Yes, it sounds like fancy jargon, but project management is essentially about knowing how to use tools at your disposal to maximise profit and minimise risk. And which industry doesn't need that, especially when the middle of this double dip recession?
And once you've delved into the basics of project management, you'll see that the skills apply to every industry from construction and IT, to marketing and finance.
Initially, project management was exclusive to the construction industry. It was a nifty way to make sure the targets of large-scale projects were met – just by making sure the process worked and that resources weren't being wasted. It's just as relevant today.
Honestly, most things don't go according to plan in business. Change is a normal part of the process. Ever wonder why construction projects often go over time? It could be because of design changes, site conditions or the availability of materials. These risks should all be planned and managed for.
Because it's pricey to keep changing plans and schedules, managing these projects correctly can save the company massive overruns. So, by carefully designing and planning the process – and managing the process – it's possible to keep a tight check on budget and efficiency. These variables are all considered when planning a project and, if done properly, will keep the project on task and avoid wasting resources.
Because IT is such a fast-paced, constantly changing industry, it's obvious that project management is essential. In this industry in particular, clear parameters and goals have to be set before developing a new product.
The project leader is the person who makes sure that products are rolled out on time and that the process of development stays on track.
For example, keeping a check on the scope "creep" (which thwart many IT projects) will help you complete projects faster and keep cost down.
Communication between the project leader and the IT team will help prevent misunderstandings and to achieve a balance, so that the quality of the end-product is not compromised.
Soft skills are harder to manage but it is possible – essential even, in the marketing industry. Managing a team of sales people needs input from different sources, and you need to consider this when managing such a team.
The project manager will have to:
• Draft a timeline;
• Revise it to fit shifting staff responsibilities; and
• Keep the project on track and focused.
Communication is even more important because liaising between staff, branding partners, clients and suppliers will help keep everyone on the same page.
Getting a handle on these processes through effective project management will allow the team to make the most of their resources and maximise results. If you're really follow-up, debriefing session with clear, easy-to-understand reports will help make the next project even easier.
Consider attending the University of Cape Town Project Administration course, presented online throughout South Africa by online education company GetSmarter. For more information, contact Anique on 021 447 7565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit www.GetSmarter.co.za.
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