Business management

Your Comprehensive Guide to Project Management [2024]

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Great project management is a must for businesses to meet their strategic objectives on time and within budget.

Despite this, currently more than half of businesses undervalue project management, which results in a 50% project failure rate and can lead to missed opportunities, resource loss, and customer dissatisfaction.  

On the upside, this means massive untapped potential for your business.  

Implementing this is like a golden apple that can help you boost your business’ productivity and speedrun your time-to-value. You just have to reach out and grab it.  

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should know about project management to successfully implement it in your business.  

Ready? Let’s get started.

Find out more about efficy’s solution

 

What is project management?

Project management definition

Project management is the strategic process of planning and monitoring teams, techniques, and resources to achieve specific goals within a defined scope.

 

Have you ever planned a trip with friends or family?

Maybe you organised the itinerary, made reservations, and kept everyone updated on the details.

If so, then you’ve already dipped your toes into project management.

Just like planning a trip, project management involves organising resources, setting deadlines, and keeping everyone on the same page to achieve a goal.  

While planning a vacation can be fun, managing a project for your business requires more structure and strategy to ensure favourable outcomes.  

This is where a great project manager comes in.  

What is a project manager?  

A project manager (PM) is a skilled professional who spearheads the planning, execution, and control of a project from start to finish.

The responsibilities of a project manager are broad, ever-changing, and require a range of skills and training to excel.  

What makes a good project manager?  

Anyone who manages a project can assume the role of project manager, but to truly create impact and foster success? That takes developing the right set of skills.

What makes a good project manager?

Let's explore some of the key skills that make a great project manager:

Communication

Being able to communicate effectively is the cornerstone of great project management.  

Project managers will need to excel in both verbal and written communication to convey ideas, expectations, and updates clearly to everyone involved.  

From running regular meetings with collaborators to checking in with stakeholders, they must be able to strike a balance between multiple communication styles.

They should act as a translator, if you will, capable of speaking and communicating the jargon of different departments to ensure everyone stays aligned and works productively toward a common goal.

Collaborative leadership

In an environment where you need to interact with people at multiple levels, a project manager will need to cultivate leadership qualities to promote teamwork and guide project success.

By being diplomatic, empathetic, and decisive, PMs can coordinate the various roles — both within their team and outside — being performed by people with different opinions, skills, and personalities.    

The PM has an aerial view of the situation, whereas each of the other players bring a unique piece of the puzzle relative to their expertise.

In the end, a great project manager can keep everyone motivated and solve any disputes that may arise with ease.  

Organisational

Any given project has a lot of moving parts. From task to resource planning, timelines, document management, and more — a project manager must be able to stay organised to manage these efficiently.

A well-organised PM will lay the foundation for success by maintaining a systematic approach to each aspect of the project.

Problem-solving

For project managers to smoothly navigate various challenges throughout the project lifecycle, problem-solving skills are a must.

Effective problem-solving empowers PMs to identify and address issues promptly, adapt plans when necessary, and keep projects on track.

This ensures efficient resource allocation, risk mitigation, and better project outcomes, ultimately improving client satisfaction.

Adaptability

Project aspects tend to change — at some point, it’s just inevitable. It’s important for project managers to remain adaptable in the face of evolving circumstances.

A good PM should be able to embrace change and proactively adjust project plans when necessary.

Good project management skills

Why is project management important for businesses?

Every business has to break down their objectives into actionable steps — or projects. And to reach their objectives successfully, those projects need to be well-planned and well-executed. That’s where project management comes in.

With solid project management practices at your side, your business can tackle complex goals with clarity and structure, ensuring efficient use of your time, budget, and manpower.

In fact:  businesses who invest in proven project management practices are shown to waste 28x less money.

The positives only begin here, too; let’s take a closer look at some of the ways project management is important for businesses.

Lock in support

When a business decides to undertake a new project, they’ll need the support of stakeholders to secure the necessary resources and funding. 

That said, stakeholders might be hesitant to invest in a project if they don't clearly understand how it will benefit the company as a whole.

This is where the project owner will create a detailed plan and timeline for the project, project managers can provide executives with a clear picture of the project's goals, risks, and potential rewards.

With this information, executives and collaborators are more likely to see the value of the project and step on board with their full support.

Increase efficiency

Practising project management and having a highly skilled PM can help businesses break down large and complicated projects into smaller and easy-to-do tasks.

When everyone knows who's doing what, and the right skilled team members work on the right tasks at the right time, it results in increased efficiency and higher deliverability.  

Improve resource allocation

According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2023 report, nearly 8.8% of the project resources are wasted when these principles aren’t followed — making effective resource allocation a necessity.

Good project managers are pros at implementing frameworks that help your business better define and distribute its resources to avoid waste and maximise productivity.

To make this easier, PMs can use dedicated project management tools, like a CRM software, to better visualise, track, and optimise a project’s resource allocation.

Boost collaboration

Collaboration is one of the key ingredients to a successful project recipe, but it can be difficult to achieve when team members are working on separate tasks across different roles and departments (and even locations!).

Project management helps to facilitate collaboration by creating a centralised system for communication and task management.

By using a robust CRM project management tool, team members can communicate more effectively, share documents, track progress, and receive feedback — all in real time.

Finetune processes along the way

Project management is often an iterative process that involves trying something new or improving existing processes.  

By using these practices, businesses can gather data and feedback during each phase of the project and use this information to make ongoing improvements in their operations.

A project management system like efficy’s will facilitate your entire project management process, helping you make more confident decisions and optimise your performance. We’re here for you — see how we can help over a casual chat with our experts. Book your demo here.

So, now that we’ve covered why it’s so important, we’ll help you get started on this journey by explaining the well-agreed-upon phases or stages in the project management lifecycle.

The lifecycle of project management

The traditional project management lifecycle consists of five phases: project initiation, project planning, project execution, monitoring and controlling of the project, and project closing.  

The lifecycle of project management

While more and more businesses are evolving their approaches to be less cut-and-dry with the rise of Agile (we’ll talk more about this later), understanding the project lifecycle is important regardless of your methodology.

That being said, let’s walk through the lifecycle together:

The 5 phases in the project management lifecycle

The 5 phases in the project management lifecycle

Phase 1: Project initiation  

This is your project kick-off, where the project owner will take a high-level overview to plan out the scope, goal, and budget of the project and get everyone on board.  

The project owner will usually begin by running a few analyses that are par for the course (or delegating them). These include a business feasibility study — i.e., research to determine whether a project should be undertaken or not.  

At this point, everyone should understand what outcomes need to take place for the project to be successful, and the project manager should propose solutions to achieve the project’s goals.

Here, you’ll often see the S.M.A.R.T. model in action. Each overarching objective gets broken down into a task that’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely (S.M.A.R.T).

You’ll want to make sure that you have everything in place not just to start but to actually reach the finish line.

Phase 2: Project planning

In this phase, the vision really starts to take shape — the scope is further refined, and the project is given set milestones that include risk mitigation and communication plans.  

The PM needs to determine the whats, hows, and whens of your project, laying out exactly how to reach the project’s goals.

The planning phase is also where you’ll outline what type of project management methodology you want to follow.

Each methodology has its unique attributes, so make sure to do your research to decide which one is optimal for your project’s workflow.  

Phase 3: Project execution

At this point, things will begin to crystalise. This phase involves setting up a skilled team, assigning tasks with key performance indicators (KPIs), executing the project plan, and tracking progress.

This is the phase where the deliverables and milestones are actually executed as planned in the previous phase.  

Phase 4: Project monitoring and controlling

Phase four is all about ensuring the project stays on track.

As the project develops, project managers should continually measure various key performance indicators (KPIs) and report on performance to assess if it's all going to plan.

Of course, we know that “new developments” can always arise once things get going, which is why good PMs track, monitor, and adapt.

If something derails, the PM holds meetings with collaborators and stakeholders to create a new course of action or tweak the existing one.

This is an important phase of any project lifecycle, which ensures that the project stays within the defined scope, objectives, and timelines.

Phase 5: Project closing

This phase closes the chapter; it involves the completion of all the tasks and deliverables to the satisfaction of the stakeholders.  

Once the closing is over, it’s time to do a post-project review to analyse your project’s performance and discuss how to improve going forward.  

It’s important to celebrate successes here! A PM should recognise the team’s wins, big or small, and acknowledge their most valuable players’ hard work.

 

We’ve set out to make that easier for you with ready-to-use templates used by our very own project pros. Get your FREE Project Pro’s Toolbox here! 

 

Types of project management

There are several different types of methodologies out there — including hybrid ones — that you can use to manage your projects.  

What exactly is a project management methodology, though? Basically, each methodology just represents a different way to approach the project.  

The methodology you choose will dictate how you’ll plan and execute the project and monitor the results.  

It's a good idea to choose carefully — a well-matched methodology will optimise project productivity and enhance success rates.  

The right choice for you will be the one that best fits your business's goals, industry, team dynamics, and project complexity.

Let’s go over some of the most popular types of project management you should know — we’ll group them by traditional vs Agile to make things easier:

Your traditional methodologies

Traditional project management refers to a linear, step-by-step approach to managing projects that you’ll fully define and plan out from the start.  

Typically, traditional methodologies will follow the five distinct phases of the project management lifecycle and rely on careful control to stay adhered to scope, timeline, and budget.  

You’ll often see these methods used in industries where requirements are stable, and a high level of predictability is desired.

Benefits of traditional project management

  • Defined structure with distinct phases
  • Helps prevent scope and cost creep
  • Predictability for fixed needs
  • Comprehensive documentation throughout the project

Challenges of traditional project management  

  • Lack of adaptability in the face of unforeseen circumstances

Waterfall project management

Waterfall project management is the most popular traditional method — and one of the most used overall due to its straightforward approach.

The Waterfall methodology involves flawless planning — from the beginning, you’ll map out each step of the project from start to finish.  

This means breaking down a project into distinct and sequential phases, with each new phase beginning only upon the completion of the previous phase.  

This methodology is often visualised through a Gantt chart, which clearly showcases each phase cascading to the next.

When to use Waterfall

The waterfall project management framework best suits projects that span over a long, single timeline with well-defined requirements, stable scope, and little expected change.  

Changes during this methodology are discouraged as they may be costly.

For example, construction often employs a waterfall approach. The architectural plans are created first, followed by construction, and then final inspections (put simply) — the whole process should be linear and accurately defined from the get-go.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

Similar to the Waterfall method, the Critical Path Method is another traditional approach that runs sequentially: do task A, then task B.  

CPM is used to identify and schedule the longest sequence of dependent activities, determining the project's overall duration.

With this method, you’ll create a visual representation of the project's tasks and interdependencies, highlighting the critical path.

Unlike the waterfall method, CPM allows for flexibility in task sequencing, considering the potential need for adjustments.  

Critical Path Method (CPM)

When to use the Critical Path Method

CPM is a good approach for large, complex projects with numerous interrelated activities and strict deadlines.

Some of the pros to this method are fewer bottlenecks thanks to defined dependencies and improved resource prioritisation by understanding the most critical tasks and how they’ll relate.

On the other hand, CPM can become tricky for projects where the critical path and task end dates are unclear.

Your Agile methodologies

Agile methodologies

As the name suggests, Agile is a nimble and iterative approach — capable of incorporating changes without disruption.

Thanks to its flexibility, this methodology has become increasingly popular with as many as 71% of businesses today following it.  

The Agile project management approach starts in a broad direction, defining the project’s vision based on what’s currently available or known and then adapts over time as you learn more.  

This methodology involves breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks called sprints, with frequent review and adaptation.

Benefits of Agile Project Management

  • Flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and priorities
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication among team members
  • Increased customer satisfaction through frequent feedback and involvement

Challenges of Agile Project Management

  • Can be difficult to estimate and predict project timelines and costs accurately due to iterative and evolving nature

Scrum project management

The Scrum framework also follows Agile’s principles; it’s a framework that emphasises collaboration and iterative progress.

With Scrum, you’ll break projects down into short sprints, typically lasting 1-4 weeks, with defined goals and deliverables.  

Many Scrum teams will hold daily stand-up meetings to synchronise their focuses and address any roadblocks as they go.

When to use Scrum

Scrum is a great fit for complex projects with a lot of unknowns involved and evolving requirements.

A marketing team could use Scrum to deliver incremental results by breaking their campaigns into sprints, focusing on specific objectives, and regularly adapting strategies based on market dynamics.

Kanban project management

As a member of the Agile family, the main focus of Kanban project management is continuous improvement.  

Kanban is a Japanese word meaning signboard or billboard — and, as its meaning goes, the Kanban methodology showcases all the necessary information about a project on boards.

The boards are divided into columns representing different stages, and tasks are represented as cards that move across the board, indicating their progress.

This method helps teams to process multiple tasks quickly and efficiently by helping them to visualise their work, understand what’s in progress, and stay aligned when tasks are marked as done.  

When to use Kanban

The Kanban methodology is best for projects that need continuous improvement — for example, customer support teams often use this method because it allows for visual tracking of customer inquiries and better prioritisation of tasks.  

That way, they can ensure timely responses and keep customers happy.

Project management best practices

Of course, managing a project is no simple task. To master project management, there needs to be a solid foundation of good practices.  

Here are the top 6 project management tips from efficy’s very own project manager that you can put into practice to enable your projects’ success — every time — and drive your business forward:

1.Clearly define the project’s goals

With any business activity, it’s important to go past the what and clearly define the why.  

It should all start here — having a clearly defined purpose will guide the entire project, ensuring everyone stays on the same page and motivating involvement toward the common goal.

Having a clear and measurable goal stated will help you keep each project moving forward, solve problems as they arise, and track your success.  

This way, you can continually fine-tune your performance and take the right steps toward meaningful growth.

2. Develop a comprehensive project plan

Many projects end in failure due to the lack of proper planning and detailed research — but it doesn’t have to be this way.

By putting a detailed plan in place, including tasks, deliverables, and timelines, a project manager can enable everyone to meet each milestone and promote continual progress.  

This is also a key way to avoid scope creep, which affects as many as 52% of projects and can cause roadblocks, delays, and going over budget.

It’s a good idea to refer to previous project data and gather insights to make realistic projections about the project in the planning stage.  

While scope creep can’t always be completely avoided, having a solid plan will certainly help to minimise it.

3. Create a risk response team

All projects face a certain degree of risk; it’s a good idea to have a risk response team on standby to handle any problems as they occur.

By assembling a dedicated team — equipped with the right expertise — projects can effectively respond to unforeseen challenges, minimise their impact, and increase the chances of success.  

4. Promote transparency and collaboration

Along the way, it’s important to engage those involved in clear communication to keep everyone motivated and deter any roadblocks.

Jumpstart each project with a kick-off meeting to set the right tone, have regular check-ins to share updates and concerns, and hold a wrap-up all together in the end to reflect on your success.

Promoting transparency throughout can lead to stronger collaboration and accountability, as team members are more likely to raise concerns or take ownership of any errors that may arise.  

5. Continually monitor your performance

As the sayings go, you get what you measure — and what you measure grows.  

When you regularly monitor progress against your established objectives, you’ll be on the right path to both meet and conquer your own numbers.

Moreover, by keeping a close eye on your KPIs, deliverables, expenses, risks, and more, you can swiftly take care of any issues, promote proactive decision-making, and, of course, ensure your project is going the way it should.

6. Choose the right tools

If you want to move faster and keep everyone aligned with full visibility into their tasks and progress, a central project management system is fundamental.  

A great project management system makes it possible to glide from action to action with just a few clicks of a mouse while giving the whole team the necessary organisation and structure to tackle a project efficiently.

Don't just take it from us, though — 77% of high-performing projects use project management software.  

efficy’s project management solution seamlessly integrates with CRM functionalities and third-party tools, such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, to streamline all your day-to-day operations and simplify your road to lasting growth.

Empower your project management with a CRM

The digital landscape is crawling with tools for staying organised, but having a separate software or tool for every need can lead to stacked costs, disorganisation, and siloes across teams.

The fact is, disconnected data and processes hurt collaboration — and poor collaboration hurts productivity.  

With a consolidated CRM system, you’ll enable your teams with everything they need to carry out their tasks from one location so they can move that much faster — staying on the same page and on top of their game.

Below are some of the top ways a CRM with project management can help your business drive project success:

Promote collaboration

A great CRM system will boost collaboration across departments, slashing any unnecessary siloes that deter progress.

Through integrated communication tools like email, chat, and notifications, team members can stay connected, share updates, and collaborate in real-time.  

The ability to discuss, comment, link, and document share with a CRM platform cultivates transparent and efficient project collaboration — helping teams make confident, informed decisions and creating improved results.

Streamline project documentation

A CRM with project management provides an organised, easily-searchable space for all your project documents, contracts, communication records, and key milestones.

With easy accessibility and version control, team members can quickly locate and refer to relevant project documentation, further improving collaboration and workflow speed.

Optimise resource planning and allocation

A CRM enables you to gain valuable insights into resource availability and workload.  

With real-time visibility and a quick and accurate time sheeting tool, PMs can effectively prevent overbooking or underutilization, allowing for better planning and resource optimisation.  

Facilitate client and stakeholder engagement  

Maintaining strong relationships with clients and stakeholders is simple with CRM data.

Your CRM project management platform will provide a comprehensive view of client interactions, preferences, and communication history.  

You can leverage this data to personalise client interactions, anticipate their needs, and address concerns promptly.  

By nurturing client relationships through a CRM, you’ll foster trust, build loyalty, and increase the likelihood of successful project outcomes.

Improve decision-making

Don’t leave your success to guesses; by having a clear overview of all of your clients with a CRM, you'll see the big picture to plan your activities with confidence.

Leverage your CRM analytics and reporting capabilities to monitor project performance metrics, identify potential risks, and adapt your strategies for continuous improvement.

The project management tool in efficy’s CRM helps you track the progress of each project and provide valuable insights to help your business make informed decisions at every step.

Ready to power your productivity?

Overall, implementing a project management system that integrates with your CRM can be extremely beneficial for businesses.  

The perfect collab does exist; by combining customer relationship management and project management into a single platform, efficy’s CRM helps businesses streamline their processes, allocate their resources more effectively, and boost productivity across their teams.

We set out to make meeting your business objectives easy — ready to chat with our experts and see what efficy’s CRM can do for you? Book your free demo today!

 

Learn more about:

Problem-Solving Strategies Every Project Manager Should Know

Demystifying Project Management Methodologies