According to the website of the Microsoft Project users group, project management is an activity that involves planned parts of a project into a logical sequence. The project is then managed so that a project is completed on time and on budget. Project management can be used for the development of a new product or service.
A project must be defined so that the project team works together as a cohesive group and so that those allocating resources to the project know what to expect. According to the website Spotty Dog, project definition includes outlining what the purpose of the project is and what benefits will be derived from the project. Another component is to define the scope of the project. Project scope identifies what will and will not be included in a project. For example, if there is a project to study the efficiencies of a manufacturing company with worldwide locations, project scope could be defined as only studying efficiencies of U.S. locations.
A list of steps to accomplish the steps in a project should be developed with an estimated start and end date for each step. In addition, the deliverable for each step should be noted. A deliverable is the result of a step. For example, if a step was to report on findings and recommendations, the deliverable for that step would be a findings and recommendations report. In addition to tasks, the interrelationship of each task to the other should be specified. For example, if the start of one task is dependent on the completion of another that should be noted. Another important concept in mapping out the tasks is the concept of critical path. According to the site Project Management Knowledge, the critical path is the sequence of tasks that equal the calendar time frame for calendar completion of the project. A project manager pays close attention to tasks that are along the critical path because if any of those tasks are delayed, more calendar time will be required to complete the project.
Part of the staffing of a project is the selection of a project sponsor. A project sponsor is a senior level executive who assures that the project is accepted by others in the organization, handles any political issues that arise and champions the project with others in the organization. The people assigned to a project are critical to its success. A project manager should be selected who is highly organized, has the people skills to manage members of the team and has enough technical knowledge of the areas the project addresses to understand the project plan and ongoing activities. Members of the project team should be selected based on required skills -- for example, for a software development project, a staff member versed in software testing and quality control would be required.
To effectively control the project, one tool often used is project management software. This software tracks the planned and actual completion of project tasks and the impact of late tasks on the overall completion of the project. Such software often tracks actual against planned expenses as well.