What Are Principles of Project Management (With Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 30, 2023

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The goal of a project manager is to lead a team to complete a project successfully. Project managers employ various leadership and management skills to ensure that their team meets all goals and project deadlines. If you're managing a project, it's beneficial to learn more about strategies for effective management. In this article, we answer the question, "What are principles of project management?", discuss ten principles, and provide some skills that are useful for project management.

What are the principles of project management?

When defining project management principles, it's important to know how they can be applied to different workplaces and industries. Principles of project management are guidelines you can follow to ensure that you successfully carry out a project in your workplace. These principles cover planning, communication, overcoming obstacles, and various other aspects of managing a project. They also cover all stages of project management, from setting the project up to analyzing the outcome once it's completed. Regardless of your project's scope, you can benefit from employing these project management principles.

Related: Essential Project Manager Technical Skills

Ten principles of project management

Here are ten project management principles that you can use to ensure that your project is a successful one:

1. Define the project structure

Before you begin a project, it's crucial that you define the project structure. By doing this, you can better understand what you can do to ensure that the project succeeds. Defining a project entails outlining its key elements, which include:

  • Budget: This is how much money you have available to use for the project. The project budget includes spending on all materials, resources, and hirings needed to complete the project.

  • Schedule: This is the timeline your team can manage to finish the project. Projects typically have a strict due date when the team manager expects the project to conclude.

  • Milestones: These are goals you can plan into your project schedule. Milestones are like checkpoints you can use to ensure that the project is progressing and going as planned.

Related: Create an Effective Work Plan for a Successful Project (With Template)

2. Establish specific project goals

Before starting a project, it is important to establish specific and measurable project goals. For example, instead of setting the goal of growing brand awareness by gaining followers on social media, you can create a plan to grow brand awareness by gaining 30,000 followers on a specific platform. Including this metric ensures you can easily track the success of your project.

Setting measurable goals can also help you determine project milestones. For example, you can plan to increase your followers by 10,000 by a specific date. Setting goals like these can reveal any delays or challenges, which allows you to regroup and plan accordingly.

Related: Why Project Management Is Important (And Tips for Success)

3. Implement the right tools

Another key project management principle is ensuring that your team has the proper tools before starting so they can meet the project goals. Some examples of tools may include communication software and project management software. Plan a meeting with your project team and discuss everyone's roles and what each individual requires to perform their role efficiently and do their best work.

Think about past projects that you completed successfully and consider which tools your team members found the most beneficial. When you implement the right tools before starting a project, your team can work efficiently from the beginning, which can help ensure that your project remains on schedule.

Related: Benefits of Critical Path Analysis (With Advantages)

4. Communicate roles and expectations

Another vital project management principle is communicating each team member's role and your expectations for them. It's crucial that each team member knows what is required of them in clear terms and before starting the project. For example, a software development company may assign the creation of a new web feature to one team member, who then delivers it by a specific date so that the next team member can integrate that feature into the client's website.

By effectively communicating your expectations to your team before starting the project, you ensure everyone knows which deliverables they're responsible for and how their work contributes to the final product.

Related: How to Become an Effective Communicator

5. Help your team members feel accountable

Accountability is ensuring that each person performs their assigned task. This principle is crucial in project management. It can help team members feel accountable and enable everyone to complete their work diligently and on time. A great way to improve accountability is through regular communication. As the project manager, you can check in with your team to assess their progress and see if they require assistance or resources. You can also encourage team members to communicate with one another, as this can prompt them to share resources and ideas, leading to more effective working methods.

6. Address questions early

At the start of your project, team members may have questions for you. It's a good idea to set aside time early to address as many questions as possible. Addressing questions before the project begins can help minimize mistakes due to uncertainty or misunderstanding. It can also help clarify the project's goals and steps so that everyone knows the overall project structure.

When taking questions from your team, you may also discover different approaches that can improve the project. For example, an employee may ask about sharing certain project documents among the team, which you may not have considered. You can then find a file-sharing app for the team to use when they begin their work.

7. Monitor progress

To ensure a project remains on schedule, project managers can regularly monitor progress. Project managers can do this by requesting updates from individual team members or conducting progress meetings in which each team member provides the group with an update. Project managers may also use project management software so that they can see the status of the project. If the project manager feels their team isn't working according to the assigned schedule, they can make adjustments to the project, such as adding additional resources or adjusting the timeline.

8. Adjust priorities

Throughout the course of a project, priorities may change because of factors like budget restrictions or additional client requests. It's essential for the project manager to adjust the project accordingly based on these shifting priorities. Project managers can remain flexible by communicating with senior management and clients proactively. If any changes occur, the project manager can integrate them into the existing project plan with some time to adjust their priorities.

9. Complete the project

Completing the project includes ensuring that your team develops each element of the project to completion. At this stage, project managers review their original list of goals and check that the team fulfilled all the required tasks. Completing the project may also include submitting the project to senior management and making any requested changes.

10. Analyze successes

After project completion, project managers may analyze the project development cycle. By analyzing the project's successes and any areas for improvement, project managers can learn valuable lessons to apply to future projects. It can be beneficial during this phase to meet with your team and receive feedback from them. You can ask your team members what they believe went well and any suggestions about how to improve future projects. The project manager can also provide team members with feedback about their performance that they can use on future projects.

Related: Project Charts for Effective Project Management (With 8 Types)

Valuable skills for project management

If you are a project manager or a team member working on a project, it can be beneficial to refine some of your project management skills, which include:

Communication skills

Some projects may require large teams of professionals from diverse backgrounds and with various personalities. Managing such a team requires strong communication skills. Project managers know how to deliver updates and share ideas with their team, provide explicit instructions, and motivate team members to overcome obstacles. They are directive and know how to communicate with a diverse team of different experiences and profiles.

Research skills

Having strong research skills can help you lead a successful project. By researching various aspects of your project, you can make informed decisions as the project progresses. Knowing where and how to find information is an invaluable tool in project management. Project managers frequently research by talking directly to customers or following competitors' activities.

Related: Essential Project Manager Technical Skills

Team management skills

As a project manager or member of a project, you typically work with a team towards a common goal. As a manager, your team may require guidance to ensure that you meet all project goals and deadlines. Having strong team management skills includes knowing your team members, their work habits, fully understanding the project scope, and navigating any obstacles that you may encounter.

Related: What Is Project Management? Definition, Steps, and Skills

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