management? Try ProjectManager.com risk-free for 30 days to see how well we can help you communicate and collaborate with your team, and resolve issues as they come up. How you celebrate all that is up to you! Get started now.