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Project Management Principles

Often, project management is associated with fields like construction, engineering, or web design, but it has more rapidly become a part of most companies’ operations. Any time a company wishes to undertake a new project or move a task towards completion, PMPs can help. PMPs are made up of five basic, universal principles (with multiple task specific principles) and can be utilized through many management methods – we will look at a few of the most common.

What is Project Management?

Project management is a way to break down tasks into manageable portions in order to complete an overall goal. This practice can be used for either simple or complex projects and for both temporary and long-term ones. Basically, it boils down to how a company (or person, organization, etc.) will manage its resources to complete an operation or task.

Each individual procedure for various projects will be different; with the tasks being determined by the project manager. But, overall, a project manager’s job is the same no matter what field or operation they are managing. They help create and define goals, assign a team to execute the project, and can help determine when the project has ended. They are also tasked with communication and quality assurance responsibilities before, during, and after the project is complete.

Five Basic PMPs

In management, the Project Management Institute (PMI) is widely recognized as an industry leader in PMP education. Throughout their coursework, they outline numerous PMPs for various scenarios, but the majority can be broken down into five basic principles: Initiating, Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Closing a project. Depending on your project the amount and order of these principles can change.


This step is fundamental because it outlines what the project itself is and determines why the project is taking place. It also defines who requested the project take place and outlines the approval needed to complete the project.

During this phase, you need to answer some helpful questions like:

• Should the project take place?

• Will it help the company and how?

• Is this the right time?

• What problem are you trying to solve with this project?

According to a Gallup Business Poll, only 2.5% of companies complete 100% of their projects each year. So to be successful (to finish on time, on budget, and satisfy the customer or stakeholder) it is important to know the project’s purpose and timeline.


The planning stage goes hand in hand with the initiating stage. During planning, several important steps will often take place. The PM will:

• Assemble the team for the project – this also involves assigning responsibilities to the individual team members.

• Define the project’s goals and schedule – including when team members will work, when milestones will be met, and when deliverables will be complete. Keep in mind factors like holidays, vacations, or team members’ prior commitments when scheduling the project.

• Create a budget for the project – depending on when the task needs completed, resource availability, etc.

• Consider the project’s risks – real costs, opportunity costs, time commitments, etc.

• Communicate these details with the team and appropriate stakeholders

With traditional project management, this step is one of the most important. However, with a different methodology like Agile management, it is less so.


This is where the work of the project gets done. Products are built and services take place. Information is collected and interpreted, processes are created and tested, and analyses are sent to management for approval.


Monitoring takes place during the execution phase. PMs need to engage in several activities during this phase, including:

• Defining project milestones

• Reviewing and tracking the project’s progress against pre-established milestones and overall goals

• Managing changing priorities and goals (50% of project managers say that shifting priorities is their top issue)

• Keep themselves and their team accountable – both require constant communication with each other and other internal/external stakeholders.


This step is critical to end the project. You do not want to end your project because of poor planning, budget constraints, or other failures. You want to end it because the goals have been met and the project is complete. To do this, there are a few actions project managers need to take. For instance, PMs need to:

• Make sure all the deliverables have been met – the stakeholders received what they wanted

• Collect final information and form a report

• Retrospect and measure success – this is when you determine what did/did not work and apply the information to the next project

• Calculate return on investment

• Disband the remaining team members


Following these steps, a project manager will have a framework to stick to and guide to know when the project is complete and that the customer is satisfied. Project managers often use a visual representation to plot these steps and follow them to completion. Most managers use Gantt charts because of their simplicity to set up and use, while charts like PERT charts give preferable information but are more difficult to use. Whichever you choose, it is useful to visually follow-through each step so you can accurately track your project’s progress.

Common Management Styles Using PMPs

Each manager and business will take the five PMPs and apply them to their project as needed. Some will follow the steps verbatim; this is called the traditional method. Others will adapt these methods to focus on one aspect over the others. Some of the most common alternate methods used in business today are Waterfall, Agile, and Lean.


The waterfall method is closely related to the traditional method, with a few differences. This method requires each task to be completed in order to begin the next task. The steps are linear, and progress only flows in one direction – like a waterfall.


Agility is an iterative process related to the computer industry. It focuses on flexibility and maneuverability, as well as constantly improving deliverables. It does not follow a linear, step-by-step process but has processes running alongside others. This is helpful for identifying issues quickly and resolving them without completely restarting the process.


Lean is a process that relies on eliminating waste. To find out more click HERE.

Project management principles can be very useful when it comes to completing projects or tasks. While there are many methodologies for this type of management, there are five principles that are the most common. Following these steps can help you complete your project on time, on budget, and to your customer’s satisfaction.

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