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Key Elements of Project Management and YOU

written by: Gary Picariello • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 6/27/2011

Why do you need to grasp the key elements of project management? Just connect the dots: your entire project foundation will hold up better from inception to completion once you understand the basics.

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    The key elements of project management: project definition, organizing and prioritizing, time management and customer relations, just to name a few contain a value that far surpasses the concepts represented on paper. Sure, the key elements of Project Management are crucial for successfully completing large projects. But those same key elements are made-to-order for smaller projects as well. I’d even venture to say that personal projects - those small jobs you hold near and dear to your heart and have nothing to do with your job - can benefit from the key elements of project management.

    The mindset of getting a job completed on time and on/under budget is valid no matter what type of work you do or who you are accomplishing it for. That being said, if you approach project management with less than a full complement of skills and tools, you’ll never give the customer what he/she wants. And, for better or worse, in this day and age that means a project that is completed cheaper, faster and better while at the same time not losing sight of quality.

    And that, my friend, is where the key elements of project management come in. As fundamental as the key elements of project management are, many managers are at a loss as to what these key elements are and how to use them effectively:

    1. Define the scope of a project: In short, what is it, when will you start, how you are going to accomplish the project and more importantly when you are going to have it finished! The all important balance of quality and quantity.And don't forget: as important as this is for you, it (time vs money) is even more important to your client).
    2. Organize vs. prioritize: Ask yourself this question: Are you in charge of the project or is the project in charge of you? In the organization phase, you can’t take the short road. You can however take the most direct route which will get you off and running without wasting time or resources.
    3. Time management: This is almost a subgroup of organization and prioritization. We’ve all dealt with clients who “want it done yesterday." Time management this all important key element of project management allows you work smarter, not necessarily longer.
    4. Charts: Lots of managers use charts to impress clients. But, charts should not be treated like managerial smoke and mirrors. A chart is just like a road map. It gets you from point “A" to point “B" in the quickest way possible.

    In closing, allow me to tack on two often over-looked key elements of project management. First, everyone on your team should have a sense of ownership. It’s a fact that individuals give a better effort if they think they have a vested interest in the project. And if you think of it, your team has just that. The project won’t get done without them.

    Secondly, the client is not the enemy. Far from it. Big dividends will pay out if you take the time early on to explain to your client what they can do to help make the project a success. Remember what I just said about ownership? It goes for clients as well. You success is the client’s success.

    The key elements of project management: if you get a better understanding of the basics, your entire foundation will hold up from the project’s beginning to end. Because tried and true organizational and project management principles provide you with the bedrock for success!