What is project management and what are the different methods?

01 Sep 2021


A project is nothing without good organisation. Therefore, managers use several methods to manage projects within budget, resources and timeframes with their team. To do this, they follow various project management methods. What is project management? What methods should be used to set up projects and deploy them? What steps should be followed to manage a project well? How can you manage your projects well if you are a project manager or director? How to train? We explain everything in detail.

What is project management?

Project management consists of organising a project from start to finish, from its conception phase to its final phase. This involves defining the objectives, the human and material resources required, the budget, the deadlines and any constraints.

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What are the main steps in project management?

Managing projects cannot be improvised. As each project is completely different from the next, there is no miracle method for a successful project. It is important to select the most appropriate method for each project. However, there are some key steps that are generally common to all project management techniques:

  • Design: the objectives to be achieved are determined, taking into account the constraints that could hinder the project (human resources, deadline, tools, budget, technology, etc.).
  • Planning: is the project feasible? It is time to plan the project and determine its timetable (which stages must be reached and when?). The project is fleshed out at this stage: each stage is described, the roles of each person are determined. Human resources are called in if the necessary skills are not available within the company (search for new employees, speakers, freelancers, etc.).
  • Execution: once the roles and means have been defined, the action plan set beforehand is executed.
  • Control: the manager works closely with his or her team to ensure that the planned schedule is respected. This can be done, for example, by organising weekly meetings to take stock.
  • Closure: the final details are worked out and the project is completed.
  • Review: the teams meet to evaluate the success of the project. What worked? What difficulties were encountered? What could be improved in the future?


Which method should be adopted for project management?

Here are the different methodologies used by managers and professionals who need to manage a project. Note that each project manager manages the project for which he/she is responsible according to his/her skills, needs and preferred methods:

  • The traditional method: the so-called cascade method. Each stage is followed in chronological order. You don't move on to the next stage of the project until the previous one has been completed. Everything is planned in advance, the schedule and everyone's roles are meticulously defined. There is no room for the unexpected. This type of method cannot take into account the changing needs of a client or a context and does not tolerate any unforeseen events.
  • The Agile method: the client's needs are placed at the heart of the projects. This flexible method consists of dividing a project into several small projects, so that the client can validate each stage as it progresses. The Agile method is a perfect way to ensure customer satisfaction and a minimum of feedback at the end of the project.
  • The PERT method: the PERT method consists of listing the tasks necessary for the success of a project and linking them together (chronology and dependence of the tasks between them). Mind mapping is often used for this. Each task is given a start date and an end date so that the end date of the project can be determined accurately.
  • Lean management: all waste must be eliminated to achieve the best possible performance and customer satisfaction. This means delivering high quality work while limiting time, costs and resources. This method makes it possible to achieve good results with tight deadlines, a small team or a small budget.
  • The Scrum approach: as with the Agile method, the client is actively involved in the project. The team meets every day in a daily scrum (or synchronization meeting) to monitor the progress of the project. This method is based on several fundamental elements, namely defined roles, artefacts, events and rules.

There are many other project management methods, such as the PRINCE2 method or the critical path method. Note that the use of management tools is also crucial to the success of a project. Each project or method may require the use of different tools (management software, dashboards, project tracking tools, diagrams, software for managing project schedules and stakeholders, deliverables schedules and other project management software, etc.).

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How to train in project management?

Project management is a learned skill: you cannot run projects or manage a project portfolio from one day to the next. Defining a project, following a project plan and monitoring its progress requires specific skills. It is possible to train in project management by completing a Master's degree or an MBA (Master of Business Administration), a five-year degree prepared at a business school. Adults who do not wish to go back to long studies can also take a short adult education course as part of a continuing education process. The IPAG Business School's project management course can be taken over a two-day period and gives access to a training certificate. It is an ideal course to develop your skills quickly by learning about project management and project leadership.