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Understanding Project Management: What it Is, Types, Skill, and Misconception

Project discussion on the table with notes

Project management is an extremely vast and versatile field that encompasses almost all areas of industries and personal life. From planning and executing a birthday party or a brother's marriage to managing the launch of a billion-dollar rocket or taking care of day-to-day activities in your job, it touches every aspect of it. To be more precise

Project management is the practice of planning, organizing, and executing a set of activities to achieve specific goals within a defined timeframe and budget.

It involves the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to complete a project while managing various constraints and stakeholders.

An ongoing meeting to discuss regarding project

Understanding project management

What is project management?

Imagine you and your friends are passionate about environmental conservation. You decide to organize a tree-planting project in your community to create awareness about the importance of trees to the environment.

First, you need to plan. Sit together and decide which area of your community needs more trees. Research the types of trees that are suitable for your region's climate and soil. Make a list of the materials you'll need, such as saplings, shovels, and watering cans.

planting of trees in the backyard

Next, divide the tasks among your friends. One person can be in charge of contacting local nurseries to get saplings, another can coordinate with community members for permission to plant trees in public spaces, someone else can handle the logistics of transportation and equipment, and another friend can create posters and flyers to spread the word about the project.

Once you have everything planned, it's time to start planting! Choose a day when everyone is available and gather in the designated area. Dig holes, plant the saplings, and water them properly. Encourage others in the community to join.

During the project, document your progress by taking photos and videos and share them on social media, if you wish to. After the tree-planting event, continue to monitor the growth of the trees and organize follow-up activities like tree care and maintenance. This will ensure the long-term success of your project and create a positive impact on the environment.

By organizing the tree-planting project, you and your friends will not only contribute to a greener and healthier environment but also create an understanding of project management.

Remember to have fun and celebrate the impact you've made together!

A ongoing cricket match

Project management is like being the captain of a cricket team. You plan, coordinate, and lead your team to achieve a common goal, just like the team captain strategizes to win matches. Similarly, in project management, you plan, collaborate, and execute tasks to accomplish your project objectives.

As can be interpreted from the above example Project management helps ensure that a project delivers the expected outcomes on time and within budget. This takes -

  • Careful planning & Organizing

  • Budget planning and Cost Control

  • Managing Tasks & Collaboration

Project managers must apply the right tools, techniques, and processes to complete the project successfully.

Project management job categories and typical roles

Introductory-level project management roles

The following is the list of introductory-level project management roles -

  • Junior Project Manager

  • Project Administrator

  • Project/Program Assistant

  • Project/Program Coordinator

  • Project Support Specialist.

Traditional project management roles

The following is the list of traditional project management roles -

  • Project Manager

  • Project Analyst

  • Project Leader/Director

  • Project Controller

  • Technical Project Manager

  • Project Management Office (PMO) Analyst

In traditional project management roles, there is a clear hierarchy of the growth of project management roles as stated below;

Project Manager >> Program Manager >> Portfolio Manager

Project managers play a crucial role in guiding their teams and overseeing projects from initiation to completion. On the other hand, program managers are tasked with managing multiple projects concurrently, ensuring coordination and alignment between them. Further, portfolio managers take on the responsibility of overseeing portfolios, which can encompass multiple projects or programs, all tailored to meet the specific needs of a single client.

Operational management roles

The following is the list of operational management roles -

  • Operations Analyst

  • Operations Manager

  • Chief Operating Officer

Agile roles

This is a specialized role targeted for a very specific methodology of project management namely Agile with the usage of scrum framework, mostly used in software development industries. Its roles are listed as -

  • Scrum master

  • Product Owner

A poster signifying you matter in decision making

Value of a Project Manager

Project managers bring immense value to organizations by ensuring efficient project execution, mitigating risks, managing stakeholders, controlling budgets, maintaining quality standards, leading teams effectively, adapting to changes, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Their expertise and skills contribute to the success of projects and the overall achievement of organizational goals.

Below are the 3 most important traits that are essential to be a good project manager -


Once project managers have identified the tasks and broken them down into smaller steps, they engage in effective prioritization. They collaborate with their teams and stakeholders, gathering valuable insights and information, to develop a well-informed plan. By incorporating input from all relevant parties, project managers ensure that the most critical tasks are given priority and appropriately addressed in the project execution.


Project managers strategically assign tasks by aligning them with the unique skills and strengths of their team members. This thoughtful matching process ensures that each individual can contribute their expertise and perform tasks that are best suited to their abilities. By capitalizing on the strengths of the team, project managers optimize productivity and enhance the overall project success.

Effective Communication

Project managers must be able to convey information clearly, listen actively, and foster open and transparent communication channels within their teams and with stakeholders.

Clear communication helps in setting expectations, defining project objectives, and ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, above all ensuring that team members and stakeholders are on the same page.

Project Manager's Impact on Organizations

  • Focusing on the customer: Understanding the "why"

  • Building a great team: Bring people with the right skills and ensure the team knows that each individual is valued, trusted, and appreciated

  • Fostering relationships and communication

  • Managing the project

  • Breaking down barriers: Allow the team to innovate new ways to do things, and empower them to share ideas.

A bulb in hand showing the siginificance of understanding

Key project manager roles and responsibilities

Understanding project management is to learn and apply the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet the project requirements and achieve the desired outcome.

Planning and Organizing

  • Use of productivity tools and creating processes.

  • Create plans, timelines, schedules, and other forms of documentation to track project completion

Managing tasks

A project task is an activity that needs to be accomplished within a set period by you, your team, or your stakeholders

Budgeting, controlling costs, and other factors

  • Monitor and manage the budget

  • Track issues and risks as they arise

  • Manage quality by mitigating those issues and risks

  • Removing unforeseen barriers that come up

Responsibilities that utilize interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills refer to Influencing without authority, which refers to a project manager's ability to guide teammates to complete their assigned work without acting as their direct managers.

where the following interpersonal skill act as the anchor to get things done

  • Communication

  • Negotiation

  • Conflict mediation

  • Understanding motivations

Besides as you further hone the skills, the below-listed traits help you use your life experience to be better at work

  • Teaching and mentoring

  • Building relationships and networking

  • Controlling change

  • Empowering your team

  • Communicating status and concerns

a note with write up as ask an expert

Project manager as a Guide & Support

Project managers are responsible for guiding the team and ensuring that the team has the support they need to complete the project.

  • Hold all team members accountable for their assigned tasks

  • Issues and risks are tracked and visible, and be able to establish escalation paths.

  • Understand and help teammates adopt the right workflows and project management styles.

  • Collaborate with other teams at the organization to meet the requirements based on project, scope, schedule, and budget.

Cross-functional Team

As a project manager, you will likely work with cross-functional teams and work toward common goals with the following aspects -

  • Clarify goals

  • Get team members with the right skills

  • Measure progress

  • Recognize efforts

Stay Organized

The more organized you are in your actions, the more organized your team is in their thinking and their actions.

Core Skills of a project manager

The following outline the core skill a project manager should possess to be effective in his work;

  • Enabling decision-making

  • Communicating and escalating: When escalation is required, try to approach management with both the problem and the potential solution or suggestions.

  • Flexibility

The key is to know plans will change definitely
  • Strong organizational skills

  • Utilizing the abundance of organizational tools available, such as:

> Planning and scheduling software (templates, workflows, calendars)

> Collaboration tools (email, collaboration software, dashboards)

> Documentation (files, plans, spreadsheets)

> Quality assurance tools (evaluations, productivity trackers, reports)

Another important aspect is to have specific Industry Knowledge with the following understanding of project management usage of

  • Tools

  • Templates

  • Popular project management styles

A painting on a notepad with all the colors and brushes kept aside

Being Flexible

Adaptability is crucial for project managers as change is an unavoidable aspect of any project. By embracing flexibility, you can enhance your overall success in your career. Employing these flexible planning strategies enables you to effectively manage projects during uncertain times:

1. Evaluate external constraints: Take into account external factors that may affect the project's progress and make necessary adjustments to accommodate these constraints.

2. Prepare for risks and challenges: Anticipate potential risks and challenges that may arise during the project and develop contingency plans to mitigate their impact.

3. Calculate schedule "float": Determine the amount of time as "float" or "slack," that allows for task delays without jeopardizing the project timeline or its ultimate success. This buffer provides flexibility in scheduling and helps manage unforeseen delays or issues effectively.

Handling ambiguity

A brief list to handle ambiguity as it will always be part of project management work;

  • Keep calm

  • Express empathy

  • Communicate what you know clearly

  • Make decisions and stick to them

  • Trust the expertise of your team

Common misconception about project managers

Misconception 1: Only individuals with significant organizational experience can effectively manage projects.

Reality: Regardless of prior experience within an organization, mastering the skills, tools, and techniques of project management is crucial to becoming a successful project manager in any setting.

question mark symbol

Misconception 2: Project managers are expected to possess comprehensive knowledge of every project detail at all times.

Reality: As a project manager, your role entails effective communication with stakeholders, clarifying objectives, and setting expectations. Entrust your team with the task details, relying on them to inform you promptly of any issues. Your value lies in providing solutions, removing obstacles, and adopting a strategic problem-solving approach.

Misconception 3: Being an expert in the field and possessing extensive technical knowledge is a prerequisite for project management.

Reality: Project managers primarily rely on their ability to recruit experts and orchestrate the project's various components. Project managers don't need to be experts in every field.


Media from Wix

The Project Management Institute A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge


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