Management is working with people to progress organizational objectives. It makes processes function efficiently, smoothly and easily. Without management, businesses and other organizations would be in chaos and struggling to perform.
Being such an all-encompassing activity, management has diverse components. Different authors of books, magazines other publications understandably have different ways of looking at what management functions are.
It can be considered to all come down to 4 tasks: planning, organizing, controlling and supervising. Anything else (such as monitoring, directing and designing) can be considered sub or overlapping functions.
For anything needing to be completed, planning is always the first stage.
- An adage which can be applied here is: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
- Or as T Boone Pickens, the famous industrialist, said, “A fool with a plan will outsmart a genius without a plan.”
Planning is where the manager establishes the vision of the organization and sets goals, objectives and strategies towards achieving them (Just Business Today).
Organizing is putting together the activities needed to attain objectives and deploying people to carry out tasks. Since the conditions affecting the organization’s pursuit of goals are constantly changing, the organizing process will be in flux to adjust.
Controlling is the management of processes to ensure standards are met satisfactorily. Standards, which are set during the planning stage, include budgets, sales quotas, product quality, and production volumes and costs.
Among the 4 major functions of management, supervising often takes up the most time of a manager. It includes motivating and inspiring staff, coordinating job activities, instructing, training, guiding and providing counsel.
Project management is the activity of defining and achieving specific objectives. The challenge in project management is to optimize the integration and allocation of inputs needed to meet the objectives. The project is a carefully selected set of tasks which use resources (such as people, time, capital, materials, energy and space) to meet goals.
The final objectives are defined in a negotiated agreement among project stakeholders, usually in the form of a charter or contract.
Often an individual project manager is responsible for seeing that outcomes are achieved. He or she may not participate directly in the activities which produce the end result. Instead, the manager works to keep tasks progressing and the different parts of the operation harmonized. Project managers also need to manage risk.
A project is a non-ongoing endeavor to create a product or service. It contrasts with processes (or operational) management, where the same product or service is created repeatedly. The two management systems can be very different and require different technical skills and philosophies.
Project Management Variables
Project management tries to gain control over 4 variables.
- The first, time, is typically broken down for analytical purposes into the time required to complete the components of the project. This can be further broken down into the time required to complete each task contributing to the completion of each component.
- The second is the cost of developing a project, which depends on variables such as labor and materials, risk management, plant, equipment.
- Another variable is scope – what the project is supposed to accomplish overall and a specific description of what the end result should be.
- And lastly are project risks – potential points for failure. Most negative risks (or potential failures) can normally be eliminated or minimized given enough planning capabilities, time and resources.
To properly control these variables a good project manager should have deep knowledge and experience in these 4 areas and in 6 others as well: integration, communication, human resources, quality assurance, schedule development, and procurement.
The key to effective project management is control. Project management tools are available to make it easier, including milestone tracking software. The project manager needs to keep the whole process on-track, on-time and within budget.