15 Key Project Management Principles

Editorial Team

Project Management Principles

Regardless of the type of project or location, there is one thing that unites all projects, principles. The diversity of all projects is brought together in a sole umbrella that involves various guidelines. Project management principles ensure that all the parties in the project are aware of their roles. Besides that, it provides a comprehensive outline of what is expected from the start to the end of the project. The principles explain factors such as when/ how/ what? They are considered to be the core fundamental concepts of successful and efficient completion of projects.

There is definitely a wide range of project management principles. However, there are those principles that are considered vital and every project should be based on them, regardless of the size. Here is an overview of the top 15 project management principles.

1. Project Objective

This is definitely considered the top and most important project management principals. It’s here that you get the direction of the project and the momentum of handling tasks. From objectives, we can determine the right professionals to work with, the type of resources that are needed, and so many other important factors.

This principle describes what’s expected once the project has been completed. It should be noted that an objective is usually measurable and also specific. Furthermore, it should be able to meet, budget, quality, and time. Most objectives are usually based on the SMART acronym.

  • Specific = the tangible outcome is usually direct to the point based on 5Ws i.e. who/ When/What, etc.
  • Measurable = the objective has a specific quantity
  • Attainable= it should be achievable
  • Realistic=it should be practically based on time, money, and team expertise
  • Timely= there should be a clear date of completion

2. Project Stakeholders

Stakeholders have vested interests in the success of the project. It’s anyone or a group of people who may be affected by any activity or outcome of the project. Two main groups of stakeholders include:

i. Internal Stakeholders: they have direct access to the project e.g. the project manager, team, and sponsor among others.

ii. External Stakeholders: they have an indirect link to the project. This could be through the resources or guidelines that they provide. They include users, the supplier, government, subcontractor, and local community among others.

All stakeholders tend to share almost similar cultures. For instance:

• Communication

• Decision making

• Negotiations

3. Project Management Approach

This principle is based on the methodology in which project management is carried out. The methodology helps to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the project. Project managers normally use various methods to accomplish this. They include:

i. Lean: streamlines resources and eliminates wastes. Lean is used to attain optimal results with minimal resources.

ii. Agile: an iterative collaboration in order to deliver any project that works

iii. Kanban: it improves the visibility of active tasks by improving speed and minimizing the chances of multitasking.

iv. Scrum: it promotes faster project delivery by enhancing the work of a cross-functional, small, and self-managing project team.

v. Waterfall: it’s one of the most popular methodologies. Waterfall focus on ensuring projects are planned fully and they are executed in various phases.

To choose the best methodology:

• Understand the simplicity and complexity of the project

• Have a clue of the flexibility and rigidity of the working environment

• Understand your organization goals and objectives

• Know the pros and cons of the methodology that you have chosen.

4. Project Requirements

This principle is based on conditions that must be attained for the successful completion of the project. Basically, project requirements give an overview of what is expected to be done. It normally aligns with the objects of the stakeholders as well as the available resources.

There are mainly three types of project requirements:

i. Stakeholder

ii. Solution

iii. Business

The best thing about having requirements is that it helps to improve communication and the success rate of the project is usually very high.

5. Project Scope

Every project is implemented with specified functions and features. A Project Scope specifically defines these components, from planning until the project is finished. This normally involves getting detailed information from the shareholders in order to create a product that meets their requirements.

As one of the most essential principles in project management, there are about six core components of the project scope and they include:

i. Planning of the scope management with stakeholders in order to create a management plan.

ii. Collecting all the required elements based on surveys, needs, interviews, and discussions.

iii. Defining and documenting the scope of the project

iv. Creating a detailed breakdown structure of the project

v. Approval of the scope after reviews

vi. Scope control based on performance and requirements

6. Project Team

A project team involves different members of various groups. This is one of the basic and also the most essential factor within any project management process. The composition of the project team includes:

  • The Project Sponsor

This is the main driver of the project. The sponsor usually has its own interest in the project hence they work around the clock for its success. A project sponsor belongs to the senior management team and they are responsible for providing resources.

  • The Project Manager

This is the chief team member and they are responsible for ensuring the quality, as well as the successful implementation of the project, has been achieved.

  • Project Team

They work with other team members with various levels of expertise and at different project phases. It should be noted that a project team member may be in-house staff. Alternatively, they could also be outsourced consultants.

7. Roles and Responsibilities

Each team, as well as its members, has a specific role that it plays in the implementation of the project. Defining roles helps to minimize the amount of time that is wasted in brainstorming and focus on performing.

When roles and responsibilities are defined, then everyone in the team has clarity as well as alignment. There will also know what is expected of them. This helps to seamlessly integrate different levels of departments as well as organization. In order to effectively assign roles and responsibilities:

• Every team should know what they are expected to achieve

• Possible challenges that they may face

• Duration of the tasks

This principle has a lot of benefits in any project as it helps:

• To ensure that you hire the right team members who are qualified for the job

• It promotes better project collaboration between the involved parties

• Organization and development of strong and successful teams

• Efficiency and effectiveness in handling and completing different parts of the project. This helps to minimize the chances of errors.

Some of the roles and responsibilities of team members include:

Project Manager

• Responsible for developing the project plan

• Leading the whole project team

• Assigning tasks to each team member

• Creating a methodology for project implementation

• Facilitating communication between the team members and upper management

• Recommending and approving changes

Team Members

• Following the objectives outlined by the project manager

• Using their expertise to implement the project

• Working with other team members within the specified timeframe

• Complete their individual tasks

• Offering suggestions

• Documenting the whole implementation process

Project Sponsor

• Approving the project budget

• Making vital business decisions

• Communicating project goals and status

• Availing all the needed resources

8. Project Cost and Budget

Money talks and that’s the end of it. Want a good project to be produced efficiently? Then you must plan to invest heavily. But getting the right budget isn’t easy. There are so many non-essential factors that you should also include in your budgeting, just in case they arise and cost you heavily.

Project cost and budget principles involve setting a fixed main budget, implementing estimation costs as well as managing all the costs. But all these can only be effective if you have a team, fully understand the scope of the project, expected goals, and the available resources.

However, both costs and budgets are not fixed and are bound to change. This normally happens when:

• In case the total planned costs end up being insufficient

• The scope of the project changes

To get the overall cost of the project, this principle usually focuses on the following categories

• Cost of equipment

• Labor cost

• Cost of resource supply

• Training and traveling costs

• Overhead costs

9. Project Schedule

Every project has a timeframe or lifespan and that’s where the project schedule comes in. This principle seems like a passive form of communication as it’s used to communicate the relevant tasks that need to be done within a specific period.

If there is no project schedule, the project manager and the team will not know if they are behind or ahead in completing their tasks. Besides that, there will be no sequential workflow as everything will be in disarray.

To schedule a project, you need to know:

• What task needs to be done

• How should it be done

• When should it be done?

• Who is responsible for handling it

These four questions are important in ensuring that activities, dates, team members, and methods of handling are all in sync. The principle helps you:

• Define project tasks

• Carry out budget estimates and then

• Assemble the team

10. Project Communication

The project management process involves different teams that work together to attain the same end goal. To ensure this happens, then there should be project communication. This is one of the most crucial project management principles because it ensures that the team and the client are the same levels of understanding.

The project communication principle involves specific guidelines regarding how information should glow between the involved parties. Each team has to share information with the relevant body, creating a channel of communication. But why is this principle very important? Well:

• It helps to ensure that the project is handled perfectly and aligns with the previously set goals

• It provides a platform where team members and the client can share updates and feedbacks

• Highlights the expectations of the project

• Enhances the productivity of different teams that are involved

• It provides a “visual” platform where the relevant stakeholders can get an overview of the project as well as its status at different levels.

There are various communication methods that can be used. They include:

• Meetings i.e. video chats, phone calls, and in-person

• Collaboration applications

• Emails

• To-do lists

• Status reports

• Discussion boards

11. Project Risk Management Process

This principle is an ongoing process that involves identifying, analyzing and solving project risks. Note that all projects usually have a life cycle and during these things the project manager should prepare for any risk. Research studies indicate that the risk management process is reactive in that it helps to counter anything that may slow down the implementation of the project.

When a risk arises during the implementation of a project, it will affect your budget. In addition to that, it will also affect its overall performance as well as the duration of completion. A risk is considered as a potential that has the possibility of becoming a reality. When it becomes a reality, it then becomes an issue or problem that should be solved.

To avert issues, there is a risk management process principle that helps to prioritize, categorize, and identify all the risks that are expected to happen during the lifetime of the project. However, this principle tends to vary, depending on the size of the project. For instance, if the project is small then the type of expect risks are small and vice-versa if the project is big.

12. Project Change Management Process

One of the project management principles that have evolved over the years is the change management process. Core components of this principle include plans, models, and processes. They have all undergone a significant level of improvement to ensure that the impact of change is felt only within the project but the whole organization.

Change management models are usually developed after extensive research to cater to the needs of the specific organization and its project. For this principle to be implemented, you have to:

• Identify the part of the project that needs improvement.

• Present your case to the relevant stakeholders

• After approval, plan for the change

• Use the needed resources to implement the change

• Have budgeting that caters for associated risks, manage and monitor resistance

• Communicate with the relevant authorities

• Revise, review, and repeat.

Note: change is not easy for any aspect of life. This is also similar to the change management process. It’s usually ongoing and strategies have to be adjusted from time to time. Additionally, there have to be allocated resources for this as well as communication with the relevant authorities.

13. Project Issue Management Process

This principle provides an easier way of identifying issues and resolving them. The issue management process is usually spread across different tasks and it involves various teams. Generally, it’s designed to give you a broad way of identifying the issues that might affect the project during the implementation process. Besides that, it’s vital for documenting these issues in order to capture the key details and find the appropriate team that can quickly solve the problem.

• This efficient technique specifically involves three steps:

• Identification and documentation of the project issue

• The impact of the issue and its priority

• Development of an executable plan

14. Project Quality Management Process

This is another vital principle that helps to ensure that all the aspects of the project are efficient and effective. This includes the planning process, design of the project as well as implementation of the project.

It should be noted that the project quality management process isn’t an independent principle. This is a continuous process that is normally created at the onset of every project and it ends when the project is completed. This principle mainly focuses on ensuring the quality of the project is maintained and it may involve certain alterations and improvements.

15. Critical Success Factors

Lastly, success factors form a vital aspect of any project management principles. Critical Success Factors (CSF) help to define what’s successful and what’s considered as a failure. It should be noted that CSF usually falls under these categories:

  • The cost of the project
  • Time the project is expected to be completed
  • The quality of the project
  • Project changes among others

Overall, CSF help to ensure that you follow a specific procedure to attain your goals. And the end goal should be of high-quality as well as within the expected time-frame.

The Bottom Line

Principles are important in determining the success or failure of a project. It is like a scorecard that offers a detailed overview of what is expected, how to make appropriate plans, who to work with, when to do certain activities, etc. It holds resources as well as the taskforce and stakeholders together.

The above-mentioned principles are considered the core. This is because they promote planning, objectives, accountability, refinement, and evaluation among others. Regardless of the role you play in the development of the project, these principles easily shed light on what happens at different levels of project implementation. Using them guarantees you efficiency and high chances of success.