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2. Project Management Overview

Adrienne Watt; Project Management Open Resources; and TAP-a-PM

Click play on the following audio player to listen along as you read this section.

The starting point in discussing how projects should be properly managed is to first understand what a project is and, just as importantly     , what it is not.

People have been undertaking projects since the earliest days of organized human activity. The hunting parties of our prehistoric ancestors were projects, for example; they were temporary undertakings directed at the goal of obtaining meat for the community. Large complex projects have also been with us for a long time. The pyramids and the Great Wall of China were in their day of roughly the same dimensions as the Apollo project to send men to the moon. We use the term “project” frequently in our daily conversations. A husband, for example may tell his wife, “My main project for this weekend is to straighten out the garage.” Going hunting, building pyramids, and fixing faucets all share certain features that make them projects.

Project Attributes

A project has distinctive attributes that distinguish it from ongoing work or business operations. Projects are temporary in nature. They are not an everyday business process and have definitive start dates and end dates. This characteristic is important because a large part of the project effort is dedicated to ensuring that the project is completed at the appointed time. To do this, schedules are created showing when tasks should begin and end. Projects can last minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years.

Projects exist to bring about a product or service that hasn’t existed before. In this sense, a project is unique. Unique means that this is new; this has never been done before. Maybe it’s been done in a very similar fashion before but never exactly in this way. For example, Ford Motor Company is in the business of designing and assembling cars. Each model that Ford designs and produces can be considered a project. The models differ from each other in their features and are marketed to people with various needs. An SUV serves a different purpose and clientele than a luxury car. The design and marketing of these two models are unique projects. However, the actual assembly of the cars is considered an operation (i.e., a repetitive process that is followed for most makes and models).

In contrast with projects, operations are ongoing and repetitive. They involve work that is continuous without an ending date and with the same processes repeated to produce the same results. The purpose of operations is to keep the organization functioning while the purpose of a project is to meet its goals and conclude. Therefore, operations are ongoing while projects are unique and temporary.

A project is completed when its goals and objectives are accomplished. It is these goals that drive the project, and all the planning and implementation efforts undertaken to achieve them. Sometimes projects end when it is determined that the goals and objectives cannot be accomplished or when the product or service of the project is no longer needed and the project is cancelled.

Definition of a Project

There are many written definitions of a project. All of them contain the key elements described above. For those looking for a formal definition of a project, the Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. The temporary nature of projects indicates a definite beginning and end. The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated because its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the need for the project no longer exists.

Project Characteristics

When considering whether or not you have a project on your hands, there are some things to keep in mind. First, is it a project or an ongoing operation? Second, if it is a project, who are the stakeholders? And third, what characteristics distinguish this endeavor as a project?

Projects have several characteristics:

  • Projects are unique.
  • Projects are temporary in nature and have a definite beginning and ending date.
  • Projects are completed when the project goals are achieved or it’s determined the project is no longer viable.

A successful project is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of the stakeholders.

Consider the following scenario: The vice-president (VP) of marketing approaches you with a fabulous idea. (Obviously it must be “fabulous” because he thought of it.) He wants to set up kiosks in local grocery stores as mini-offices. These offices will offer customers the ability to sign up for car and home insurance services as well as make their bill payments. He believes that the exposure in grocery stores will increase awareness of the company’s offerings. He told you that senior management has already cleared the project, and he’ll dedicate as many resources to this as he can. He wants the new kiosks in place in 12 selected stores in a major city by the end of the year. Finally, he has assigned you to head up this project.

Your first question should be, “Is it a project?” This may seem elementary, but confusing projects with ongoing operations happens often. Projects are temporary in nature, have definite start and end dates, result in the creation of a unique product or service, and are completed when their goals and objectives have been met and signed off by the stakeholders.

Using these criteria, let’s examine the assignment from the VP of marketing to determine if it is a project:

  • Is it unique? Yes, because the kiosks don’t exist in the local grocery stores. This is a new way of offering the company’s services to its customer base. While the service the company is offering isn’t new, the way it is presenting its services is.
  • Does the product have a limited timeframe? Yes, the start date of this project is today, and the end date is the end of next year. It is a temporary endeavor.
  • Is there a way to determine when the project is completed? Yes, the kiosks will be installed and the services will be offered from them. Once all the kiosks are installed and operating, the project will come to a close.
  • Is there a way to determine stakeholder satisfaction? Yes, the expectations of the stakeholders will be documented in the form of requirements during the planning processes. These requirements will be compared to the finished product to determine if it meets the expectations of the stakeholder.

If the answer is yes to all these questions, then we have a project.

The Process of Project Management

You’ve determined that you have a project. What now? The notes you scribbled down on the back of the napkin at lunch are a start, but not exactly good project management practice. Too often, organizations follow Nike’s advice when it comes to managing projects when they “just do it.” An assignment is made, and the project team members jump directly into the development of the product or service requested. In the end, the delivered product doesn’t meet the expectations of the customer. Unfortunately, many projects follow this poorly constructed path, and that is a primary contributor to a large percentage of projects not meeting their original objectives, as defined by performance, schedule, and budget.

In the United States, more than $250 billion is spent each year on information technology (IT) application development in approximately 175,000 projects. The Standish Group (a Boston-based leader in project and value performance research) released the summary version of their 2009 CHAOS Report that tracks project failure rates across a broad range of companies and industries (Figure 2.1).

A bar chart showing 32% of projects succeeding, 44% challenged, and 24% failed

Jim Johnson, chairman of the Standish Group, has stated that “this year’s results show a marked decrease in project success rates, with 32% of all projects succeeding which are delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions, 44% were challenged-which are late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions and 24% failed which are cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used.”

When are companies going to stop wasting billions of dollars on failed projects? The vast majority of this waste is completely avoidable: simply get the right business needs (requirements) understood early in the process and ensure that project management techniques are applied and followed, and the project activities are monitored.

Applying good project management discipline is the way to help reduce the risks. Having good project management skills does not completely eliminate problems, risks, or surprises. The value of good project management is that you have standard processes in place to deal with all contingencies.

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques applied to project activities in order to meet the project requirements. Project management is a process that includes planning, putting the project plan into action, and measuring progress and performance.

Managing a project includes identifying your project’s requirements and writing down what everyone needs from the project. What are the objectives for your project? When everyone understands the goal, it’s much easier to keep them all on the right path. Make sure you set goals that everyone agrees on to avoid team conflicts later on. Understanding and addressing the needs of everyone affected by the project means the end result of your project is far more likely to satisfy your stakeholders. Last but not least, as project manager, you will also be balancing the many competing project constraints.

On any project, you will have a number of project constraints that are competing for your attention. They are cost, scope, quality, risk, resources, and time.

  • Cost is the budget approved for the project including all necessary expenses needed to deliver the project. Within organizations, project managers have to balance between not running out of money and not underspending because many projects receive funds or grants that have contract clauses with a “use it or lose it” approach to project funds. Poorly executed budget plans can result in a last-minute rush to spend the allocated funds. For virtually all projects, cost is ultimately a limiting constraint; few projects can go over budget without eventually requiring a corrective action.
  • Scope is what the project is trying to achieve. It entails all the work involved in delivering the project outcomes and the processes used to produce them. It is the reason and the purpose of the project.
  • Quality is a combination of the standards and criteria to which the project’s products must be delivered for them to perform effectively. The product must perform to provide the functionality expected, solve the identified problem, and deliver the benefit and value expected. It must also meet other performance requirements, or service levels, such as availability, reliability, and maintainability, and have acceptable finish and polish. Quality on a project is controlled through quality assurance (QA), which is the process of evaluating overall project performance on a regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.
  • Risk is defined by potential external events that will have a negative impact on your project if they occur. Risk refers to the combination of the probability the event will occur and the impact on the project if the event occurs. If the combination of the probability of the occurrence and the impact on the project is too high, you should identify the potential event as a risk and put a proactive plan in place to manage the risk.
  • Resources are required to carry out the project tasks. They can be people, equipment, facilities, funding, or anything else capable of definition (usually other than labour) required for the completion of a project activity.
  • Time is defined as the time to complete the project. Time is often the most frequent project oversight in developing projects. This is reflected in missed deadlines and incomplete deliverables. Proper control of the schedule requires the careful identification of tasks to be performed and accurate estimations of their durations, the sequence in which they are going to be done, and how people and other resources are to be allocated. Any schedule should take into account vacations and holidays.

You may have heard of the term “triple constraint,” which traditionally consisted of only time, cost, and scope. These are the primary competing project constraints that you have to be most aware of. The triple constraint is illustrated in the form of a triangle to visualize the project work and see the relationship between the scope/quality, schedule/time, and cost/resource (Figure 2.2). In this triangle, each side represents one of the constraints (or related constraints) wherein any changes to any one side cause a change in the other sides. The best projects have a perfectly balanced triangle. Maintaining this balance is difficult because projects are prone to change. For example, if scope increases, cost and time may increase disproportionately. Alternatively, if the amount of money you have for your project decreases, you may be able to do as much, but your time may increase.


Your project may have additional constraints that you must face, and as the project manager, you have to balance the needs of these constraints against the needs of the stakeholders and your project goals. For instance, if your sponsor wants to add functionality to the original scope, you will very likely need more money to finish the project, or if they cut the budget, you will have to reduce the quality of your scope, and if you don’t get the appropriate resources to work on your project tasks, you will have to extend your schedule because the resources you have take much longer to finish the work.

You get the idea; the constraints are all dependent on each other. Think of all of these constraints as the classic carnival game of Whac-a-mole (Figure 2.3). Each time you try to push one mole back in the hole, another one pops out. The best advice is to rely on your project team to keep these moles in place.

whac a mole machine

Here is an example of a project that cut quality because the project costs were fixed. The P-36 oil platform (Figure 2.4) was the largest footing production platform in the world capable of processing 180,000 barrels of oil per day and 5.2 million cubic metres of gas per day. Located in the Roncador Field, Campos Basin, Brazil, the P-36 was operated by Petrobras.

Petrobras P-36 Sinking

In March 2001, the P-36 was producing around 84,000 barrels of oil and 1.3 million cubic metres of gas per day when it became destabilized by two explosions and subsequently sank in 3,900 feet of water with 1,650 short tons of crude oil remaining on board, killing 11 people. The sinking is attributed to a complete failure in quality assurance, and pressure for increased production led to corners being cut on safety procedures. It is listed as one of the most expensive accidents with a price tag of $515,000,000.

The following quotes are from a Petrobras executive, citing the benefits of cutting quality assurance and inspection costs on the project.

“Petrobras has established new global benchmarks for the generation of exceptional share­holder wealth through an aggressive and innovative program of cost cutting on its P36 production facility.” “Conventional constraints have been successfully challenged and replaced with new paradigms appropriate to the globalized corporate market place.” “Elimination of these unnecessary straitjackets has empowered the project’s suppliers and contractors to propose highly economical solutions, with the win-win bonus of enhanced profitability margins for themselves.” “The P36 platform shows the shape of things to come in the unregulated global market economy of the 21st century.”

The dynamic trade-offs between the project constraint values have been humorously and accurately described in Figure 2.5.

A sign. Image description available.

Project Management Expertise

In order for you, as the project manager, to manage the competing project constraints and the project as a whole, there are some areas of expertise you should bring to the project team (Figure 2.11). They are knowledge of the application area and the standards and regulations in your industry, understanding of the project environment, general management knowledge and skills, and interpersonal skills. It should be noted that industry expertise is not in a certain field but the expertise to run the project. So while knowledge of the type of industry is important, you will have a project team supporting you in this endeavor. For example, if you are managing a project that is building an oil platform, you would not be expected to have a detailed understanding of the engineering since your team will have mechanical and civil engineers who will provide the appropriate expertise; however, it would definitely help if you understood this type of work.

Let’s take a look at each of these areas in more detail.

Application knowledge

By standards, we mean guidelines or preferred approaches that are not necessarily mandatory. In contrast, when referring to regulations we mean mandatory rules that must be followed, such as government-imposed requirements through laws. It should go without saying that as a professional, you’re required to follow all applicable laws and rules that apply to your industry, organization, or project. Every industry has standards and regulations. Knowing which ones affect your project before you begin work will not only help the project to unfold smoothly, but will also allow for effective risk analysis.

Areas of expertise: application knowledge, standards & regulations; understanding the project environment; management knowledge & skills; & interpersonal skills

Some projects require specific skills in certain application areas. Application areas are made up of categories of projects that have common elements. They can be defined by industry group (pharmaceutical, financial, etc.), department (accounting, marketing, legal, etc.), technology (software development, engineering, etc), or management specialties (procurement, research and development, etc.). These application areas are usually concerned with disciplines, regulations, and the specific needs of the project, the customer, or the industry. For example, most government agencies have specific procurement rules that apply to their projects that wouldn’t be applicable in the construction industry. The pharmaceutical industry is interested in regulations set forth by government regulators, whereas the automotive industry has little or no concern for either of these types of regulations. You need to stay up-to-date regarding your industry so that you can apply your knowledge effectively. Today’s fast-paced advances can leave you behind fairly quickly if you don’t stay abreast of current trends.

Having some level of experience in the application area you’re working in will give you an advantage when it comes to project management. While you can call in experts who have the application area knowledge, it doesn’t hurt for you to understand the specific aspects of the application areas of your project.

Understanding the Project Environment

There are many factors that need to be understood within your project environment (Figure 2.7). At one level, you need to think in terms of the cultural and social environments (i.e., people, demographics, and education). The international and political environment is where you need to understand about different countries’ cultural influences. Then we move to the physical environment; here we think about time zones. Think about different countries and how differently your project will be executed whether it is just in your country or if it involves an international project team that is distributed throughout the world in five different countries.

Consider the cultural, social, international, political, and physical environments of a project

Of all the factors, the physical ones are the easiest to understand, and it is the cultural and international factors that are often misunderstood or ignored. How we deal with clients, customers, or project members from other countries can be critical to the success of the project. For example, the culture of the United States values accomplishments and individualism. Americans tend to be informal and call each other by first names, even if having just met. Europeans tend to be more formal, using surnames instead of first names in a business setting, even if they know each other well. In addition, their communication style is more formal than in the United States, and while they tend to value individualism, they also value history, hierarchy, and loyalty. The Japanese, on the other hand, tend to communicate indirectly and consider themselves part of a group, not as individuals. The Japanese value hard work and success, as most of us do.

How a product is received can be very dependent on the international cultural differences. For example, in the 1990s, when many large American and European telecommunications companies were cultivating new markets in Asia, their customer’s cultural differences often produced unexpected situations. Western companies planned their telephone systems to work the same way in Asia as they did in Europe and the United States. But the protocol of conversation was different. Call-waiting, a popular feature in the West, is considered impolite in some parts of Asia. This cultural blunder could have been avoided had the team captured the project environment requirements and involved the customer.

It is often the simplest things that can cause trouble since, unsurprisingly, in different countries, people do things differently. One of the most notorious examples of this is also one of the most simple: date formats. What day and month is 2/8/2009? Of course it depends where you come from; in North America it is February 8th while in Europe (and much of the rest of the world) it is 2nd August. Clearly, when schedules and deadlines are being defined it is important that everyone is clear on the format used.

The diversity of practices and cultures and its impact on products in general and on software in particular goes well beyond the date issue. You may be managing a project to create a new website for a company that sells products worldwide. There are language and presentation style issues to take into consideration; converting the site into different languages isn’t enough. It is obvious that you need to ensure the translation is correct; however, the presentation layer will have its own set of requirements for different cultures. The left side of a website may be the first focus of attention for a Canadian; the right side would be the initial focus for anyone from the Middle East, as both Arabic and Hebrew are written from right to left. Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. White, which is a sign of purity in North America (e.g., a bride’s wedding dress), and thus would be a favoured background colour in North America, signifies death in Japan (e.g., a burial shroud). Table 2.1 summarizes different meanings of common colours.

Project managers in multicultural projects must appreciate the culture dimensions and try to learn relevant customs, courtesies, and business protocols before taking responsibility for managing an international project. A project manager must take into consideration these various cultural influences and how they may affect the project’s completion, schedule, scope, and cost.

Management Knowledge and Skills

As the project manager, you have to rely on your project management knowledge and your general manage­ment skills. Here, we are thinking of items like your ability to plan the project, execute it properly, and of course control it and bring it to a successful conclusion, along with your ability to guide the project team to achieve project objectives and balance project constraints.

There is more to project management than just getting the work done. Inherent in the process of project management are the general management skills that allow the project manager to complete the project with some level of efficiency and control. In some respects, managing a project is similar to running a business: there are risk and rewards, finance and accounting activities, human resource issues, time management, stress management, and a purpose for the project to exist. General management skills are needed in every project.

Interpersonal Skills

Last but not least you also have to bring the ability into the project to manage personal relationships and deal with personnel issues as they arise. Here were talking about your interpersonal skills as shown in Figure 2.8.


Project managers spend 90% of their time communicating. Therefore they must be good communicators, promoting clear, unambiguous exchange of information. As a project manager, it is your job to keep a number of people well informed. It is essential that your project staff know what is expected of them: what they have to do, when they have to do it, and what budget and time constraints and quality specifications they are working toward. If project staff members do not know what their tasks are, or how to accomplish them, then the entire project will grind to a halt. If you do not know what the project staff is (or often is not) doing, then you will be unable to monitor project progress. Finally, if you are uncertain of what the customer expects of you, then the project will not even get off the ground. Project communication can thus be summed up as knowing “who needs what information and when” and making sure they have it.

Interpersonal skills include communication, influence, leadership, motivation, negotiation, and problem solving

All projects require sound communication plans, but not all projects will have the same types of commu­nication or the same methods for distributing the information. For example, will information be distributed via mail or email, is there a shared website, or are face-to-face meetings required? The communication management plan documents how the communication needs of the stakeholders will be met, including the types of information that will be communicated, who will communicate them, and who will receive them; the methods used to communicate; the timing and frequency of communication; the method for updating the plan as the project progresses, including the escalation process; and a glossary of common terms.

Project management is about getting things done. Every organization is different in its policies, modes of operations, and underlying culture. There are political alliances, differing motivations, conflicting interests, and power struggles. A project manager must understand all of the unspoken influences at work within an organization.

Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire individuals to work toward expected results. Leaders inspire vision and rally people around common goals. A good project manager can motivate and inspire the project team to see the vision and value of the project. The project manager as a leader can inspire the project team to find a solution to overcome perceived obstacles to get the work done.

Motivation helps people work more efficiently and produce better results. Motivation is a constant process that the project manager must guide to help the team move toward completion with passion and a profound reason to complete the work. Motivating the team is accomplished by using a variety of team-building techniques and exercises. Team building is simply getting a diverse group of people to work together in the most efficient and effective manner possible. This may involve management events as well as individual actions designed to improve team performance.

Recognition and rewards are an important part of team motivations. They are formal ways of recognizing and promoting desirable behaviour and are most effective when carried out by the management team and the project manager. Consider individual preferences and cultural differences when using rewards and recognition. Some people don’t like to be recognized in front of a group; others thrive on it.


Project managers must negotiate for the good of the project. In any project, the project manager, the project sponsor, and the project team will have to negotiate with stakeholders, vendors, and customers to reach a level of agreement acceptable to all parties involved in the negotiation process.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is the ability to understand the heart of a problem, look for a viable solution, and then make a decision to implement that solution. The starting point for problem solving is problem definition. Problem definition is the ability to understand the cause and effect of the problem; this centres on root-cause analysis. If a project manager treats only the symptoms of a problem rather than its cause, the symptoms will perpetuate and continue through the project life. Even worse, treating a symptom may result in a greater problem. For example, increasing the ampere rating of a fuse in your car because the old one keeps blowing does not solve the problem of an electrical short that could result in a fire. Root-cause analysis looks beyond the immediate symptoms to the cause of the symptoms, which then affords opportunities for solutions. Once the root of a problem has been identified, a decision must be made to effectively address the problem.

Solutions can be presented from vendors, the project team, the project manager, or various stakeholders. A viable solution focuses on more than just the problem; it looks at the cause and effect of the solution itself. In addition, a timely decision is needed or the window of opportunity may pass and then a new decision will be needed to address the problem. As in most cases, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

All of these interpersonal skills will be used in all areas of project management. Start practicing now because it’s guaranteed that you’ll need these skills on your next project.

Image Descriptions

Figure 2.5 image description: The sign says, “We can do good, quick, and cheap work. You can have any two but not all three. 1. Good, quick work won’t be cheap. 2. Good, cheap work won’t be quick. 3. Quick, cheap work won’t be good.” [Return to Figure 2.5]

Text Attributions

This chapter was adapted and remixed by Adrienne Watt from the following sources:

  • Text under “Project Attributes,” “Project Characteristics,” “Process of Project Management,” and “Project Management Expertise,” were adapted from “What is a Project?,” “Project Characteristics,” “What is Project Management,” and “Project Management Areas of Expertise” in Project Management for Skills for All Careers by Project Management Open Resources and TAP-a-PM. Licensed under a CC BY 3.0 licence .
  • Table 2.1 was adapted by Merrie Barron and Andrew R. Barron from P. Russo and S. Boor, How Fluent is Your Interface? Designing for International Users , Proceedings of the INTERACT ’93 and CHI ’93, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. (1993). The table is from “ Project Management Areas of Expertise ” in Project Management. Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence .

Media Attributions

  • Chaosreport2009 © Merrie Barron & Andrew R. Barron is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • Triple constraint triangle © John M. Kennedy T is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
  • Whac a mole © sakura is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • Petrobras sinking © Richard Collinson is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives) license
  • Good-quick-cheap © Barron & Barron Project Management for Scientists and Engineers. is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • Areas of expertise © Barron & Barron Project Management for Scientists and Engineers is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • Project environment © Barron & Barron Project Management for Scientists and Engineers, is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license
  • Interpersonal skills © Barron & Barron Project Management for Scientists and Engineers is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license

2. Project Management Overview by Adrienne Watt; Project Management Open Resources; and TAP-a-PM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Project Management

5 real project management examples for your team.

Content Partnership Specialist

October 4, 2022

Whether it’s a home or a business project, simple or complex by nature, the secret sauce to delivering successful projects is starting strong with the right strategy and execution plan .

You can do this (and do it well) with a go-getter mindset, proper project management approaches, and the right tools.

In this article, you’ll learn about the building blocks of project management, including the key success factors and phases, as well as how project management tools can keep them together. Then we’ll show you how it all works in practice with five real project management examples! 👌

The 4 Phases of the Project Management Life Cycle

Key factors for successful project management .

  • 1. Marketing Project
  • 2. SEO Project
  • 3. Customer Enablement Project
  • 4. Education Project
  • 5. Product Launch Project

Managing projects from start to finish can come with long and complex processes . So, to help make everyone’s job easier, the concept of the project life cycle was introduced. 

Project Life Cycle

The project life cycle, or project management process, consists of four phases: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. It’s a structured path your projects go through to help move them from conception to completion and ensure project objectives are delivered in each phase. Let’s take a look at what the project manager is responsible for in each phase:

1. The initiation phase

Get everyone onboard. The project manager defines the organization, client, or customer’s goal, identifies key stakeholders, the project team, and the scope of work of the project , and determines measurable objectives for the team.

2. The planning phase

Strategically prepare and map out the project. The project manager is responsible for creating a detailed project plan and outlining the project schedule that includes the major project milestones and describes what tasks or deliverables make up each milestone. This is important because the project plan provides a strategy and project checklist to help properly manage resources, budget, and timeline along the project life cycle.

3. The execution phase 

It’s go time. In this phase, the project manager’s main job is to oversee the team’s efforts and ensure everyone understands what’s expected of them, what tasks need to be done, and how and when to complete those tasks to ensure everything is done within the project schedule. 

4. The closing phase

Time to wrap up the project. The project manager must identify that their team has completed all of the requested outcomes, then present the final product to the stakeholders to sign off and officially close the project.

📌 Key takeaway:

By following the project life cycle, you’re ensuring that you are: 

  • Capturing the expectations of your customer
  • Setting your project up for success with a plan
  • Executing project tasks and addressing any issues or project risks that arise
  • Closing out your project to capture any lessons learned and improve the next projects

Critical factors for successful project management can vary from one project to another, but here are a few factors that should remain constant no matter the type of project or what industry you’re in:

✅ Set SMART goals 

✅ Understand the project scope and prevent scope creep

✅ Identify project risks and create a risk management plan

✅ Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

✅ Effective team communication

✅ Maintain a high level of project visibility

How project management software gives teams flexibility 

With so many factors that can impact project success, using project management software can help to keep everyone and everything on track and ahead of curveballs.

A good project management app can take so much of the burden of managing projects off your shoulders by providing teams with the tools they need to get a high-level overview of their work, streamline business processes, create efficient workflows, communicate more effectively, and make collaboration seamless and more enjoyable. 

ClickUp , for one, helps project managers and teams plan, manage, track projects, and collaborate with each other—all in one place. Its fully customizable platform gives teams the flexibility and the advanced tools they need to create the most efficient workflow that best suits their project needs and preferences. 

And because the platform is fully customizable, teams in ClickUp are fully equipped to handle any type of project and support any type of project management methodology , including the most common approaches such as Waterfall, Agile (Scrum and Kanban), Lean, Six Sigma, and more. 

Docs, Chat, and List view in ClickUp

Key ClickUp features for effective project management include :

  • Customizable views : View your projects your way; choose from 15+ views, including Gantt Chart, Timeline, and Workload view
  • Custom automation : Save time, keep your processes consistent, and streamline your workflow
  • Custom task statuses : Add and assign different stages to your tasks to improve project visibility 
  • Custom Fields : Add more context to your tasks and display important information 
  • Goals : Stay on track to hit your SMART goals with clear timelines, measurable targets, and automatic progress tracking 
  • Project milestones : Easily set milestones to help you stay on top of important deadlines and track your team’s progress against major checkpoints
  • Dependencies : Add “blocking” or “waiting on” dependencies between tasks to set a clear order of operations, so your team always knows what to work on first
  • Task checklist : Create a to-do list within each task to ensure all steps are completed before moving the task forward
  • Dashboards : Build a mission control center for each project, team member, and more to  ensure every project stakeholder has the information they need to control any project risk and keep the project delivery within its timeline
  • Global time tracking : Track time spent on tasks, set estimates, add notes, and view reports of your time from anywhere
  • Assigned comments : Create and assign action items directly within a comment 
  • Mobile app : Keep your projects accessible wherever you go with the ClickUp mobile app
  • Integration : Connect ClickUp to over 1,000 of your favorite work tools to streamline your workflow  

Now, let’s take a look at a few real-life project management examples and learn how other industry experts have successfully delivered projects using the right methodology and tools!

5 Project Management Examples and Tips for Successful Project Delivery

1. marketing project example: creating a cross-functional workflow.

Jakub Grajcar , a Marketing Manager at STX Next, leads a team of content and social media specialists, spearheads the Marketing department’s lead generation and brand recognition strategy and works with multiple departments to deliver projects. A typical day for the team includes executing upwards of five content deliverables, with Jakub often reviewing 10+ different projects at a time.

The problem?

Working with our Product Design department was a chaotic process. Our teams struggled with communication because we lacked project visbility—we often didn’t have clear information about whether tasks were still under review or needed more work.  We absolutely needed a system that would allow me and the Head of Product Design to get an overview of the entire process and come to grips with all the work in progress and upcoming tasks.

Jakub Grajcar

The goal? To help improve global collaboration across departments , and content marketing processes, speed up project completion and delivery, and keep the teams aligned on goals, project timelines, and so on by creating a cross-functional workflow and standardizing processes in ClickUp. Here’s how Jakub and his team carried out this initiative: 

Initiation phase

  • Identify the project: To create Marketing Sprints templates and team Dashboards 
  • Define the desired outcome: Manage multiple projects, streamline partner outreach, and speed up the content production process

Planning phase

  • Project management methodology: Agile  

Execution phase

Task checklist:

  • Create Folders for each department and set up Lists within each Folder
  • Within each List, create tasks and subtasks to breakdown the work even further 
  • Save tasks as a template that can be reused as many times as needed
  • Set up Custom Task Statuses to give each stage of the project a designated name 
  • Add Custom Fields to each List to display and keep key information easily accessible
  • Added custom automation to automatically trigger an action and push the project to the next step 
  • Save the Folder as a template to be reused for the next Sprint and to keep processes consistent 
  • Build a custom Dashboard with real-time reporting to display key data and improve task visibility

Closing phase

  • At the end of the project, Jakub and the teams within STX Next tested the new Marketing Sprints template and Dashboard to ensure the process was smooth for everyone involved in the project and all of the custom automation in ClickUp was set up properly.

📌 Use this Marketing Sprint Folder template to help with project planning, keep project activities visible and organized, and streamline your processes. Hit the ground running with pre-set Board and List views, task estimation capabilities, and customizable automation!

2. SEO project example: Scaling content production

Adele Payant , ClickUp’s SEO Specialist, is responsible for researching opportunities and creating content briefs for the writers to use as a guide when drafting articles for the blog page. And to write compelling content briefs, she has to perform keyword research, competitive analysis , and other important related tasks, and ensure the content brief is detailed and easy to follow for the writers.  The problem?

The biggest challenge in our SEO blog workflow was focusing on scaling our content production without impacting the quality of each blog.

Adele Payant

The goal? 

To create a clear and repeatable system to help our SEO team ramp up the volume of briefs without compromising the quality of the brief and reduce unnecessary back-and-forth communication.

Here’s how Adele executed this project:

Initiation phase 

  • Identify the project : Create a detailed and structured SEO content brief template
  • Define the desired outcome: Create a structured and consistent workflow for researching and creating content briefs, and speed up the approval process

Planning phase 

  • Connect with the writing team to capture feedback about the current process 
  • Start a new Doc and use the rich-editing tools to structure your page
  • Add headers to define the sections in your Doc clearly
  • Embed links to example articles and other key data from keyword research
  • Add nested pages to capture notes for the assigned writer to review before drafting the article
  • Save the Doc as a template 

Closing phase 

  • To ensure the content blog brief is up to par, the Sr. SEO Manager, Sr. SEO Specialist, and Sr. Content Managers reviewed the Doc and presented the template to the content writers to review for readability and to gather feedback. The project is officially closed after all stakeholders have approved it.

📌 Use this SEO Content Brief template to clearly state your goals and objectives, and share it with your writers to improve content delivery.

For more SEO project management tips, check out ClickUp’s Sr. SEO Manager’s article: Tips to Optimize Your Workflow . 

3. Customer enablement project: Launching a new program

Robin Wisner , ClickUp’s LMS Administrator, is responsible for delivering a new initiative to give ClickUp customers a fun and interactive way to learn how to use ClickUp and maximize the features within the platform.

The Customer Enablement team, of which Robin is a member, launched ClickUp University (CUU) in November 2021. The new program received an overwhelmingly positive response from ClickUp users and ultimately gave the team the green light to launch another option to help further enhance user experience.

To accomplish this, she led the initiative to launch CUU Certificates—a program intended to recognize the ClickUp users’ product knowledge and reward them for completing the course exams.

The biggest challenge for a project of this scale was managing across so many teams with competing priorities .

Robin Wisner

To delegate work effectively and launch the new certification program on time to provide a measurable process for customers to successfully onboard and enhance their experience as a ClickUp user.

Here’s how Robin and the project team members made it happen:

  • Identify the project : Launch and promote the new certification program 
  • Define the desired outcome: To collaborate with different teams to design and launch the new certification program.
  • Project management methodology: Waterfall
  • Outline objectives for each certification level and course in ClickUp Docs
  • Develop beta test group and SOP for testing in ClickUp Docs
  • Outline the diagram taxonomy and customer journey in ClickUp Whiteboards
  • Create ClickUp Tasks for content development and assign them to the designated team members 
  • Use the ClickUp Form to submit a design request for the certificates
  • Submit a request to create a new help center overview article
  • Collaborate with the Dev Ops team to code and manage website design
  • Run tests with the beta test group and collect feedback 
  • Create internal and external enablement materials
  • Submit a request for marketing promotional materials 
  • To finalize and close this project, the project stakeholders reviewed the creative designs and tested the website’s performance and user experience. The approval was given once project requirements are met. 

📌 Use this Feedback Form template to customize your feedback collection, view all your feedback in one place, and improve your products and services.

Bonus: Project Management Software for Freelancers

4. Education project example: Building company-wide data reporting dashboards

Morey Graham , the Director of Alumni and Donor Services (ADS) at Wake Forest University, leads and manages fundraising campaigns , alumni relationships, brand identity, and publications within the Wake Forest community. 

Because teams worked on separate platforms, it created work silos that led to duplicated efforts and poor team communication. We also lacked visibility into our data which impacted our ability to make strong business decisions for the organization.

Morey Graham

To find a new project management tool that is user-friendly for all the departments and to create a business dashboard that displays and updates data in real-time to help improve project visibility across the organization.

Here’s how Morey and the ADS department delivered this project:

  • Identify the project : Create an accurate and reliable project dashboard for leadership and team members
  • Define the desired outcome: Improve data reporting and task visibility across departments, and align team goals

Task checklist

  • Consolidate work tools and integrate apps together to streamline the data reporting process
  • Set an all-hands meeting with the department to collect feedback about the current process and document meetings notes in a Doc or Notepad
  • Create a Space for each department to organize work by departments
  • Within each Space, create a Folder for each project
  • Within each Folder, create a List for each team member 
  • Create Custom Statuses for every stage of the project
  • Set up and add tags to tasks to categorize and link related tasks together 
  • Establish goals and document targets for each in ClickUp Goals  
  • Define your Dashboard audience and data story
  • Choose the right KPIs to support the data story
  • Select the widget that matches your reporting requirements
  • Present the project to the department head and key stakeholders for review and approval to close the project. 

📌 Create custom Dashboards in ClickUp to get a high-level overview of all your initiatives, highlight KPIs, project status, and progress, to keep everyone on track and aligned at all times.

5. Product launch project example: Launching a new product feature

To further expand ClickUp’s list of features for project management, the company set out a huge initiative to build and successfully launch a new product feature, ClickUp Whiteboards . Spearheading the project is ClickUp’s Group Product Manager, Zach Blodgett . The company’s vision was to create a powerful yet easy-to-use digital collaboration tool that project managers, executives, and team members could use to level up their brainstorming, planning, and execution processes.

The problem? 

The biggest challenge was team size and a rapidly approaching deadline. The deadline was immovable and we had a ton of stakeholders from GTM, sales, pricing & packaging, growth, support, CSMs, EPD. We had to ensure they knew what was going out, what was next, and how to talk about Whiteboards.

Zach Blodgett

To use a project management tool to help manage tasks, communicate with stakeholders across the globe, and minimize risks and bottlenecks to deliver the new and highly-anticipated product feature within the agreed-upon timeline.

Here’s how Zach and the company launched a successful project launch:

  • Identify the project : New feature rollout 
  • Define the desired outcome: To successfully deliver a responsive and functional new feature and create GTM campaigns for launch day
  • Project management methodology: Lean
  • Delegate tasks to the respective team members within the Product and Engineering team
  • Use the ClickUp-Github integration to preview branches populated in the tasks
  • Create Clip videos to report bugs in development and to easily relay complex issues to other teams
  • Connect with the Creative team to shoot promotional videos and ads
  • Connect with the entire company to run beta testing and collect feedback
  • Run tests with the Security team
  • Collaborate with Sales to determine the pricing model
  • Work with the Product Marketing GTM team to create a marketing campaign plan for the launch
  • Set important milestones and schedule for beta release

Closing Phase 

  • The CEO, Sr. VP of Engineering, and other key project stakeholders reviewed the product feature, and approved the final product before launch day.

Here’s the final look—check it out!

📌 Create a step-by-step approach to how your organization will bring a product to the market, and use this Go to Market Strategy template to help you ship faster!

Handle Any Project With Confidence By Using ClickUp

Successful project management starts with understanding what the ultimate goal of the project is, understanding the key elements that go into an intelligent project plan, and creating a smooth and actionable strategy to get there—refer to the project management examples above to help spark ideas.

You’ll also need to ensure to implement the appropriate methodology to guide you through the entire process and utilize the project lifecycle to keep you on track. 

And to make your life as a project manager as easy as humanly possible, you need to use a project management tool like ClickUp to help keep everything in order and bring all your work to one centralized place. Use it to track project progress, manage project risks and resources effectively, collaborate with your entire organization, and so much more. 

With its extensive list of customizable and functional features, you’ll be fully equipped to handle any type of project management approach, manage multiple complex projects at once, set up the most streamlined workflow, support your remote and hybrid teams, and confidently deliver quality projects on time, every time. 

(cue “That was easy” sound effect 😉)

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Project Management Assignment

by Muhammad Mansur

Develop a project that will introduce Rotomotion to a more ‘electronic’ way of doing business. It will be required to consider carefully what IT solutions could be used to help make Rotomotion’s systems more integrated


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