Project Management Basics


The ability to deliver projects on schedule, on budget, and aligned with business goals is key to gaining an edge in today’s highly competitive global business environment. This is where project managers come in. Project managers have an incredibly complex assignment, one that blends organizational skills, an analytical mind, and adept interpersonal abilities.

In this section, we’ll walk you through the basics of project management and what it means to be a project manager.

How do you define a project?

Before we get into project management, we need to define what exactly a “project” is. Sure, you’ve probably been assigned countless “projects” in school or on the job, but what is the actual definition?

The Project Management Institute defines a “project” as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”

There are a few key things to notice in this definition:

  • The word “temporary” means projects must have a defined beginning and end. This means every project must include a timeline, scope and resources. The fact that it is temporary with a beginning and an end also means that it is not part of ongoing operations. This brings us to the second point...
  • The purpose of a project must be “to create a unique product, service, or result.” This means a project will be started in order to accomplish a specific goal that is typically outside the realm of the typical day-to-day business operation. This means, the project team might include people who don’t usually work together, and require resources that are typically outside the scope of day-to-day operations.

However, defines a project in somewhat looser terms: “a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel, and equipment.”

Regardless, every project must have the following components:

  • Goal: What are you trying to achieve?
  • Timeline: When are you trying to achieve it by?
  • Budget: How much will it cost to achieve?
  • Stakeholders: Who are the major players who have an interest in this project?
  • Project manager: Who is going to make sure everything that needs to be completed gets completed?

A project is not something routine. Day-to-day operations or maintenance is not considered a project because it does not have a definitive start and end.