What is project risk management

What are the advantages of project management?

Not every company or team has an official project management process. Regardless of whether you work for a large company or a fast-growing startup: It often happens that an official project management process has not yet been established. But over time, you find it harder and harder to stay organized and work with teammates. You may be wondering if you should pay more attention to project management. But wait a minute: It's only for teams with their own project managers, isn't it?

Or maybe not. Maybe you don't need an extra project manager at all. At Asana, we believe project management skills help teams complete projects more efficiently. Finding a way to plan, manage, and execute tasks is relevant to any team and company. While you might not need every part of a traditional project management system, your team could still benefit from some of the fundamental aspects of project management.

What is project management?

Project management helps your team organize, track and carry out project work. Think of a project as a collection of tasks that lead towards a specific goal. Project management can help your team plan, manage, and execute work so you can deliver results on time. A project management tool allows your team to organize all aspects of your work in one place, share information about the current work progress with others and provide feedback. This ultimately makes the collaboration more effective.

[Worth reading: How to choose project management software for your team] *

You don't have to constantly switch between spreadsheets, emails, and other tools to keep your projects going according to plan. With a project management tool, your team can:

  • Coordinate cross-departmental work
  • Manage project plans, details, files and feedback in one place
  • Share status updates with everyone involved
  • Improve teamwork
The history of project management

Project management developed out of the convergence of different aspects of engineering at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the most important tools and techniques of modern project management did not emerge until the 1950s. At that time, project management became a recognizable independent methodology that was mostly used in engineering projects. In 1969 the Project Management Institute (PMI) was officially founded; the organization played an important role in defining and consolidating project management over the next several decades. The PMI not only offers certifications for project managers, it has also published the manual “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” (also called PMBOK) since 1996 and updates it regularly.

Previously, the role of project manager was a separate position - often occupied by an employee who was trained in project management methods and procedures and who had a certificate from an organization such as the PMI. You needed a project manager to organize projects because the tools required were difficult to set up and use, and often required special skills.

Modern project management is different. Instead of complex certifications and incomprehensible technical jargon, it is now possible for everyone to be a project manager. In fact, at Asana, we believe that when you're organizing a project, no matter what kind of project, you're a project manager. This flexibility and popularization of project management is in large part a result of improved modern project management software. The times of cumbersome, confusing tools are over: Modern project management is flexible, visually appealing and adapts to you - not the other way around.

The basics of modern project management

There are many technical terms in project management, but don't let that put you off: If you're just getting started or want to know what your colleagues mean when they call something an “agile method” or talk about the “project scope”, here is an overview the types, components, processes and roles of project management compiled for you.

Types of project management

Project management helps your team keep track of all of the work it takes to meet the requirements of a project within the set deadline. But within this general definition of project management there are different types, methods and approaches. These include:

  • Agile project management.Agile is a type of lean project management popular with product, engineering, and software development teams. At Agile, teams use the concept of continuous improvement and benefit from flexibility in the event of changes, recurring processes and gradual evolution. Some of the most popular agile frameworks are Scrum and Kanban.
  • Waterfall model. In the waterfall model, tasks “fall” linearly from one level to the next: as soon as one task has been completed, the next one can be started, and so on. The waterfall model has six phases: requirements, analysis, design, programming, testing, and deployment. The model is best suited for projects where the work products and scope are fixed from the start, as the waterfall method can be less flexible than other project management methods.
  • PRINCE2 method. PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments (projects in controlled environments). In the PRINCE2 project management method, projects are divided into seven processes: preparing a project, directing a project, initiating a project, managing the phase transition, controlling a phase, managing product delivery and completing a project.
  • Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). CPM and PERT were developed as the first project management methods in the 1950s. CPM offers an algorithm to map the critical path, i.e. the most important processes, between complex, linked tasks with defined time frames. With CPM, teams can determine the longest section of interdependent tasks and thus the minimum duration of the project. PERT helps teams determine the critical path when the schedule and timeframe are unknown. In PERT, project managers identify all the tasks that need to be done (not just the critical path) to determine the minimum time to complete the project.
The most important components and terms

There is no official list of all the components of project management - primarily because there are different types of project management, and each has its own components, processes, and formats. Typically, any project management method or tool will include:

Smart goals

Every project should have a set goal. When describing your project goal, it is best to use SMART goals. This ensures that your key figures and criteria are clearly formulated and that you can precisely measure the success of your project.

Project plan

A project plan is a signpost with all the important steps your team must take in order to successfully achieve your project goals.

[Worth reading: How to create a project plan with which your project really goes according to plan]

budget

Most projects have a budget that limits and defines your work during the project.

Project risks

Project risk is anything that could go wrong in your project, such as over budget or due date. The procedures that are used to identify risks before the start of the project and then to avoid them as best as possible are called project risk management.

Project scope

The scope of the project is also defined during the planning process, i.e. the size, constraints, budget and objectives of the project. If you know the scope of the project, you can prevent the project from growing in size unnoticed and then running the risk that the goals and work processes go beyond the scope.

Resource management plan

A resource management plan is a plan for how you want to divide your team's resources - whether it's workload, technical tools, or budget. Creating a resource management plan for your project will help you manage and plan your team's resources in the best possible way, thereby maximizing resource availability.

[Worth reading: your guide to getting started with resource management]

Important stakeholders

Project participants are everyone who is involved in your project. These can be members of a cross-functional team or employees from the management level, for example.

Timeline

The vast majority of projects work with a timeline - a start date when work begins and an end date when it is completed.

[Worth reading: 7 steps to creating a project timeline]

Results

The results are the content, files, or products that you will have completed by the end date. Results can include, for example, advertisements for a brand campaign or new functions for a product launch.

Milestones

Milestones are milestones that indicate that a section of work is done or a new one is starting. In contrast to results that represent a product or work result, a milestone is a point in time.

[Worth reading: setting, achieving and celebrating project milestones]

Dependencies

Your project can also have dependencies if one task cannot begin until another is done. If your project has a lot of dependencies, perhaps the best way to visualize your work is as a timeline with a Gantt chart.

Progress and status updates

As you manage your project, at some point you will send progress reports and status updates to stakeholders. Good reports can improve interdepartmental clarity and collaboration.

[Worth reading: How to write an effective status report on your project]

Project management process

No project is the same: depending on what and in which team you are working, and how the team members prefer to work together, your project will be different from others. However, projects typically have four main phases that are part of the project management process:

  1. Set the scope. During this phase you put together your project team and determine the scope of the project. Depending on the complexity and scope of the project, you may also want to create a project strategy plan.
  2. Planning. Project planning means that you define your project requirements and define the circumstances under which the project will be considered "successful". This project phase is crucial for successful project management - and therefore also for achieving your project goals. During the planning phase you will create your project plan, set the most important milestones and define project costs and the project timeframe.
  3. Execution. The largest part of your project will be the execution phase, during which you and your team work on the project results. During the execution phase, you should pay attention to workload management, time management, and task management to ensure that your team is pulling together, on schedule, and not overwhelmed by work.
  4. Reporting. Reporting takes place during and after the execution phase. As the project progresses, reports help you stay on track, collaborate, and increase the visibility of your work to cross-functional teams. Once the project is complete, you can share how it went and discuss with other stakeholders what you can do better on future projects.
FAQ: What about ongoing projects?

The best way to manage an ongoing project (such as a bug tracking project or a creative inquiry project) is through work management. Project management is part of work management and helps you to coordinate individual projects. Work management software is there to help teams manage both individual projects and processes that have no specific beginning or end.

[Worth reading: work management vs. project management - what is the difference]

5 advantages of project management

If you're still unsure whether or not you need project management, read on to learn about the benefits of project management. At the same time, we will show you a few simple ways to incorporate these ideas into the way your team works without the need for an elaborate degree or certified course.

1. Clear, organized plans ensure better teamwork

If you've ever gotten into a project without a plan, you know how messy things can be right from the start. You may be skipping important steps in your project plan, stressing a forgotten task that you had to do at the last minute, or repeating the same questions about the process: “When is this due? What do we do next? ”Worse, the quality of your work can suffer if you rush to finish the project.

Rather than drawing up the plan while the project is well underway, it would be better to plan all of the upcoming tasks before starting the project. Establish responsibilities, expectations, and due dates. Then visualize your project tasks on a timeline or in a categorized list to clearly define who is doing what by when. For example, if you are planning an event, you can list every single step leading up to the main event. Include who is responsible for each step and how far in advance you need to do them. You can then plan the due dates in a joint project calendar. This way you avoid last minute invitations or two teammates booking two different caterers (oops!).

[Worth reading: How to create a project plan that really goes according to plan]

By creating a clear plan of all of your project's to-dos and then adding deadlines, assignees, and other important details, you can turn the otherwise chaotic and wasteful implementation process into an efficient one. You then have a clear idea of ​​the scope and timing of your work and can identify potential conflicts before the start of the project. With a little foresight and planning, you will waste less time and resources - and who doesn't want that?

Tips for planning projects
  • Make a list of all the tasks before you begin. Then add details like due dates, assignees, status or links to relevant files. If it's a new type of project for your team, add a little bit of slack for unforeseen steps or difficulties.
  • Organize everything in a common plan. Whether you're using a simple list or calendar, or something more visual like a timeline or Kanban boards, you'll want to organize your plan so that everyone can easily see who is doing what and when. Then share your plan with key stakeholders to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Turn projects that repeat themselves into a template. If it's a project that you repeat over and over, create a template. You can then easily adjust this the next time and thus save time in the planning phase.

“To successfully manage a project, you need to set priorities. You will never have as much time and resources as we all would like. To get it all done, you need to focus on the things that will have the greatest impact. Then make sure these priorities are clear to all key stakeholders and your employees so that you can communicate expectations and let your team members focus on what matters most. ”Corri Skinner, Executive Director of Vox Creative's Customer Success Department at Vox Media

2. A clear division of roles eliminates ambiguity

As soon as the preparatory work has been completed, the actual management part of project management continues. Without a clear project owner to help your team cross the finish line, trouble can quickly arise. Teammates do not complete certain tasks, details are forgotten or it is unclear who to turn to with questions.

[Worth reading: How to effectively coordinate your team's workload]

While companies with an official project management process usually have a project manager who ensures that projects go according to plan, those without such a process often leave that responsibility to the person who leads or initiates the project. For example, if you're an editor publishing a new series of articles, a developer doing a website migration, or an account manager updating their customer reporting systems, you are likely also the person who coordinates all of the ongoing operations of your project .

Fortunately, you don't have to take on an extra job to manage your project effectively. A little communication and collaboration can go a long way. Make it clear to everyone that you are the point of contact for your project; then everyone else involved knows who to turn to with questions and where to get status updates. Additionally, when you describe the role of everyone else in the project, you remove any confusion about how you want your teammates to get involved.

Tips for managing projects
  • Make sure your role (and that of everyone else) is clearly communicated. Whether in the planning phase or at the beginning of your project - make sure that everyone knows who is leading the project (you!) And what responsibility the other participants have.
  • Consult with the person responsible for the task and answer their questions. Since you have a clear plan in place, those involved already know what they are responsible for. Support her now so that everything goes according to plan and check the progress of her work. Also, make sure task owners have access to everything they need to do their job.
  • Share status updates with others on a regular basis. Keep up the pace by sharing updates with your team on project progress. As a result, not only are everyone up to date and questions about updates are reduced, but those involved also remain motivated.

“With Asana, we can work together better in all areas. There is a big project that everyone is working on at the same time. Dalton doesn't have his own project that should ultimately lead to the same goal: It's more like we're all pulling together. ”Julia Bersin, Senior Manager of Demand Generation at Guru

3. Clearly defined goals improve the effectiveness of your team

A project can't really be a success if teams don't know what they're working towards. Without clearly defined goals, team members are not only less motivated, but they also run the risk of working on the wrong goals and spending too much time on monotonous work that has little effect.

With a project management tool, you can set the goals of your project before you even start. In this way, everyone involved learns which project goals they are working towards and can optimize their work along the way. For example, if your project aims to introduce a new product, you can set a goal of "a 20 percent increase in upgrades". This goal, in turn, would influence your implementation decisions as the project develops. It would also serve as a metric to measure post-launch success.

The members of your project team also benefit from the in-depth analysis of the problem that you want to solve. This allows you to follow a “north star” and concentrate on the tasks that have a positive effect on achieving the goals. This means that your team does not dwell on less important tasks.

Tips for setting project goals
  • Think about why you are starting this project. Ask yourself: why is it important? Who does it affect? How does this project fit into the larger goals of your company? Does it fit the work that other teammates might already be doing? What results do we think we will achieve with this initiative?
  • Share your goals with everyone involved. Before planning your project, share your goals with everyone who needs to be involved. Depending on how your team works, you can either do this in an opening meeting by letting a document go around, or share it all through a project management tool. It is important that everyone understands the goals (and “non-goals”) of your initiative.
  • Establish a process to monitor progress and report on your goals. Goals should not be set in order to be forgotten again afterwards. Make sure you have a plan to regularly review and report on your goals. This way you can easily see if you are at risk of missing your target. If so, it's easy to adjust your plans to help you achieve your goal.

“With Asana, we got an overview of all of our work. That in turn allowed us to set new priorities and strategies for our processes. ”Carla De Ciccio, Content Strategist at the Telfer School of Management

4. A communication plan ensures targeted and focused teamwork

We are talking about "project management", but the management aspect is only a piece of the pie. Before you start working, you should prepare a communication plan. Your team is most likely using an email, messenger, and project management tool, among other things. With a communication plan you determine when which tool should be used. An example: At Asana, we use e-mail for external communication, Slack for internal short messages and Asana for all the tasks that we want to carry out.

The average employee has to deal with a jumble of at least 10 tools every day. If there are no clear guidelines as to when and which tool to use, it is confusing at best for an employee, and completely overwhelming at worst. A communication plan is a thing of the past: decision fatigue is prevented and every team member is on the same page.

[To download: Report on the anatomy of the work]

Tips for creating a communication plan
  • Establish communication standards. Most importantly, your communication plan should provide clarity on how to use tools and how often the team is shorting out.
  • Allow feedback to be shared. Your communication plan should be equally useful to all team members, so everyone involved needs to be on the same page. Give the opportunity for feedback and joint workshops so that the communication plan is effective for everyone involved.
  • Determine the parties involved and their roles. Which parties should be involved in which processes? Are there employees who need to approve content before it is published and should be notified? Identify the people involved in your project and their roles in your communication plan.
  • Define the frequency and type of status updates. One of the most important parts of your communication plan is the method by which you report on the progress of the project. Ideally, all of the tasks to be performed are noted in your project management tool. This makes it easy to schedule status updates and share them with others.

“By no longer receiving inquiries via email, but using Asana to collaborate more effectively, we've saved 60 hours a month. We now use this time for strategic planning instead of managing many different work processes. " -

Walter Gross, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Sony Music

5. Project management tools increase efficiency

To put these tips into action, consider using a project management tool. Such a tool will help your team work better together and get the job done on schedule.

While there are literally dozens of tools to choose from, more traditional project management tools shouldn't be shortlisted. These are often intended for formal, traditional processes and often take a lot of time to set up and introduce staff. Instead, you should look out for something that is easy to use, flexible, and customizable. Bonus points are awarded if you can link cross-project tasks with one another in the tool (which is difficult in e-mails and tables). You should also be able to communicate with your teammates wherever your tasks are.

[Worth reading: 9 ways to increase the efficiency of your team]

Of course, we think Asana is the right choice and an excellent option for companies looking to improve their project management quickly. This requires a tool that is both easy to use and has the functions your team needs to work together successfully.

Tips for using a project management tool
  • Bring all employees together in one central tool. Instead of letting each team or team member use a different project management tool, agree on one tool that everyone will use. That way, you can better encourage collaboration and avoid confusion about where to find important information.
  • Establish application standards. So that everyone feels confident in using the new tool, here are a few simple guidelines. For example, you could say, “Always add a due date to tasks” or “Add the keyword 'Marketing' to all marketing project titles” or “If you have a request with an actionable person for someone, create one Task in our project management tool instead of sending it by email ”.
  • Share status updates and reports with others. The quickest way for your teammates to see the value of a tool is to give them more insight into the project status and progress. By sharing status updates with others and reporting project progress in your new tool, your team members can better understand the status of the work. This offers an incentive to use the tool for your own work.

“My most important project management tip is to take the time to reflect after a project. This enables you to record everything you have learned in a template. This will prepare you the next time you need to plan and manage a similar project. ”Kerry Anne Hoffman, Senior Project Manager, Marketing Operations, ClassPass

I want to become a project manager. How do I do that?

Congratulations, you are now a project manager! No, really: you don't have to do anything else. When project management was still in its infancy, there were standardized training courses and certificates that you had to have in order to be among the “project management professionals”. But that has changed over the past few decades, thanks in large part to the popularization and expansion of team roles. Originally, you needed a project manager to manage your projects - as more team leaders started managing their own projects, project management went from being a job to being a skill.

Modern project management tools take this change into account. At Asana, we believe anyone can be a project manager. If you work in a team and your team is working on a project, then you can be a project manager - without having to learn a new tool. You just need a tool that adapts to you, not the other way around.

Project management tools

Project management tools are a visual way to create clarity and connect with your team. Think about how your team is currently managing their work. Unless you work in a common project management tool, your team's projects, tasks, files, and communications are likely to be spread across many tools, which has disadvantages in terms of team visibility and coordination. Without a single source of information, team members will have no clarity on what their priorities are and will likely spend a lot of time answering this question. According to the report on the anatomy of work, we spend 60% of our time every day on work-related work (i.e. looking for documents, obtaining permits or numerous meetings) instead of specialist or strategic activities.

An online project management tool gives you a better way to communicate priorities and coordinate who has to do what by when. Project management tools provide several types of real-time visualizations of project work to help teams get more clarity. Here is an overview of the most popular of them:

Kanban boards

Kanban boards are a visual way to track the progress of your project. On a Kanban board, progress is shown in vertical columns, and tasks move from one column to the next until they are completed. For example, a typical Kanban board might have the columns for work that are in "New", "In Progress", or "Done".

Learn more about tools for Kanban boards

Gantt charts

Gantt charts are horizontal bar charts and are used to visualize the timeline of a project. In a Gantt chart, tasks are shown as horizontal bars. The length of the bars indicates how long it will take to complete a task.

Learn more about the technology behind Gantt charts

calendar

Project calendars are a great way to present your tasks in a temporal context and to clearly visualize the upcoming tasks in the coming week or month. Project calendars are a popular view for projects that have many different tasks with different due dates, including, for example, editorial calendars or content calendars for social media.