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Project Management

Project Management

Author: Sophia Tutorial

This lesson will introduce project management.

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What's Covered

This tutorial will explain the role of a project manager by focusing on:

  1. Project Management
  2. Operations
  3. Project Manager
  4. Program Management


Project management involves a variety of skills and we'll discuss these over the length of this course, including project planning, the management of resources, and how to lead a team.

The same methods that are used to manage the design of airplanes can also be used to remodel a house, plan a wedding, or learn a new language. All of these can be the results of a well-managed project.

Project Management

The process of planning, managing resources, and leading a team to achieve identified goals.

ExampleThe design of a software application is an example of a product deliverable.

So what is a project? A project has a defined start date and end date. Sometimes the end date is specified by factors external to the project, such as products that must be ready by a certain time of year. And sometimes it is defined during the project scheduling phase.

The result of a project can benefit an organization, such as a marketing plan for a new model of a car. Or individuals, such as a method to apply for a new car loan.

And finally, a project has a specific budget. Just as with a schedule, a budget might be determined before the project starts, or it might be the responsibility of the project manager and his team to establish the budget.

There are some instances where a project won't have a budget. The project cost might be limited by other means, such as limiting the number of people on the project, for example. Or it might have been determined that the results of the project are necessary no matter what the cost. Now that we've defined projects, we need to discuss how they differ from operations.

Big Idea

Remember, a project has a specific start , specific end date, and a defined budget.


Projects have start and end dates. Operations on the other hand, do not have specific start and end dates.

Try It
A smartphone was designed and now actual production is ready to begin. Production would continue until it was decided at an unknown time in the future to halt the production.

Question: What part of the process is the "project" and what part is the "operation"?

Answer: The design of the phone would likely be a "project" since it would end at the time of the launch. The "production" of the phones is an operation since there is no known end date.

Project work is unique for every project. Operation work is continuous and repeatable.

Example An example of a project would be to design a more efficient process to evaluate a new hire. An example of operations would be repeatable and continuous evaluation of new employees.

Since operations are ongoing, they often include temporary projects that assist with changes to the operation. But projects do not include operations, but projects might make use of the results of an operation.

Example A software application is developed by a project and will be shipped on CDs. The manufacturing operation should not be considered part of the project because that will be ongoing without an end date.


The person who oversees projects is the project manager. This is an individual who uses a range of knowledge, skills, and tools to lead a project to successful completion.

    • Project Manager
    • An individual who uses a range of knowledge, skills and tools to lead a project to successful completion.

Project managers have many responsibilities including:

  • Define deliverables to meet requirements
  • Oversight of the budget
  • Manage the individuals assigned to the project.
  • Communicate project status
  • Manage expectations


Have you come across people who manage the responsibilities listed above, but have held a different professional title?

In each industry, you'll find project managers with different titles, such as project leads, project coordinators, project owners, and of course, project managers. All different job titles, but often with identical responsibilities.

Example Individual who manages house construction = general contractor. Individuals who develop movies and video games = producer


Sometimes deliverables are too large or too complex for a single project. Or the staff and the details are too much for a single project manager. That's where program management comes in.

    • Program Management
    • The oversight and/or management of multiple related projects.

Program management provides oversight of multiple related projects.

Example A mission like the Mars Rover is a perfect example of program management. Many interrelated disciplines needed to coordinate their efforts all for one goal: placing a remote control robot on Mars.

Program management is not just a collection of projects, though. It is a grouping of projects that are solving the same problem or addressing the same opportunity

Example An insurance company is releasing a new product to members. In order for the product to be successful, the following projects may be needed:

  • Creating policy and procedures
  • Design and create the communication methods such as mailers and websites
  • Market or advertise the product upon completion

The oversight of all these projects is program management. And it is often handled by a program manager. The program manager guides the overall direction of all projects within a program through interactions with the project manager and directly with the teams. The program manager may also manage one or more projects within the program, effectively acting as a project manager too.

A program will always have projects within it, but projects do not need to be part of a program. Some organizations will manage all project managers as a single group instead, regardless of the goals and products produced by their projects.


This tutorial explained the difference between project management and operations by distinguishing end dates for projects and no end dates for operations. This tutorial answered the question, "what is a project?" to help demonstrate the characteristics of a project. Responsibilities of the project manager such as oversight of the budget was discussed, and contrasted project management with program management by explaining that program management may involve management of multiple projects.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Jeff Carroll.

Terms to Know
Program Management

The oversight and/or management of multiple related projects.

Project Management

The process of planning, managing resources, and leading a team to achieve identified goals.

Project Manager

An individual who uses a range of knowledge, skills and tools to lead a project to successful completion.