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Project Management System in 2024: Top 10 Core Components

Software Project Management   -  

May 19, 2024

Table of Contents

As a project manager, you may need a structured framework that includes tools, processes, methodologies, and even principles to implement projects effectively. This overall framework is often known as a “project management system.” 

But what exactly is this system, and what elements form it? Let’s discover the top 10 core components and how to use this system for project management success from Designveloper’s experience. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Project Management Systems (PMSs)

First, we’ll find out the fundamentals of a project management system, from its definition to its benefits.

What is a Project Management System?

What is a project management system?

A project management system is a systematic model for you to oversee how to implement projects effectively. 

Many often mistake a PM system for software. But in fact, its concept is much broader. While PM software deals with individual tasks like creating schedules, PM systems are broader in scope and focus on guiding the entire project management lifecycle. 

The system offers a framework to set up project management practices, assign responsibilities, and design procedures. Regardless of project scopes or types (e.g., Agile or hybrid), the system covers various aspects as follows: 

  • Planning
  • Resource management
  • Progress tracking 
  • Evaluation
  • Security

This system can be manual (using guidelines or documented processes) or automated (using specialized software).

Accordingly, the PM system can leverage specialized software or common professional packages to handle different tasks for each aspect. For example, software like Slack can support your teams in communication, file sharing, messaging automation, and more.

Therefore, project management software is just a part of the whole system. 

10 Key Components of a Project Management System

10 key components of a PMS

So, what components contribute to the formation of a project management system? Let’s take a deep look at 10 core elements that support you in building an effective system:

Project Scope

The 2023 PMI report found that one of the key drivers behind project success is low-level scope creep. This concept refers to the uncontrolled expansion of a project’s scope. If you don’t define a clear project scope, it’ll ruin your project’s deliverables, a client’s expectations, and even your reputation.

So, defining a clear scope in the project planning phase is crucial. Here are our tips:

  • Ensure effective communication with a client to keep you and the whole team understand the client’s requirements.
  • Gather all relevant information to ensure nothing is missed.
  • Ensure the client will respond quickly enough to your queries to prevent your project from running into a dead end. 
  • Do not add unnecessary features. For example, after receiving and analyzing a client’s requirements, we’ll create a preliminary list of features based on our similar past work. Besides, we build and deploy the most essential features, wait for client feedback, and continuously improve our product. This helps us focus on the key functionalities.
  • Build and implement standardized PM practices. At Designveloper, we follow best practices based on our adopted Agile methodologies, active communication, and continuous improvement.

Success Metrics

Evaluating a project as a success or failure requires a clear list of success metrics. 

According to PMI, quality of work and adherence to schedules are two core indicators to measure project success. 

But what else do you need to consider? And how can you establish a clear list of success criteria for your projects? Here are the following steps:

  1. Define clear objectives (like specific goals for each sprint, deliverables, or outcomes the project aims to achieve) 
  1. Set quantifiable metrics based on project performance, financial targets, and other benchmarks. 
  1. Break your project into smaller, manageable milestones and discuss the metrics used in each milestone to measure progress effectively.
  1. Regularly communicate with your clients to get updates or feedback about these metrics, then adjust them if needed.
  1. Conduct a post-implementation review with your clients to evaluate whether the project met these metrics. Discuss what worked well and what should be improved for future projects.
  1. Utilize insights acquired from the evaluation to refine your process. 

Deliverables 

Ask yourself: What do you want to achieve from the project? This question will help you identify specific deliverables at the end of each sprint and the whole process. These deliverables can be documents, prototypes, reports, software, or any other work results. 

When specifying what you want to achieve in the project management system, you should give its details (like quality or quantity information). Listing deliverables will ensure everyone knows exactly what to expect at sprint or project completion. 

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

As the name states, a WBS in project management is a visual breakdown of a project into smaller, manageable work packages or tasks. It organizes the project’s small sections in the hierarchy. Here’s a simple example of a WBS:

A well-structured WBS needs to simplify project planning, progress tracking, and resource allocation. 

Particularly, each section will identify relevant activities needed to meet all the objectives and achieve expected deliverables. Also, it also covers which teams or staff members are in charge of these activities, how resources are allocated to complete these tasks, and how the project performs. 

Project Schedule

Nearly a quarter of project managers suppose that their current deadlines aren’t realistic. This can make their projects hard to be completed timely and prone to scope creep. Therefore, setting a proper timeline is crucial for any project planning. 

A well-structured project management system can help you create an achievable project schedule by considering several factors:

  • Task Dependencies: The PMS allows you to define dependencies between tasks, ensuring that subsequent tasks don’t start before essential prerequisites are completed.
  • Resource Allocation: The system can factor in resource availability (e.g., team members, equipment) when creating the schedule, preventing bottlenecks and delays.
  • Risk Assessment: The PMS can integrate with risk management features to identify potential issues that could impact the schedule and allow for contingency planning.

Budget

Ensuring your project is within budget is crucial for any project manager. A well-structured project management system needs to detail a project’s estimated costs, covering labor, equipment, materials, and overhead. It can help you distribute your budget across projects effectively. 

Also, monitoring the budget allows you to track the overall expenses within your project. As such, you can identify how the project team is using allocated funding and whether a task is under budget. This will prevent cost overruns and ensure financial control.

Staff Management

20% of C-suite executives said that their project teams confront the problem of understaffing. This means they have too few members to run projects effectively.

Therefore, having a staff management plan is a must to guide human resources professionals on how to allocate staff reasonably. Further, this plan can provide a clear structure to manage staff members and even their working hours on a project.

Here’s how you can create an effective plan for staff management:

  • Establish goals and objectives by considering the project’s scope, timeline, and even deliverables.
  • Identify staffing needs for a project based on your experience or past similar projects. 
  • Determine gaps by analyzing skills and resources needed to complete projects effectively and compare them with those available. 
  • Devise strategies like training, reallocating talent, or new hiring to address these gaps.
  • Regularly review and modify your staffing plan based on feedback and project progress.
  • Use project management software to track task assigning, resource allocation, and project progress.

Quality Control

The process of managing quality involves keeping the whole production and deliverables meet predefined quality standards. A project management system acts as a project’s guardian of quality. Accordingly, it can support you with inspections, testing, and compliance with best practices. Here’s what a PMS can do:

  • Establish quality standards to assess multiple aspects of the project.
  • Constantly monitor quality with metrics like schedule performance, productivity, cost control, or cycle time. 
  • Determine a possible problem with quality and notify you when quality metrics decline below the preset quality thresholds.
  • Help you investigate the culprits of the quality fall and take corrective actions to bring quality back up to standard. 

Communication 

Communication is important for any project manager to meet all the project goals (68%) and ensure project success. Therefore, a systematic project management system should include a way to outline a schedule or agenda for different means of communication, including:

  • Project Meetings: According to our experience, some clients are difficult to communicate with via chat/email due to their busy schedules. So, we often suggest scheduling regular meetings at specific times like weekly status updates or milestone reviews. These meetings help us establish a routine, discuss roadblocks, and inform progress. 
  • Stakeholder Briefings: These are meetings or presentations intended to keep our key stakeholders and decision-makers informed about project developments.
  • Status Reports: Apart from meetings, we also produce documents outlining project progress, achievements, challenges, and next milestones. Such software as Jira or Trello automates the creation of visual dashboards to envision all the project information easily.
  • Presentations: Using formal presentations helps us share information, proposals, or project updates with those involved in the project.

Risk Assessment 

Understanding and predicting a project’s potential risks is a crucial part of your planning phase. Risks may involve time, quality, finance, other resources, and changes in requirements. 

Therefore, a project management system needs to assess and mitigate these possible risks with the assistance of project tools through the following process: 

  1. Identify risks that could affect your project based on historical data from similar projects. 
  1. Analyze risks to identify their potential impact on the project. Then, categorize them as high, medium, or low based on their probability and severity. 
  1. Prioritize the most critical risks that need immediate attention. 
  1. Develop a response plan to resolve each identified risk.
  1. Continuously monitor risks throughout the project lifecycle and implement the response plan if needed. Also, update risk evaluations and strategies when the project evolves and new risks emerge. 
  1. Communicate effectively with those involved in the project about these risks and management plans to ensure transparency. 

The PMS often comes with software to ease this process. For example, Jira integrates features or plugins (e.g., Jira Risk Register) to determine, track, and monitor project risks. It also provides interactive insights into risk management performance through the Risk Matrix or Risk Navigator. This hence allows you to take proactive actions to mitigate these risks.

Why Do You Need a PMS?

Why do you need a project management system?

Based on the core elements behind a project management system, you can recognize how important the system is to any project. Here are some immense benefits a PMS can offer you: 

  • Strategic Alignment: A PMS can ensure deliverables are aligned with a client’s strategic framework and your company’s principles.
  • Within Scope, Time & Budget: A system provides tools for tracking progress, expenses, and deadlines in each milestone. This can aid in completing projects within the agreed-upon time, budget, and scope. 
  • Resource Optimization: A system enables you to allocate and manage resources effectively. This mitigates the overloading or underuse of resources, from labor to tech-based tools.
  • Efficient Organization: A system helps you organize tasks, resources, and timelines effectively. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
  • Risk Mitigation: As already mentioned, a system utilizes software to facilitate risk tracking and mitigation strategies as well as boost seamless project execution.
  • Enhanced Communication: A system can facilitate clear communication among team members, stakeholders, and clients. It, therefore, minimizes misunderstandings and fosters collaboration.
  • Quality Assurance: A well-structured PMS defines consistent processes and best practices to maintain quality standards throughout the process. This ensures high-quality deliverables at the end of each milestone and the whole project.
  • Stakeholder Satisfaction: A well-implemented PMS builds trust and reinforces relationships. Also, it supports the delivery of successful project outcomes, thereby leading to satisfied stakeholders and clients.
  • Better Productivity: Project managers feel overwhelmed with chasing people for status updates (42.65%), doing repetitive admin work (24.64%), or manually writing project reports (13.27%). That’s where a PMS steps in as their right arm to handle these challenges. This accordingly streamlines processes and boosts overall productivity. 
  • Effective Decision-Making: The system offers a systematic, data-driven approach to project performance. This facilitates informed decision-making and problem-solving.

How to Use a Project Management System Effectively: Designveloper’s Insights 

You’ve understood the fundamentals behind a project management system, from its definition to its core components. So how can you implement this system effectively? 

At Designveloper, we’ve honed our project management skills through years of experience and experimentation. Here, we’ll share some insights on how to use a PMS efficiently, drawing on our specific workflows and the tools we favor:

Master Estimation

As already mentioned, estimating time, budget, and other resources is the best way to avoid unexpected project creep.  

Here’s what we do to make resource estimation for our client’s software development project:

At Designveloper, after receiving and understanding the client’s requirements, we combine project management software (like Jira or Trello) with analogous estimating to anticipate resources needed for new projects. 

This approach uses a vast library of historical data from our similar past projects to estimate how resources should be distributed to these new projects. Then, we make a preliminary estimation report and send it to the client.

For Agile/SCRUM projects, we often use Planning Poker, a common estimation technique for timeboxing. During the planning meeting, all team members will participate in estimating what should be done and how much time should be spent on each task. 

Planning Poker

Each member will give story points which are measurement units to estimate the overall effort needed to complete a product backlog item. The whole team then agrees on an estimated number of items done in the sprint (usually lasting two weeks).

This makes it easy for us to understand timeline expectations and track our progress more effectively.

Build a Feature Library

Our feature library plays a crucial role in efficient estimation. Initially, gathering client requirements can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with nascent ideas. 

To bridge this gap, we’ve built a library by meticulously recording, organizing, and synthesizing data from past projects. 

Now, when a new client comes on board, we can quickly find similar features in the library to provide a more accurate initial estimate. This not only saves time for both parties but also allows us to capture more project opportunities.

Choose the Right Tool

Choosing the right tool is one of the reasons leading to project success. Along with the growing business demands, the market size for this PM software is projected to increase at a CAGR of 15.7% between 2023 and 2030. But among numerous available options, which one is the most suitable for you? 

At Designveloper, we consider Trello and Jira for different purposes: 

Trello

We often use Trello for internal projects or non-technical teams (e.g., HR, Admin). 

Its intuitive board system allows us to track work progress with clear stages like “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” represented by columns (lists) on the board. 

Besides, Trello enables us to assign tasks to the right team members, add checklists, and notify due dates with reminders to ensure everyone stays on track.

Jira

For more complex projects, especially those following Agile methodologies like SCRUM or Kanban, we turn to Jira. 

This powerful tool supports both Agile frameworks and offers key features for effective Agile project management:

  • Customizable Workflows: We can define specific workflows for each task, ensuring tasks will be performed according to the team’s established process.
  • Detailed Reporting: Jira provides a robust reporting suite with insightful metrics like Burndown charts, Velocity charts, and Cumulative Flow Diagrams. These reports track our work progress, deployment frequency, and team velocity. This allows us to measure task progress, identify areas for improvement, allocate resources reasonably, and make informed decisions.
  • Future Planning: Roadmaps within Jira allow us to plan and visualize future product development.
Jira roadmaps

5 Factors to Choose the Right Tool

Each company has different requirements to pick up suitable tools for their projects. But we suggest you consider the five following elements when making a tool choice:

  • Project Size & Complexity: Consider your project scope and even project management methodologies. Further, pick tools that can smoothly scale up your project’s growth and have a short learning curve.
  • Team Size: Ask yourself to see how many staff members often get involved in projects. Then, consider platforms with sufficient capacity and essential capabilities to support the whole team.
  • Communication & Collaboration: Choose platforms providing necessary functions to facilitate communication like scheduling meetings, idea sharing, and more.
  • Budget: Think carefully about the pricing plan of each tool in the long term.
  • Integrations: Pick the tools that are seamlessly integrated with your existing tools and workflows.

Adhere to Best PM Practices

Establishing proper guidelines and practices is usually key to process management success. Here are the standardized practices we’ve applied across software development projects: 

  • Agile Methodology: We adopt Agile to release project increments, allowing clients to see progress and results after each short sprint. This approach reduces the effort required for extensive rework and enables continuous improvement.
  • Kaizen (Continuous Improvement): We continuously gather feedback from clients and team members to enhance team performance through retrospectives held after each sprint.
  • Flat Team Structure: Every team member plays an equal role and has the opportunity to voice their opinions. By encouraging everyone to think from the perspective of a product owner, we foster a collaborative environment where all members can suggest solutions and persuade clients to choose the best course of action when necessary.
  • Active Communication and Knowledge Sharing: We promote positive communication and knowledge sharing among team members regardless of their roles or levels. We provide a space for learning and development.
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): We use CI/CD to streamline the deployment process, making it simpler and more efficient.
  • Thorough Planning: We dedicate ample time to planning and carefully consider our approach before starting work.
  • Task/Issue Tracking: We utilize tools like Kanban/Jira or git projects for tracking tasks and issues.
  • Quarterly Sync-up Meetings: We often hold these meetings to ensure the transparency and consistency of requirements, leading to high-quality products. Also, we can make essential solutions promptly to any changes. 

Manage Time Effectively

After years of working on different projects, we recognize that effective time management requires the following factors:

  • Use of Technology: Leveraging advanced tools, even AI, helps us track project progress efficiently, make essential planning, and save more time. 
  • Task Prioritization: We need to ensure all those involved understand and prioritize the most critical tasks. Further, all changes in task priorities and a client’s expectations must be clarified within the team, thereby minimizing wasted time due to reworking.
  • Flexible Task Assigning: Normally, team members can freely choose the tasks they want to do. But when necessary, a project manager must be able to assign work effectively. This helps all members focus on important tasks and optimize time management.

Conclusion

Taming complex projects and achieving success is within your reach with a well-structured project management system. Explore the top 10 components we discussed and find the perfect system to fit your needs. 

So why wait? Take control of your projects today! Follow the Designveloper blog for more insights into PMSs.

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