Learn how to manage your projects

By Francisco Sáez • April 30, 2012

While project management is a discipline somewhat alien to most people, the truth is that the knowledge, skills, techniques and tools to effectively manage project activities, are increasingly needed in our society. Although this discipline was born as a necessity in the corporate world, we all have some personal projects we want to run the best possible way.

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique result, and this is something that is very present in the activity of all individuals in the modern world. Workers today are no longer doing series of more or less repetitive tasks day after day. On the contrary, they face every day a continuous string of new challenges.

Creating a website is a project. However, the tasks you need to do in order to maintain the website is not a project. In any project there are a number of requirements to be fulfilled (the features the website must have). That is the scope of the project. All projects have also a cost to be controlled. Although it is a personal project, you want the number of hours spent is acceptable. And, especially in professional projects, there is usually a time limit. The fourth element to be included in the balance is quality, not just in the end result, also in the intermediate processes. Managing a project effectively means, therefore, keeping a good balance between the constraints of scope, cost, time and quality.

quadrant of balance

If our life is guided mainly by projects, we had better know how to deal with them. The aim of project management is, put simply, that everything goes well—that is, the project finishes on time, under the budget, and meeting the expectations—. To do that, you have to identify properly the requirements and establish clear and achievable goals.

Without a good approach, all the work done may end up in the trash, because it would not meet the needs of those who requested it, the budget has been exceeded or it is been done too late. While applying certain techniques will require additional time, it is time well spent if the project can be considered as a success by all the stakeholders.

Although project management is a world in itself, full of new terminology and acronyms, the underlying ideas are simple to understand and apply and, indeed, probably you may have used them from time to time. Project management is not an alternative to GTD, it is a complementary tool that may be helpful to manage more effectively and harmoniously large and complex projects.

In future articles we will discuss how these techniques and tools can help you get better organized and be more productive.

About the author

Francisco Sáez (@franciscojsaez) is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails who is passionate about personal productivity and GTD as a means to a better life.


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