What is project management and why should I care?

Let’s kick this off with an insanely important premise:

Project management is a tool that will help you achieve any goal. And project management is fun!

What is project management and why should I care? | new series from strategysarah.com

When I talk about project management with people who aren’t project managers, I tend to get a lot of blank stares. Um, what is project management? Unless of course, the person happens to work in technical fields, such as engineering, IT or software. I also get a lot of shudders.

I’ve heard the term called exhausting, torture, anxiety-inducing, and a whole lot of four-letter words. That makes me sad.

When starting a series on “Project Management for Creatives,” I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a catchier name that didn’t make it sound potentially negative. But the truth is, project management is important for creatives. And project management isn’t a four-letter word!

We’re here to de-mystify project management. Let’s start with a definition of what project management is, and how that applies to the creative space.

The Project Management Institute, which is the world’s leading authority on project management, defines project management as follows:

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. 1

How’s that for a load of words that could be applied to absolutely anything?! Key note: Project management isn’t limited to any particular industry or type of project. It’s universally applicable.

What is project management in real, everyday terms?

Project management is simply how you get the work done that you need to get done in order to be successful. It structures out the beginning, middle and end of a project. Project management gives a clear framework for what to do when, and how to do it.

So, what is project management for a web designer? Let’s re-write the PMI definition substituting in specifics for a web designer:

Project management is used to ensure a designer can use their design and communication skills to design a website on time, on budget and to customer specifications.

Have you ever had any of these challenges:

  • Gotten 80% done with a project and stalled out?
  • Had a potential customer contact you about work and never gotten around to following up with a proposal?
  • Gotten paid peanuts per hour because you wildly under-estimated the amount of time a project would take?
  • Had a client keep adding more requests to the work you initially agreed upon?

All of these challenges are eliminated with clear application of project management skills and techniques. And you can learn them. You don’t have to, of course. There is an entire industry of project managers out there that truly love doing this (myself included). It’s up to you to decide if you want to learn to manage your projects better, or hire someone to do it for you. Likely, you’ll do a combination of both.

In this series, my goal is to show you that you can manage your own projects, and equip you with tools to do so. Additionally, you’ll also learn key things to know and look for if you chose to hire a project manager.

Project management done well makes your life so much easier, and your work so much better. And that’s a win for everyone!

What has been your experience with project management or project managers? What’s the number one thing you’d like to know about project management?

Read the rest of the series here.

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