What Is Project Management?

13.06.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course Introduction to Project Management by John M. Smith


Welcome to the course!

Whether you want to start a career in Project Management or to just get your own projects done more efficiently and effectively, this course is the first step toward achieving your goal. Over the next 10 days, you’ll learn the basics of Project Management, when and how to apply Project Management, what the role of a Project Manager is all about, and more!

Today, we’ll talk about what Project Management is, as well as what it is not.


So, Just What Is Project Management?

The most basic premise of Project Management is that it is a methodology and management style that focuses on the successful completion of a project. We’ll get more into how to define a project later, but for now, let’s focus on the concept as it relates to the application of Project Management. You’ve likely applied this in your own life, whether you’ve known it or not. Think about a time when you needed to do something that was outside of your normal day-to-day range of activities. For example, let’s say that you always eat three times a day, and you are responsible for feeding your spouse and your children. Preparing those regular meals wouldn’t fall into Project Management, because they are a regular part of your activities. These meals are considered General Management—in this case, managing a family.

But later this month, you’re hosting a big get-together, a dinner that includes your spouse’s extended family. This requires planning, organizing, and a host of other activities that are not a part of your general daily activities. This special event is one example of a project and brings with it a need for gathering resources, defining goals, and getting things done on schedule. The efforts needed to ensure the successful execution of this project fall into the category of Project Management.

Similarly, when businesses have work to do that doesn’t fit into their day-to-day activities, that work becomes a project. To ensure the success of any project, a dedicated Project Manager should be assigned to plan and execute it. The failure to do so has been the downfall of multiple business efforts, often by not recognizing initiatives and changes as projects.

Conversely, other businesses use Project Management as their primary management style, particularly businesses that mostly offer customized services, including contractors or repairmen, or sell or install custom products, like signs or buildings. Some businesses use Project Management to ensure a high level of customer service regardless of how custom or standard their products or services are, like heavy-equipment sales. The dedication and attention of assigned Project Managers have helped these companies achieve a high rate of success.

At the same time, Project Management does not replace the need for General Management or Operations Management. Like our example of feeding a family daily, even a business that relies solely on projects to generate income still needs to manage the regular course of activities that are required to maintain their general functions. Although projects can exist in any area of a business, activities like general accounting, administration, reception, and supervising would not generally benefit from the application of Project Management. Similarly, businesses that manufacture many duplicate products—like pencils, batteries, or even vehicles—or provide general services—like car washes or laundromats—would not utilize Project Management in the general operations of their businesses.



So, Project Management is the management of work defined as a project. In our next lesson, we will learn about what makes a project a project.


Recommended reading

What Is Project Management?

Project Management


Recommended book

Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner


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