In a software environment, project management involves managing the project’s requirements, goals, timeline, resources, and budget throughout the entire lifetime of a software development project. While there are many different approaches to project management, there are some basic principles that remain the same for all projects.
Whether you are starting your own company or working on a team, being able to effectively manage a project can mean the difference between success and failure. The right project manager can give an organization a competitive edge by helping to meet deadlines, stay within budget, and perform at high levels of quality.
This tutorial talks about project management principles and how to follow them effectively.
What is Project Management?
Project management – or the process of managing projects – involves planning, executing, and monitoring activities to accomplish specific objectives within a prescribed timeframe. As part of this process, project goals, objectives, and deliverables are identified and defined; a project plan is developed; resources are allocated; and risks are managed.
For any organization to be successful, project management is one of the most critical factors. It is imperative for an organization to have a project manager who is capable of completing projects on time, within budget, and with a high degree of quality.
You can learn more about the benefits of project management in a software development environment in our tutorial: Benefits of Project Management for Software Development.
Project Management Principles
Below are the main principles of project management, alongside tips for implementing project management into your development team.
Set Clear Project Goals & Objectives
Project management is all about achieving objectives by using available resources in an effective and efficient manner. In order to achieve success, it is important to set clear goals and objectives for the project from the outset.
Goals are what the project is trying to achieve, while objectives are specific measurable targets that must be met in order to achieve the goal. For example, if a goal is to increase sales by 20%, then an objective could be to increase website traffic by 10% within the first month of the project.
Clear goals and objectives help to focus the team on what needs to be done, provide a way of measuring progress, and know if the progress on the project is on track to meet the deadlines.
Identify the Priorities and Milestones
Once you have a project plan, it is time to start putting it into action. The first step is to identify the priorities and milestones of your project. This will help you determine what must happen first and last so that you can create a schedule for completing your goals.
By identifying the goals and objectives, the project manager can develop a strategy for achieving them. Define deadlines for each milestone, enabling everyone involved in the project to be aware of when the tasks need to be finished.
Budget is one of the most crucial parts of every project because it determines how much money will be spent. Developing a realistic budget that considers all relevant expenses is crucial to the project’s success.
The timeline is another crucial element of any project. This will determine how long the project will take to complete and when certain milestones need to be met. A well-crafted timeline will keep the project on track and avoid delays.
The scope defines what the project will entail and what needs to be done in order to complete it successfully. A clear scope will help to keep the project focused and on track.
Define Your Deliverables
As the name implies, deliverables are those items meant to be delivered to the client or customer, typically at the end of the project such as reports, software, prototypes, and more. Deliverables must be measurable and verifiable and meet the project’s requirements.
This step is one of the most important because it is at this point that you need to define what your work will produce and how it will be measured.
Define Acceptance Criteria
These are basic conditions that must be met for testing and review purposes. For example, if an application requires a user to log in within 10 seconds of starting it up, this would be an example of an acceptance criterion.
Define Acceptance Testing and Review Process
Acceptance testing and review processes differ depending on the project they are using. However, they generally include walking through all features or modules with stakeholders to ensure there are no issues before a release. Additionally, it entails running automated tests against each feature or module as part of continuous integration, performing manual regression tests during development phases, etc.
Define the Sign-off Process
This is where you need to define what will happen when your work is complete and ready for review and who needs to sign off on it before release. This can include a formal presentation of the finished product to stakeholders, a meeting with senior management or executive leadership, etc.
Monitor and Measure Progress
The management of a project should include monitoring and measuring the project’s progress regularly. You will need to know if you are on track with your plan or if adjustments are required.
This information can also help you determine whether or not any changes in the schedule or budget are needed before it’s too late. You should constantly monitor cost and schedule performance against the baseline for each significant deliverable of a project.
Monitoring progress helps improve performance over time because it allows decision-makers at all levels–management, middle management/supervisors–to identify problems earlier rather than later and take action to improve performance.
Here’s how you can monitor and measure the progress of a project:
- Tracking system: A tracking system can help you keep track of all milestones in their appropriate order and provide data such as cost variance analysis and earned value analysis (EVA). Earned value analysis is a technique that uses a variety of factors (such as cost, schedule, and scope) to measure progress and identify any areas where the project may be falling behind.
- Status reports: Managers use status reports to communicate status updates between team members and stakeholders throughout a project life cycle., which typically includes weekly or monthly updates that show how much work remains until completion (or other key milestones).
- Dashboard: A dashboard provides an overview of where things stand right now without having to go into much detail about each item separately. It provides an overview of the performance and progress and displays the key performance indicators of the project.
By regularly monitoring and measuring progress, you can stay on top of your project and ensure it is heading in the right direction. This will ultimately help you deliver a successful outcome.
Example of Project Management Software, Monday.com
To help in this endeavor, we suggest using project management software and tools, like those included in our product round-up: Best Project Management Software and Tools for Developers.
Focus on Delivering Value
The principles of project management are designed to help you focus on delivering value to your customers. The essence of project management is delivering value. As such, it is not only important to measure the cost and schedule of your project, but also its expected impact on business performance.
To deliver value to your customers and stakeholders, you should:
- Place customers first
- Communicate early and often
- Be flexible and accommodative
- Focus on continuous improvement
Focus on Organizational Alignment
Organizational alignment is the process of ensuring that all stakeholders in a project are working together towards the same goals. It is essential for the success of any project, as it ensures that everyone involved is aware of the objectives and knows how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Organizational alignment can be achieved by:
- Defining the project’s goals and objectives clearly from the outset
- Understanding organizational goals
- Understanding organizational structure
- Communicating regularly with all stakeholders
- Being flexible and adaptable
Final Thoughts on Project Management Principles
The principles of project management are essential for any individual or organization looking to successfully complete a project. By understanding and following these principles, project managers can increase the chances of success for your project while also minimizing the risks involved.