An Intro to Project Management

By Matthew Guay - Published May 27, 2016 -

You are reading: Chapter 1 of 8

It's a boring topic, project management, one filled with more cryptic vocabulary and acronyms than most. Wouldn't it be better to just do the work, instead of spending time coming up with new ways to micro-manage it?

Yet project management is essential, the stuff of champions. And it's something you already do, even if you're more likely to just jump in and do the work instead of writing down a plan first.

Perhaps simple tasks can just get done. But even for a blog post like this to be published, a process must be followed. One must at minimum write the text, add it to the blog CMS, and hit Publish. That post is suddenly a small project, with its own project management system.

Projects, you see, are just "proposed or planned undertakings." Project management systems, then, are ways to plan that undertaking. Do we start everything at once, or split tasks over time? What needs done before the next task can be started? Those questions and more are answered by your project management system.

Project management apps? They're just digital personification of those project management systems, a way to plan due dates and structure projects in some system. They're not all that different paper wall calendars you'd plot projects on in years gone by. The only difference is, as software, they can be "smart"—they can remind you of upcoming due dates, automatically reschedule future tasks when something's delayed, and make sure everyone on your team can see that calendar, no matter where they are in the world.

So, you've got it. You have an idea you want to pursue—that's your project. You decide the order in which to do the tasks, and who's responsible for what—that's your project management system. And you list all those tasks and due dates in a program—that's your project management app.

But it's not quite that simple. You'll likely need a bit more structure to your project, ways to manage your task workflows and deadlines, and make sure everything's done consistently well. That's where the most popular project management systems come in. They're built on decades of research from corporations and governments, and have been proven to work. And if they're not perfect for you, you could always tweak them into your own customized project management system.

A System for Managing Projects

That's what you'll learn first in this book: the best traditional project management systems, and how they work. Then, in chapter 3, you'll learn the essential skills of a project manager, tips that'll help you turn those project management systems into something that'll work for your team.

Apps for Managing Projects

Then it's time for apps to help put that project plan into action. Chapter 4 takes you on a tour of the Toyota factory-inspired Kanban boards, teaching you how to use them to make your own project workflow and giving you the best apps to create kanban board. If Kanban's not enough, the next chapter dives into the 50 best project management apps and their best features. There's even a free downloadable cheat sheet to compare the apps and find the best one for you.

Choosing the perfect app for your team from fifty great options is a bit overwhelming. That's why chapter 6 guides you through choosing project management software, and chapter 7 shows you the toolkits real companies use to manage their projects. With advice from real-world project managers—and tips on what's worked and what hasn't—you'll feel more confident in choosing tools for your team, or making your existing software work better for your needs.

Extras to Handle Everything Else

Your projects should now be squared away in a project management app now, happily humming their way to completion. But everything isn't done yet. You still need a way to make sure your tasks are completed consistently, that they're always done well, and that your quality never suffers no matter how much is going on.

That's what Chapter 8 is for. It teaches you the basics of standard operating procedures: how they work, why checklists and detailed instructions are so important, and how to use them in your work. You'll end up with yet another asset to help make your projects a success.

And in chapter 9, you'll get a bonus lesson on how to manage your personal tasks in a project management app. After all, you'll be more successful at work if you're not stressed out about the things that need finished at home. Using the same tools to manage all of your tasks—and giving a workflow to your personal tasks—may be the perfect way to do that.

It's a lot to take in, but altogether you should learn everything you need to get your projects out of your brain and into an organized workflow that's actually accomplishable.

It's time to get that rocket you've been dreaming of to the moon, and back again. So let's get to work.

Go to Chapter 2!

Written by Zapier Marketer Matthew Guay.


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