Have you watched the BBC Apprentice show? Each week, the candidates fight to be Project Manager in the hope that it’s their time to shine and impress Lord Sugar and each week as the task evolves, sparks fly, bad decisions are made and the projects generally fail.

Most haven’t had any project management training or understand what is involved in order to keep a project on track. It all adds to more exciting viewing to see it all go wrong!

Project management is one of those things that looks easy until you try it.

The fundamentals of managing a project from start to finish require a team of individuals with different talents and skills. Those people are responsible for planning and executing the project objectives and that takes more than just time and materials.

Each project follows a lifecycle and a “sound” project plan can mean the difference between success and failure. It’s a hard skill to master, but well worth learning.
And here are some reasons why:

1 Defines a plan and organizes chaos – projects are naturally chaotic. The primary business function of project management is organizing and planning projects to address this chaos. A clear path mapped out from start to finish ensures the outcome meets the business goals/customer needs.

2 Establishes a schedule and plan – Without a schedule, a project has a higher probability of delays and cost overruns. A sound schedule is key to a successful project.

3 Enforces and encourages teamwork – A project brings people together to share ideas and provide inspiration. Collaboration is the cornerstone to effective project planning and management.

4 Maximizes resources – Resources, whether reusable, replenishable or exhaustible, are expensive. By enforcing project management disciplines such as project tracking and risk management, all resources are used efficiently, effectively and economically.

5 Manages Integration – Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. They need to be integrated with business processes, systems and organizations.
You can’t build a sales system that doesn’t integrate with your sales process and sales organization. It wouldn’t add much value. Integration is often key to project value. Project management identifies and manages integration.

6 Controls cost – some projects can cost a significant amount of money, so on budget performance is essential. Using project management strategies greatly reduces the risk of budget overruns.

7 Manages change – projects always happen in an environment in which nothing is constant except change. Managing change is a complex and daunting task. It is not optional. Project management manages change.

8 Managing quality – Quality is the value of what you produce. Project management identifies, manages and controls quality. This results in a high quality product or service and a happy client.

9 Retain and use knowledge – projects generate knowledge or at least they should. Knowledge represents a significant asset for most businesses. Left unmanaged knowledge tends to quickly fade. Project management ensures that knowledge is captured and managed.

10 Learning from failure – projects do fail. When they do, it is important to learn from the process. Project management ensures that lessons are learned from project success and failure.