The Top Principles of Project Management You Should Focus on

Successful project management follows principles, which are key elements that make up the foundation of a system. Success is far more likely if you use these specific project management principles.

Project management can be very complex depending on the desired outcomes. It involves various stages of planning, executing tasks, securing resources, and organization to reach a common goal. For example, project management is often used when planning events, campaigns, construction, and much more.

Project management can be useful in a wide range of settings, therefore these project management principles should be adjusted to suit your industry. In any circumstances, these tenets of project management will be powerful guidelines for your work, no matter what project management software you’re using.

For instance, you have your own accounting firm and you need project management software, so you should utilize a project management solution for accounting firms so instead of using some general project management software.

Key takeaways

  • Vision and Mission: Establishing a clear vision and mission is critical for aligning the team and ensuring everyone is motivated towards achieving the project goals. Misunderstandings about outcomes can lead to conflict or unsatisfactory results​
  • Objectives and Goals: Documenting specific objectives and goals is essential after the team is engaged with the project’s vision and mission. This acts as a checklist for the final outcomes and helps in avoiding the failure caused by missing requirements​
  • Deliverables: Defining deliverables, which are the products or services that will fulfill the customer’s objectives, is another fundamental principle. The deliverables should be specified only after finalizing the objectives and goals​
  • Strategizing: Planning the steps from the initial objective to the final deliverable is crucial, including documenting tasks, challenges, and corrections along the way. This ensures that the team knows exactly what to do and can work effectively​
  • Budgeting: Developing a budget that satisfies the client while ensuring sufficient funds for the project is challenging. It’s important to distinguish between non-negotiable and flexible parts of the project budget​
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating the responsibilities of each team member clearly is vital. Using tools like the RACI or RASCI matrix helps in defining and understanding each person’s role and responsibilities within the project​

Principle 1: Vision and Mission

The first project management principle is a clearly defined purpose, which specifies the vision and mission for your project and helps to align everyone on the project. Misunderstandings about the desired outcome can lead to conflict or an unsatisfactory result.

Having a common vision and mission will unify the team. Each person on the project will be inspired to perform to the best of their ability, thus supporting you in reaching your goals. It is important to communicate this vision and mission in a clear and concise way.

Principle 2: Objective and Goals

Once you have an agreement from your team and everyone is engaged with the vision and mission, you can move into the planning phase of project management. This involves documenting your objectives and goals in specific terms. These will build on your vision and mission and act as a checklist for what should be included in the final outcomes of your project.

The absence of a specific objective and goals can contribute to failure because of missing requirements and criteria for approval. To avoid missing any deliverables, it is essential that all stakeholders are in agreement with the objective and goals.

Principle 3: Deliverables

Another key tenet of project management is defining your deliverables. Your deliverable will be the product that makes it possible to meet the customer’s objective, definable only after your objective and goals are specified.

For example, a company has an objective to have their customers manage their own web content. In this case, your deliverable might be creating software along with training materials.

Principle 4: Strategizing

Strategizing is a key concept of project management involving how the project will get from point A, your objective to point B, your deliverable. The path between is the intervention or solution.

Along with providing the intervention, you will also need to strategically plan out the tasks that your team must complete. It is important to clearly document the assignment of tasks as well as any perceived challenges or corrections that are made along the way. Once the team knows exactly what they are doing, they can commence work.

Principle 5: Budgeting

Budgeting is a basic management principle that can seem intimidating. Understandably, the client wants the best value for their dollar and also to save as much money as possible. This is a challenge in project management as you work to develop a budget that both satisfies your client and includes sufficient funds.

Once your budget is approved, it is helpful to also know which parts of the project are non-negotiable and which parts are more flexible. Thus, if a critical component of the project is more expensive than the forecast budget, you can adjust, by manipulating the funds from a less critical component. However, it is important to ensure that this does not compromise the agreed-upon objectives and goals.

Principle 6: Roles and Responsibilities

Managing a team means it is vital to communicate the responsibilities of each team member. In basic project management, the acronym RACI or RASCI is often used. In a table or spreadsheet, put team members’ names along the top and the specific tasks listed at the side. A letter is then put in the box that corresponds with a specific team member and a specific task. Thus, it is valuable to award the successful team members, for instance, with engraved crystal awards or small treats to highlight their hard work.

  • R = Responsible
  • A = Accountable
  • S = Sign-off authority
  • C = Consulted
  • I = Involved

Project management software, spreadsheets, or Gantt charts are alternative ways of documenting these. Each team member should have a clear understanding of what their role and responsibility is for each component of a project.

Principle 7: Scheduling

Scheduling is another important principle of project management. All projects need to be completed within a certain timeframe, and, you will need to keep this in mind to accurately budget for the cost of your team’s wages.

Sometimes you will have a deadline that you work backward from but in other schedules you will be able to create your own timeframe based on the size of the management project. In either situation, the schedule needs to be clearly communicated to your team as well as any stakeholders. This will keep your team on track, ensuring accountability, and that expectations are met.
For better results in work productivity, you can use a timer app or online timesheet software that is ideal for tracking employee time at work too.

Be careful not to overcommit your team by setting a timeframe too narrow for a task. Allow some leeway for any challenges or be prepared to shift priorities in case of unexpected obstacles.

Principle 8: Risk Recognition

Assessing risks at the outset of a project can help to prevent any major errors. The project manager has a duty to consult with the team to assess their possible concerns. You probably will not be able to prevent every risk, but you will be prepared if you have done a proper assessment.

Risk assessment should be an ongoing task for the project manager during the entire process. Remember that every project has its own challenges, and being proactive instead of reactive will keep you from being caught unawares.

Principle 9: Communication

Effective communication is arguably the most important part of project management and this principle ties into all of the others. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with your team as well as stakeholders.

Develop a policy or guidelines about your communication expectations so that all parties are aware of their responsibilities. This might indicate a preference or level of urgency for email, phone call, text message, or a project management platform.

Principle 10: Milestones

A project can be impeded when something less significant appears urgent and distracts from the set priority. Project milestones are significant stages of completion and reaching each one means you are achieving your goals and satisfactorily drawing closer to the final outcome.

Milestones are important for keeping you and your team focused and energized. They enable you to track progress and can be used to celebrate as a team or show appreciation for certain members.

One way to track milestones is to build them into your timeline or schedule. Other common methodologies that use milestones are the Agile, Scrum, or Kanban concepts of project management.

Principle 11: Transparency

Transparency means sharing everything with your team and stakeholders so that everyone knows what is happening at any given time. It includes sharing plans, budgets, charts, and timelines, and providing regular detailed updates.

This is a guiding principle of project management that will prevent embarrassment. Hiding information from your team or stakeholders would be unscrupulous and likely to cause problems at some point.

Principle 12: Rationale

A rationale is an important project management concept. It is the reason for undertaking the project and must justify the value of the result. The monetary value should be considered but the project’s potential change is of equal importance. It is hard to rationalize a project that will be costly and not enable the company to progress.

It must be worthwhile to take on a project, therefore the promise of a positive change should weigh against the cost of making that change.

FAQs about project management principles

1. What is project management and what are its main principles?

The process of organizing, managing, and supervising a project from beginning to end is known as project management. Scope, time, money, quality, human resources, communication, risk, and procurement management are the main tenets of project management.

2. How do you initiate a project and what are the key factors to consider during this stage?

As a project is started, its purpose, objectives, and goals must be established. Stakeholder analysis, project sponsor identification, project charter development, project scope definition, and feasibility study execution are the main things to think about at this stage.

3. What is the importance of project scope management and how can it be effectively managed?

Determining and regulating what is and is not included in a project is part of project scope management.

A project will be finished on schedule, within budget, and in accordance with stakeholders’ expectations if scope is managed well. Gathering requirements, defining the scope, and implementing change control procedures can accomplish this.

4. How do you create a project schedule and what tools and techniques can be used for this purpose?

Identification, duration estimation, and sequencing of project activities are required to create a project schedule.

Gantt charts, network diagrams, critical path analysis, and resource leveling are some of the tools and methods used for this.

5. What is risk management in project management and how can it be effectively addressed?

Project hazards must be identified, evaluated, and addressed as part of risk management. A risk management plan must be developed, risks must be identified and assessed, risk response plans must be developed, and risks must be tracked and controlled throughout the project life cycle.

6. What is the role of project managers in stakeholder management and communication?

Stakeholder relationships and excellent communication are crucially managed by project managers throughout the project life cycle. Keep stakeholders informed and involved. This entails identifying stakeholders, creating a stakeholder management plan, and putting communication techniques into practice.

7. What are some common project management methodologies and how do they differ from one another?

Agile, Waterfall, and Hybrid project management approaches are frequently used. Whereas Waterfall is a sequential strategy that adheres to a linear project life cycle, Agile is an iterative technique that focuses on producing working software in brief sprints.

The hybrid approach integrates aspects of both Agile and Waterfall to adapt to the particular requirements of a project.

8. What are some key considerations for project budgeting and financial management?

Important concerns for project budgeting and financial management include generating a realistic project budget, monitoring project costs throughout the project life cycle, managing cash flow, and recognizing and managing financial risks.

9. How can project progress be effectively monitored and controlled to ensure success?

Regular project status reporting, tracking project performance indicators, identifying and addressing issues and risks, and employing project management software tools are all effective ways to monitor and manage project progress.

10. How can project closure be effectively managed and what are some key activities that need to be considered during this stage?

Bringing a project to a controlled and structured finish is known as project closure.

Obtaining formal acceptance of the project deliverables, recording project lessons learned, releasing project resources, and carrying out a final project review are important actions to take into account at this stage.

Ending thoughts on the top principles of project management you should focus on

Regardless of your industry, these twelve principles of project management are valid for all project managers. The details may differ, but the core values remain the same. Their accuracy and efficacy have been proven accurate over many years, which is why they have become tenets of project management.

These basic management principles just skim the surface of what it means to be a good project manager. By following these guidelines and prioritizing communication with your team, you will be well on your way to success. Building good rapport with your team through good communication is definitely a highlight of these principles.

If you enjoyed reading this article on project management principles, you should check out this one about project management framework.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like project management goals, project management metrics, IT project manager, project management books, what is a war room, Kanban app, gap analysis, project management skills and project management methodologies.

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