The Ultimate Guide to Project Management

Learn how to keep your projects on track and deliver results on time.

Project management skills are essential to achieving business objectives. Whether your job title is "project manager" or not, you will likely need to manage numerous projects throughout your career. And whether these projects successfully deliver results while meeting the deadlines and staying within your budget depends on how you manage them.

But what does project management actually entail? In this guide, we will cover the fundamentals of planning, tracking, and delivering projects.

What is a project?

Before going into how a project should be managed, it's important to understand what a project is.

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a certain outcome. To put it simply, it's anything that has a start, a finish, and produces a deliverable. Projects differ from routine tasks and day-to-day business operations:

Launching a new product or service, entering a new market, or revising a business process are all projects, while responding to customer queries, fixing bugs, or updating internal documentation are routine business operations.

What is project management?

Project management is the organization and planning of all tasks and resources required to achieve project goals. It's an umbrella term that covers a number of related disciplines, including task management, resource management, risk management, and more.

Project management involves a number of activities:

Project proposal

In many cases, before the project can go forward, it needs to be formally approved by management. Casually pitching your idea to your supervisor is often not enough – you need to create a formal, structured document that explains why your initiative is worth investing resources into.

Learn how to write a project proposal.

Project planning

After your project gets the green light, you can move forward and start planning its implementation.

Decisions made during the initial planning phase often determine the fate of the entire project. It may be tempting to jump straight into it and figure things out as you go along – but it's vital to remember that poor planning is one of the main reasons why projects fail.

Project plan example

To ensure that doesn't happen, the project manager writes a project plan. It is a living document that serves as a roadmap and a single source of truth for the team, capturing all decisions and facilitating communication among project stakeholders.

Learn how to create a project plan.

Project collaboration

Delivering a project is rarely a one-man job. Most successful projects rely on the collective effort, skills, and knowledge of a cross-functional, cohesive team. But what does it actually entail?

Discover the best project collaboration tools.

Project documentation

A crucial aspect of managing a project is to thoroughly document it.

Project documentation helps clarify project expectations and objectives, plan and assign resources, and ensure that all stakeholders are informed about the progress. It includes a variety of documents, from project plans and business cases, to requirement sheets and project status reports.

Learn how to write project documentation.

Project management tools

The tool you choose to manage your tasks can often make or break your project. A slow and unintuitive project management tool can lead to missed deadlines, miscommunication between team members, and important tasks slipping through the cracks.

Project management tools

The only way to know with certainty if a particular tool will be a good fit is to try it out in your team. Read on to learn more about your options.