Understanding Project Management

A simple breakdown
31 Jan 2019

Project Management – what is it in simple terms?


Let’s start with a simple breakdown…

The act of Project Management refers to how we apply a set of processes and structures to an activity that’s not central to business operations, or in other words, a project.

This set of processes helps us to ensure we can achieve what we set out to achieve.

If we manage a project well, it will mean success for whoever is responsible.

For example, the company goes public, the team delivers their annual report, the bride gets her wedding, the Olympics…happen!

If we don’t manage the project properly… well…use your imagination!

Unfortunately, more often than not, projects (at work) aren’t managed well and therefore aren’t successful.

In fact, according to the Project Management Institute:

  • 14% are considered as outright failures
  • 31% don’t achieve set goals
  • 49% don’t stick to scope
  • 43% can’t finish on budget
  • 49% don’t finish on time

And this is mainly because we’re expected to manage projects without being given the tools and formal training to drive them to success.

Like any skill, project management is learned not assumed!

Luckily though, the rise of Project Management education as well as workplaces acknowledging it as a skills-shortage, means that these stats are starting to improve.  

The rise of Project Management (PM)

PM is becoming so important in our rapid global market because of the rate of digitisation and disruption.

These changes are contributing to the rise of the ‘gig-economy’ which means temporary, short-term contract work.

By the way – by 2022, it is estimated that 15.7 million new project manager roles will be created globally. 

In 2019, we’re doing ‘things’ (at-work AND at-home) quicker, all-at-once, on larger scales and in shorter time frames.

Therefore, we need to be able to use structure to minimize the chaos and chances of these ‘things’ not achieving what they need to achieve.

Now, these ‘things’ we refer to are projects. And to better understand project management, let’s establish, what is a project?

What is a project?

A project is an activity. It’s temporary (it has a start and end date) and it’s NOT business as usual operations.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a project at “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”

Some examples of at-work projects include launching a product, running an event, implementing a new policy, etc.

Typically, projects take place to affect a change.

Furthermore, some additional defining characteristics of projects include:

  • That they (should) have one or more goals
  • They will usually have a set amount of resources
  • Projects will have stakeholders or people that the project will impact
  • They will often carry associated risk. (For example this major project fails, the Olympics won’t happen. Ouch!)

For more information about projects and project management, the UK’s Association for Project Management provide a useful clip which you can watch below.

Projects are becoming more and more important at work, to everyone

From here on, every organisation in every corner of pretty much every industry will have a need for project managers. According to the PMI’s Gob Growth and Talent Gap Report, by 2027, the project management-oriented labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33%. 

Because of this demand, as project managers, we will need to understand what type of project management approach (tools, techniques, methodologies) is best suited to our projects.

This applies to gigs in ‘hard’ project industries such as infrastructure, construction and engineering. 

It also applies to ‘soft’ projects such as organisational change, policy implementations, community, and education.

Regardless of industry, our employers will increasingly require us to use a structured approach to ensure that our projects achieve what they set out to do.

In other words, ad hoc project management just won’t cut it anymore.


Above all, projects aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. 

Project management is on the rise and there is a huge need to fill the talent gap caused by more project management jobs yet a lack of trained employees.

So we say, get on top of learning.

Empower yourself with the knowledge and skills you need to thrive in the gig-economy, at work and in life.

Now unfortunately, we can’t teach you project management in a single blog post.

Besides, there are 10 different knowledge areas of project management, and maybe at this stage, you only need really understand one or two of these areas.

However, if you’d like a cheat resource, download our FREE project plan template to step you through a current project.

Or if you’re based in Sydney or Melbourne and would like to gain project management certification, you can check out our course dates here.