Projects are conducted by businesses for a set period of time and with specific goals. Companies allot a specific amount of resources and budgets for the management and successful completion of these temporary endeavors. Teams are typically assigned to projects and these teams may be from different organizations and/or different geographical locations, including different countries. The types of projects companies undertake may be expanding sales into new geographic markets, constructing a new building or bridge, or even coordinating the relief effort after a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster. These are only a few examples of the wide variety of projects that require management.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project requirements.” All projects must be managed by skilled, knowledgeable professionals to meet the organization’s deadlines and to stay within budget requirements. The core responsibilities of project management are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing projects. The areas that project management professionals pay attention to in their work are: integration, scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communications, risk management, and stakeholder management.
The field of project management is relatively young. While project management has been conducted in businesses for hundreds of years, it was never done formally. The tasks involved in managing a project were usually handled by someone who also had numerous other responsibilities to handle. One area where the tools and techniques for project management originated is in construction projects. To complete the projects, architects, engineers, and master builders needed to develop the plans, coordinate the logistics, communicate with each other throughout the construction process, and oversee the workers and quality of the work. Modern project management began in the 1950s, with project management being recognized as a distinct discipline.
There are more than 2 million project management professionals employed throughout the world, as reported by PMI. Many businesses run complicated projects that require effective project management. Industries that use project management include construction, manufacturing, engineering, architecture, and real estate development. Project managers work in information technology and with Internet companies, where they coordinate the development and implementation of new applications or manage new site launches. Project managers in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals help with the introduction of new products or technologies to the market or with developing and managing strategic alliances with business partners. Project managers who coordinate and manage campaigns for advertisers and market research companies work for media companies. Banks and insurance companies may also contract project managers to help them integrate new business standards or practices into their branch offices.
Many people get their start in the project management field by being hired as an assistant or coordinator on a team project. They may start as a project scheduler, which is a more administrative role than that of assistant or coordinator. With several years of assistant or coordinator experience, people may take the lead in managing a project on their own or leading a project management team.