What Is Project Management: An Overview of the Industry and Work

desk with projects and several people looking at them
A career in project management offers a promising opportunity for many. A project is a bit more complex than many recognize. In the world of business and industry, a project requires people who do not usually work together to come together to tackle a unique set of tasks. Often, this project spans various disciplines and sectors of a business, even across the globe. The task of a project manager, then, is to bring together all of these individuals and components to create a cohesive group to achieve the specific desired result.

For those who enjoy leading others, project management can be an excellent career path. Yet, it’s more than learning just how to work with and lead people. It requires leadership skills, certainly, but there needs to be a mastery of a number of other techniques and resources to meet the requirements of the project at hand.

A Bit of History
The process and concept of project management has always been present. Through the ages, people have stepped up to manage the dynamics of group projects innumerable times – even down to the building of the Great Pyramids. Yet, as a profession, project management did not take hold until the 20th century. And, now, this profession is recognized necessity in every industry to overcome disruptions and to solve concerns. It helps companies grow and flourish while allowing businesses to take on new endeavors.

Just What Is Project Management?

Those who enter into an educational path in project management will learn how to manage projects from start to end. This is a very specific set of rules and processes designed to help move a project from start to finish. It’s important to recognize just what it takes to truly work in this field.

For example, there are five groups of processes managed by the project manager:

  • Initiating the project
  • Working through the planning stage
  • Executing it
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Wrapping up with a closing process

The tasks of the project manager differ in each one of these areas, all coming together to provide a very distinct service.

Understanding Project Management Foundations

  • How do project managers achieve their goals? Simple … they master 10 skill sets:
  • Integration
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Procurement
  • Human resources
  • Communication
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management – in some situations

Of course, these are all key components to building a successful business, by managing these aspects of the process. Yet, the project manager’s aspect is a bit different. The project manager must consider these applications as they relate to the goals and resources available for the specific project at hand. They must manage the project within a defined timeframe and achieve distinct outcomes as a part of the process.

In short, the job of the project manager is multifaceted. It goes deeper than managing a team of employees and has become one of the most important components within the business management framework.

Different Types of Methodologies

At the core of project management are the key methodologies project managers use to achieve a wide range of outcomes within their project. In short, each of these methods offers some benefits and some limitations. The job of the project manager is to understand them all — something a master’s level course can teach — and then apply the most beneficial to the project at hand. It sounds complex, but this knowledge is the fundamental component of any educational program for project managers: How do you manage a project?

Here’s a look at the most common methodologies that play a key role in the management of projects:

The Agile Method

The key benefit of the agile method is that it works to increase a project’s ability to achieve true success. It focuses on creating more flexibility in the process. A key component of this process is the element of sprints. A sprint is a specific step in the process that allows the team to move through a period of time following a specific set of steps. Then, after that sprint occurs, the team’s project management can then reexamine the actions and outcomes. This then gives the team the opportunity to notice areas of concern and to make improvements. Its greatest strength is that it allows for rapid improvements in the process.

The Waterfall Method

The waterfall method is a bit different in its overall structure. It is often used in the process of developing highly technical components or software. The team works through a progression of steps and activities. During the process, there are various indications and feedback provided, called feedback loops. This methodology is very structured and creates a specific step-by-step process to achieving various phases of the project. Ultimately, it creates a process that ensures the project reaches completion.

The Critical Path Method

Another important methodology many teams will need to perfect is the critical path method. This method aims to get the job done fast. It works with alacrity to complete the required tasks, but it does so without sacrificing any of the essentials that would limit the success of the project. In this method, the project manager learns the shortest process to get to the next level of project completion but ensures the end result does not suffer in the long term. This method tends to be necessary when timelines are tight, and project guidelines are very specific.

The Scrum Method

The Scrum method is a framework that allows for the development of complex products or projects. The method allows for the team to work on complicated and adaptive problems, focusing on productivity. It is a more challenging method for managing projects, but it can be a lightweight and effective solution. It is best for the development of products. It focuses on the goals of the stakeholders and the processes within a project.

Lean Six Sigma

Considered ideal in some situations, this particular method has gotten a lot of attention over the years. It uses statistical analysis as a tool for measuring business functions. In this process, project managers focus on five key areas: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This method eliminates the use of guesswork.

The PRINCE2 Method

This is a newer method that is entering into the current project management framework. It is a more risk and benefit model. It expands on the evaluation of constraints like time, cost and scope. Instead of looking at these components as constraints, it considers them tolerances.

Who Should Get an MS in Project Management?

There are various benefits to obtaining a master’s degree in Project Management. The most important reason is the most obvious – this is an area where there is significant growth occurring. Demand for those with these skills is growing across all business models.

Individuals will benefit from an MS in project management because it offers a more prestigious and highly precise area of education. This often makes it a more desirable credential over other types of master’s degrees in business, including the MBA. It’s flexible and portable, providing the leverage necessary to move across multiple industries, opening up more doors of opportunity for better overall access to top-tier jobs.

It focuses on skills that are very practical. With this degree, students aren’t just learning overviews or high arching topics and tasks. Rather, they are learning practical skills that will improve their overall success. More so, this is a very rewarding career path.

How You Will Benefit from a Project Management Degree

Anyone who enters into the master’s degree for Project Management gains insight into the importance and functions of a project manager. They learn problem-solving skills. And they learn what it takes to turn an organization around. Often in business the concern is not obtaining the project or profiting from it. Rather, the problem lies in ensuring a smooth project process flow to achieve synchronicity between the finish line … and the bottom line.

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