When you think about project management, what exactly comes to mind? Well, logically, you'll be thinking about a project with a purpose that is to be fulfilled at a specific deadline.
There are a ton of details in managing a project, but first, we need to clarify what is and isn't considered a project in itself.
In this article, we're going to identify what project management is not by figuring out what constitutes a project, so let's dive in.
Feel free to jump ahead to any section:
What is a project?
A project is a set of objectives targeted to achieve a specific goal, an end product, or a service. It should have a start and an end date and be divided into a series of tasks performed by a team with experience in a related field.
A project should also be performed within a set budget, which the project manager must keep in mind when allocating resources for the team to deliver the end result.
Here are a few points to help you identify what a true project is.
1. A project is a collaborative endeavor.
A true project cannot be performed by a single person or the project manager. There has to be a collaboration not just between team members working on the project but also with members from different teams.
On a corporate level, projects include different stages and details that can never be performed individually, which is why collaboration is a key indicator in defining a project.
2. A project must have a specific purpose.
A project cannot be completed without having a defined purpose, from which SMART goals are set and categorized into achievable tasks.
You cannot call an individual effort with unclear objectives a project; there must be a purpose to which all your efforts are pointing.
3. A project has an end date.
An ongoing activity without an end date is not considered a project. There are repetitive functions that every project manager would do every day or week, which are not considered a project.
In other words, you can have ongoing functions but not ongoing, never-ending projects. Some projects may be paused due to a lack of resources, budget cuts, or a disagreement with a client. But to call it a project, it has to have specific start and end dates.
4. A project should move your business forward.
There's no point in exerting a lot of time, effort, and money into a venture without reaping benefits or profits in return. A true project should lead your business in the right direction.
You may be surprised to know that many companies may take on unnecessary projects just to spend some extra money from the annual budget, without adding any real value to the business.
While these useless ventures may technically be called projects, it's best to focus your efforts on a worthy project that would elevate your business.
What is NOT a project?
What is not considered a project is conducting daily activities or operations that don't have a specific end date or result.
These operations may include system maintenance, ongoing sales, and regular meetings with consultants, to name a few.
The key point here is that routine, repetitive functions that a project manager performs regularly do not constitute a project.
Now that we outlined these simple features that identify a project, let's discuss what project management is not.
What project management is not
Project management is the process of overseeing a project from its conception stages until completion and delivery to the client.
The process is extensive and involves numerous details handled by the project manager and divided into manageable tasks performed by a team.
Here, we're concerned with the aspects that don't count as project management, which can be summarized into the following points.
1. It's not only about following a plan and applying PM techniques.
You can plan carefully for a project and set what you thought is a reasonable deadline for each task until the whole project is perfectly executed.
No matter how many techniques you've learned and applied when managing projects, there will always be plenty of surprises and unexpected turns of events.
From technical issues and business risks to unmotivated team members and never-ending alterations in client's requirements, your go-to techniques won't do you any good if you didn't have the flexibility and adaptability to change your initial plan as needed.
You should also remember that there's no one-size-fits-all in project management; you can't apply the same approach for multiple projects, even if they were all for the same client.
Keep in mind what works for the project and the environment in which your team has to work in, considering budget and resource limitations.
2. It's not about using the same process.
Building on the previous point, you can't apply the same process in every project. Some projects are smaller than others and won't require as many steps.
Other projects have a larger scale, so there must be an adjustment in the process of assigning tasks, distributing resources, identifying risks, and other key aspects.
Burdening your team with an unsuitable work process will not only waste time, effort, and money but also disrupt and demotivate your team, which will delay the project's delivery date.
3. It's not about always being in control.
This may seem odd for a project manager, but being a control freak can do more harm than good, and not just for the team.
The project manager will experience burnout if they had to plan and control everything in a project without delegating with their team.
On the other hand, the team may feel stressed and unheard if their opinions are not taken into consideration because they have to follow the PM's rigid plan.
We can't stress flexibility and adaptability enough as essential characteristics of a project manager, because no matter how much in control you think you are, there's always going to be something you didn't expect.
➕Bonus. Since a project manager is a leader, you should explore different leadership styles in this article to find out which one best suits your team.
4. It's not just about tracking the schedule.
While a huge part of project management is setting an appropriate schedule, many other aspects must occur side by side with tracking it.
You'll need to communicate with your team regularly to check in with what they need and whether they're facing any challenges.
You also need to foresee possible risks, deal with stakeholders/clients, and update the top management on the project's progress.
A big part of a project manager's job is to conduct daily, weekly, and monthly project management meetings whether with the team, clients, stakeholders, or top management.
That's why it's important to have an all-in-one meeting management platform to help you stay on top of your meeting's needs and organize what constitutes at least one-third of a project manager's day.
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The bottom line
Identifying what's considered a project is essential for a project manager. By now, you know the difference between regular operations and true projects.
When you recognize what project management is not, you'll be able to focus your efforts on the worthy projects that will push your organization in the right direction.
Remember how managing your meetings is a pillar of project management, which is why we recommend using adam.ai, the only all-in-one meeting management platform, that integrates with your existing workflow to help you run business, close projects, and get things done.
Here are a few other reasons to choose adam.ai:
adam.ai has been included in the Forrester Report in the AI-enabled meeting technology landscape.
adam.ai is trusted and used by powerful teams worldwide from Johns Hopkins University, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Microsoft, and other renowned organizations.
And most importantly, adam.ai integrates with your existing workflow, provides a free plan for life for small teams, and is the most affordable tool for larger teams.