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5 steps for successful project management 

Project management organizes activities that fall outside of your day-to-day operations 

3-minute read

Planning to renovate a building, launch a product or hold an event? Then, you’ll likely need to adopt some form of project management. 

Project management is a key work tool that allows your company to plan, manage and execute a major task outside its normal business activities.  

Whether managing inventory or implementing an enterprise resource planning system, businesses use project management to achieve various goals. Unlike operational management, which focuses on the day-to-day activities required to keep a business running smoothly, project management provides a framework for achieving strategic objectives.  

By breaking down complex projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, project management can help your business remain focused on its goals and avoid getting bogged down in the details of day-to-day operations.  

What is project management? 

Project management is the planning, managing and executing of strategic projects. It helps businesses manage change, enhance efficiency and increase profitability.  

Project management generally brings together cross-functional teams to ensure the project finishes on time, within budget, and meets customer needs.  

“If the business wants to deliver a new service or product, the project manager sits down with the right people and begins to plan,” says Jean-Pierre Parra, Director of the Agile Project Management Office at BDC. 

Parra compares the project manager’s oversight to that of a wedding planner. “They’re communicating with caterers and planning for the mid-price hot meal, but they are not doing the cooking.” 

While he says project managers generally understand the business, it’s the project and its various deadlines that require their focus.  

Project management scope 

“Project management is often a once-in-a-lifetime event for a business. It’s for something specific with a clear objective,” Parra says.  

Looking at the scope of projects that can be managed, he offers examples like a second factory that needs to be built without interrupting your existing factory’s operations or a new law affecting your business model and requiring a significant rethink of how you run your company.  

Deliverables in project management 

Below are some common examples of business projects that would require project management: 

Product development  

Developing new products or improving existing ones.  


Developing and implementing marketing strategies to promote a product or service.  

Process improvement  

Identifying areas of inefficiency within a company’s processes and developing solutions to improve them.  


Building or upgrading a company’s infrastructure, such as its IT systems. 

What does a project manager do? 

Project managers ensure projects are completed on time, within budget and to stakeholders’ satisfaction. They oversee the entire project life cycle, from initiation to completion. They also help identify and mitigate risks, manage resources effectively and ensure stakeholders are well informed and involved throughout the project. 

Their tasks include:  

  • creating plans 
  • building teams 
  • assigning and tracking work 
  • setting budgets 
  • creating schedules  
  • laying out workflows 

Why is project management important? 

Project management provides a framework for achieving strategic objectives. By breaking down complex projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, project management can focus on a specific goal. Others in the company can concentrate on day-to-day operations. 

How can project management help a business?  

Parra says project management can help businesses become innovative and stay relevant. “If you’re an entrepreneur, project management is your tool for building new products.”  

Project management helps your company in several ways: 

  • saves time and money  
  • improves internal communications  
  • empowers you to make data-driven business decisions  
  • enables you to scale (and repeat) your successes 
  • fosters greater alignment across teams, stakeholders and clients  
  • facilitates better risk management  
  • helps optimize workflows for smoother processes and happier employees  

What is project risk management? 

Before undertaking large projects, a critical phase involves studying the potential risks of your proposed project. That might include setting up a pilot project for an upcoming program or building a new product prototype.  

Going through the project risk assessment phase means you will lose less time and money if those smaller projects fail.  

“You don’t want to be at the end of the project—in the execution phase—and find out that the project will cost double. If you decide to stop the project at that moment, you will lose all the money invested,” Parra says. 

5 steps for successful project management 

You can identify the key steps in managing a project and avoid its pitfalls by following the steps below. 

1. Design 

Every project must start with identifying objectives. Consideration must also be given to the constraints that might jeopardize the project, including those related to the market, technology, human resources, budget and timeline. 

2. Planning 

After determining the project’s feasibility and that it will benefit the business, you can move on to planning the activities and laying out a timeline. This step involves listing activities in chronological order. Ask yourself who can do that and whether the company has all the in-house skills it will need.  

3. Execution 

Sticking to the timeline and producing deliverables takes a stringent approach and discipline. Depending on the project’s complexity, weekly or quarterly meetings will help you take stock of your progress and avoid delays. 

4. Completion 

Companies often lose momentum at the 90% mark of a project. People feel like everything is finished and have forgotten those last-minute details that always take longer than expected. 

5. Post-mortem 

Gather the project team to look at what went well and what didn’t so you can avoid future errors. 

How to overcome common project management obstacles 

  • Do detailed feasibility studies to estimate costs. Rather than using the lowest estimate, it’s better to use the highest to know if the project is still profitable even under a worst-case scenario. 
  • Divide big projects into small steps to help you navigate a complex landscape. It’s an excellent way to motivate your employees since they’ll see the progress. 
  • Have contingency plans in place early in the process. It will help you manage unforeseen developments. 
  • Value a team approach and seek help with complex projects that exceed your management skills. BDC advisors are there to help you. 
  • Free up employees involved in the project from some of their usual tasks. Put pressure on the process, not on the people. 
  • Each project represents a change. Always keep your employees posted on the project’s progress, expected benefits and potential problems. 
  • Don’t rush into things. The more time you spend developing and planning the project, the more likely you are to find success. 

What is the difference between program management and project management? 

Program management and project management are two different activities.  

Program management offers an overriding framework for a series of projects. Those individual projects make up the program’s components, with the program manager overseeing the work of the different project managers.  aefew rgre g

Next step 

Uncover and eliminate inefficiencies in your business with the free BDC guide, Optimize Your Business Processes

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