The way we work is changing. No matter what role or industry you’re in, you’ve probably noticed it too. According to the consultancy firm Bain & Company, by 2027 most work will be project-based. And as a result, the Project Management Institute reports that the demand for project managers has been growing more rapidly than the demand for skilled workers in other occupations. This emphasis on the importance of project managers reflects the growing understanding of the impact that good project management can have on a business. That’s because good project management is about more than just tasks and timings and budgets. Don’t get us wrong, that stuff is important too — but we believe that it can be so much more. Companies are starting to realize that good project management is important for stronger results and happier employees. These aren’t just coincidences or side effects — they’re functions of project management done right. So why is project management so important? Let’s break it down. The benefits of good project management The importance of project management in organizations can’t be overstated. When it’s done right, it helps every part of the business run more smoothly. It allows your team to focus on the work that matters, free from the distractions caused by tasks going off track or budgets spinning out of control. It empowers them to deliver results that actually impact the business’s bottom line. And it enables your employees to see how their work contributes to the company’s strategic goals. Here are just a few of the benefits of good project management: Save time and money With the right planning, you can ensure that your work is delivered on time and within budget. Using project management methods, you can map your project’s journey from the outset and know in advance where the deadlines — and projected spend — are going to fall, so you can more efficiently allocate your resources, helping you to avoid delays and project overspend. Improve internal communications Working together can be hard. With more efficient project management processes, you can reduce the complexity of collaboration, increase transparency, and ensure accountability, even when you’re working across teams or departments. Make better business decisions With clearer records of how your project is progressing, you get a deeper understanding of where your resources are being spent, what you need to prioritize and when, and if you’re at risk of going off track. Good project management means that you can forecast issues before they become issues, prevent bottlenecks, and make smarter, data-driven decisions. Iterate on your successes Project management helps you to scale high performance and build on your team’s best practices. By using the data and learnings from previous projects, you’re able to pinpoint where your team is excelling and where there’s room for improvement. And by measuring your KPIs you can create and track personalized benchmarks to understand how your team is performing project over project. Better project planning = better projects Those are the benefits at an organizational level, and just some of the ways that project management can help to improve your entire business. But what about your individual projects? Won’t it slow things down, add unnecessary bureaucracy, or keep you locked into a plan with no room for innovation? Don’t worry — project management would never do that to you. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. While it can be tempting to just dive into work and hope for the best, it’s a false economy. Without proper project management and planning, you’re more likely to end up wasting time in the long run. In fact, one survey found that 80% of people spend at least half their time on rework. That’s a huge amount of valuable hours lost — and it could be avoided with a little extra forethought. With a solid plan at the outset, you can: Get stakeholder alignment from the beginning, helping you to get buy-in, minimize bureaucratic pushback, and set the project’s scope. In fact, spending a little extra time getting this alignment at the start of your project can save you tons of heartbreak down the line, because it removes ambiguity and gives everyone a clear outline of what’s expected. Ensure everyone is on the same page and that they each know exactly what they have to do and when — so no more “but I thought someone else was handling it” mishaps. Flag the risks in advance, so you know the warning signs to watch out for. These will vary from project to project, but could include things like: one major deadline that will have a knock-on effect on the others if it’s missed; a budget overspend that means you have to take money from somewhere else. Once you know what you need to be on the alert for, you’re better able to catch when you’re going off track and course-correct in the moment, instead of when it’s too late. Make sure that each project has a strategic goal. Bye bye busywork. When you have a solid project management plan in place, you can ensure that each project contributes to your overall strategic goals. Expect the unexpected. Planning doesn’t mean there’s no room for change. The best planning has a little wiggle-room built in from the very beginning, so you can adapt and stay agile. (More on that later.) But these are just some examples of the importance of project planning. When it comes down to it, better project planning can revolutionize the work your team produces — and the results it gets. That means happier stakeholders, more fulfilled teams, and, if you’re working in a client-facing industry, more satisfied customers (and more glowing reviews). The importance of effective project managers As more and more of our everyday work becomes project-based, it follows that more and more people are finding themselves in the business of managing projects — even if they’re not traditional project managers. And with the importance of project management only growing, the project manager skillset has never been more crucial. Project managers are the unsung heroes. They’re the people who make sure all your planning actually goes, well, according to plan. They’re the ones who can steer things back on track when the unexpected happens. The people who can bring multiple teams, departments and stakeholders together to ensure your project’s success. Nowadays, there are lots of paths to becoming an effective project manager. People can go the traditional route with a project management qualification like PMP or PRINCE2, or they can opt to build their project manager resume by getting hands-on experience managing projects. Whether you have traditional project managers to fill the PM role or team members who step up for each project, one thing is clear: effective project managers make all the difference. Project managers often have a reputation as “the people who herd cats”. But they’re so much more than that (and if they’re into a little cat-herding on the side, that’s their own business). Project managers are the people who get buy-in for the project, who communicate the changes, who understand how to get the best work out of everyone, and who steer the project from beginning to end, even when it’s being pushed off track. They’re the ones who not only plan and organize the work itself, but who can explain the importance of planning for projects, so that everyone on the team knows why what they’re doing is important. The right person takes your project management strategy from good to great. They turn your project’s plan into action. And maybe most importantly, they bring everyone along on the journey — together. Why choose a career in project management? Now that you understand the importance of project management, as well as some project management functions, you might be wondering: is a career in project management for me? The growing importance of project management in organizations means that it’s a great choice for people who want to take a critical role in helping businesses to achieve their goals and see real returns on their strategy. As a project manager, you can make a real impact on helping organizations to hit their targets and create a working environment where teams can thrive. Why choose a career in project management? You should consider it if: You love managing projects. Um, yeah, this one is probably a no-brainer. But if you excel at working with multiple stakeholders across lots of different teams, can allocate deadlines and resources like they’re Tetris pieces, and have a real knack for seeing the big picture, it might be time to make it official. You want to make a real difference to the business. Project managers are on the frontlines of the business, helping to turn intangible things like goals and values into solid results that actually move the needle. Whether you’re in construction or software development, project managers have a great opportunity to make their mark on the business and improve how work gets done. You want to make a real difference to teams. It’s not just the bottom line that gets a boost. Project managers are always looking for new technology and processes that can help teams to work together more effectively, efficiently, and productively. And with 63% of workers in the US currently feeling ready to quit their jobs due to stress, creating a smoother, more efficient work environment is a big deal. How to define the value of project management Picture this. You’re at a fancy party, and, as per usual, the talk turns to project management. (You know, normal party conversation.) “Why is project management so important?” someone asks as you make small talk by the canapes. You’re prepared. You’ve read this article; you know your stuff. You list out some examples of the importance of project management in points, discuss the benefits, and mention the value it brings to organizations. “That all sounds cool,” they might reply, “but how do you prove it?” Record scratch. The thing about project management is that when it’s done right, it can often feel invisible. And sometimes, defining the value of project management in nuts-and-bolts numbers can be tricky: increased happiness, smoother workflows and improved efficiency are all great, but how do you reflect them in % and $? But before you lose your cool and flip over a table of vol-au-vents, here are just some of the ways you can define the value of project management and measure its importance for your organization. Use a project management tool. When your team tracks their work in a project management tool, you have all the data you need to see what’s working, where you can improve, and how your projects compare to your benchmarks. Get important stats like the percentage of projects delivered on time, the number of tasks that went overdue, or how much of your team’s capacity was spent on each project. Then use those stats to make data-driven decisions and constantly optimize how your projects get done. Calculate how much time and money project management is saving you. Project management software helps you to better calculate how much time and money each project is actually going to cost you; allows you to cut down the time lost to pointless meetings and communication mishaps; and keeps your employees more engaged and accountable, reducing churn and new hire acquisition costs. Start quantifying the unquantifiable. Employee happiness? Alignment with company values? They’re not exactly classic project management KPIs, but they’re equally important functions of project management. So…why not start measuring them like everything else? Use surveys and team feedback to create new benchmarks and track your progress. The importance of project management The importance of project management in construction, the importance of projects in development, the importance of project managers when you’re in a client-facing business… let’s just cut our losses and say that project management is pretty darn important, no matter what role or industry you’re in. Whether your business relies on traditional project managers (i.e. people with “Project Manager” on their LinkedIn profile or business cards) or skilled team members adopting the important project manager duties and responsibilities, good project management — and effective project managers — can be transformational. Looking for a TL;DR? Here’s a summary of why project management is important in points: 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 you to optimize your workflows for smoother processes and happier employees Chapter 2 What does a project manager do?