The Four Elements of Project Management
As a project manager, it can be easy to lose sight of the core elements that make up any project. Each of these elements ties into the others, and together, they form the fabric that is your project. Understanding what these are and how they interrelate can help make you a more effective PM, regardless of your industry or niche.
A Look at the Prime 4
The prime four elements in your project (in any project, actually), include the following:
- Resources – It’s very easy to slip into thinking that your project’s resources are only comprised of tools and materials. However, that’s not true. Your resources include people, equipment, materials, software, hardware and more. Technically, anything that provides aid or must be used during your project can be deemed a resource.
- Time – Time is a fickle thing. It’s both concrete and ephemeral. And it has an immense impact on your project. Time impacts every area of your project, throughout its duration. You’ll need to keep a close eye on “time” in the form of task durations, milestone achievements, project progress, dependencies and much more.
- Money – If there’s one thing more important to your project than time or resources, it’s money. Money impacts every aspect of project completion, from paying your team members to the cost of materials and components, ensuring that you have those resources available to you in the first place and more. Money also implies profit, which may not be something relegated only to the end of the project.
- Scope – Scope is one of those things that can be difficult to determine. Scope can be anything, but there are several factors that go into making it up. These include project requirements, project goals and project size (size and scope are not necessarily mutually exclusive). While scope might be one of the most fluid of the four elements, its one with some serious impact and will affect every other element.
You and Your Team
When it comes to managing these four prime elements, you and your team are the most important considerations. While your stakeholders will have a definite impact (particularly in terms of scope and money), it will fall on your team to manage all of those things mentioned above. There are a few things you need to know to ensure that you can do this effectively.
First, communication with your team is essential. Each team member needs to understand the importance of immediate, accurate, ongoing communication, both with you and with other team members. Don’t forget, the success of one team member’s task usually depends on other members doing their job correctly and communication will help ensure that.
Finally, you have to ensure that you communicate with your stakeholders and higher-ups in the case of things like scope creep and budget changes. Any time money or scope increases, it needs to be approved and funded, or you’ll end up burning up your budget. Avoid those problems by communicating well at all times.