Every day of your life you apply the phases of project management, whether it’s a DIY project, e.g. painting a room, remodeling a house, or planning a birthday party. Though the complexity, budget, and timeline vary, each of these activities equip you with underlying skills that are essential to successful project management.
Ok, so what are these phases? And, what are these skills? Unless you’re studying project management terminology in a formal course, it’s likely you’ll think of Initiation as “starting something new,” of Planning as “planning how to do the thing you’re starting,” Execution as “doing the tasks” outlined in Planning, Monitoring and Control as “seeing if things are going well, making sure tasks are being completed, and if not, making adjustments,” and Completion (or Closing) as “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”
Now for the skills you learn by pretty much just being an adult.
These aren’t neatly situated within phases. They are, however, recognizable. Here are some top skills you learn and continuously hone as you’re planning parties, completing DIY projects, or working on a set of tasks with others that culminates to a unique, time-bound endpoint.
Does all this sound familiar? It should.
Why? Because you already know more than you think about managing projects. However, it’s not enough to stumble upon these skills or simply work your way through projects and project tasks. Intentional and strategic application of these skills along with acknowledgment of which phase of the project management process is crucial for long-term success, especially when you’re leading teams.
I’ve worked with individuals who have a laundry list of credentials, yet lack the finesse and understanding of nuance required to truly gain buy-in and succeed at being a stakeholder manager.
To translate what you already know into a formal grasp of project management, start with the basics and resist the temptation to say, “I already know that, so I’ll just skip this section.” Even if you know some of the industry basics and can envision how you’d put this into practice, reinforcement is important. Similar to one of the greatest movies of all time, Karate Kid, we must muscle through painting the fence or “wax on, wax off” to actually learn.
Here’s an example you may take for granted. Imagine the Initiation phase or, as we referred to as “starting something new.” Pop quiz! How do you actually know you’re starting a project? To make a career out of project management you’ll need to be able to articulate this.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) should be your primary resource. In the example above, this is their definition: “All projects are a temporary effort to create value through a unique product, service or result. All projects have a beginning and an end.” Here is a glossary of project management terms provided by PMI that will help you on your journey.
Ultimately my advice is to approach project management knowing you’ve already acquired some skills, be disciplined in learning about the methodologies, terminology, and industry best practices, and be humble enough to acknowledge that successful project management is both an art and a science.
Intrigued about the organized world of Project Management?
Now that your interest in project management is piqued, your next question might be: Where can I learn about project management?
If you’re a project manager or a team leader, you might want to know about the world of project management where similar problems exist—and are solved. We can help with that.Project Management Essentials You Always Wanted To Know equips employees transitioning into project management roles with the essential information they need to handle major, large-scale projects. You’ll learn how to plan and initiate projects using the WBS system and how to successfully execute them, with a final project closure at the end. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of these terms and are feeling overwhelmed by their seeming complexity—just read this book to find out everything you need to know about Project Management.