Project Management Made Simple

rental home management is a term that in some respects appears ubiquitous, yet in practice, it seems to still be relatively confined to big business. While this may be the case, the underpinnings of project management are actually quite simple and can be adapted by virtually anyone. But, before we get too far down this path I think it is important to look at what project management is…and what it is not.

First, project management is a methodology. At its core is a framework that allows for efficient use of time, but more importantly this methodology/framework helps ensure that the goal of the project is actually achieved. Second, it must be understood that to be considered a project, there has to be a specific “start date” and “end date.” If the project has no official beginning or specific date to end, by definition it is a process. It is important to differentiate between the two. A project is undertaken to meet a specific goal or requirement, within a specified time frame. For example, if you are planning a wedding you would want to use a project management methodology. This is because if certain things aren’t pulled together by the wedding day, proverbial heads are going to roll. A process, however, could be thought of as a repeatable group of activities and tasks that will be done over and over again. Making coffee would be a good example of a process. Coordinating everything to pull off a successful wedding, however, is a project.

There are a few project management methodologies, but for our purposes we will look at the basis of good project management. Our goal is to apply the principles of solid project management, rather than try and memorize a particular methodology.

In my experience, it is often thought that projects need to be somewhat complex in nature in order to use project management. The beauty of project management though is that even if there is little complexity to deal with, these principles will still be of great value to the individual applying them. At its core, project management is as much about efficiency as it is about bringing to fruition something that does not currently exist. Let’s get started by defining a few things.

There are typically 5 phases to any project. Some phases may only have a couple of things that happen within them, but there are about 5 phases nonetheless. The phases are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. We’ll take them one at a time, and remember, it’s more about the methodology than anything else. Effective project management always seeks to break down the enormity of the project into manageable parts. These manageable parts are called phases.

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