Project Management Courses

Project Management Courses

This page gives you details of the questions our project management courses.

What is a Project?

One way of defining what is a project is to say any piece of work which is not regular. Not something you would do in your day to day role. That way any new piece of work can be thought of as a project.

Another way to define what a project is as follows:

  • It takes more than a day to complete.
  • It needs more than one person to complete.
  • You consider it to be complex.

What is a project? One part of project management is not to make assumptions, so let’s start by not making an assumption. For that reason the word project needs defining. A project can be defined as any unusual piece of work that would not be carried out in a regular working week.

When general work becomes a project

Some projects are definitely projects. They are very big, involve lots of people, will take lots of time and cost lots of money. Building roads, bridges and ships are all clearly projects.

But in your average organisation there are lots of pieces of work which are not at first recognised as projects. They may start as small discreet tasks, or requests to do something. But they can soon grow into more complex tasks and into projects.

At first it sounds too obvious but a key skill in project management skill is to recognise a project when we see one. This means we should look at a piece of work and see that it is a project. 

When a piece of work is recognised as a project it means it needs planning and careful thought. It can’t just be done quickly. One of the common causes of failure in projects is when the work is not recognised as a project in the first place.

Project Organisation

One of the key project management skills is being organised. This is because project management is all about being organised. We can replace one word for the other. Project management means project organisation.

Some people have the skill of being naturally organised. Others develop organisation through learning and practice.

The organised project manager has a plan. They spend time making sure that plan is thorough and considers all aspect of the project. They think carefully about who needs to be involved in the project. The organised project manager has files and folders structured for easy access by all those who need to see them. They reflect on how the project fits into the organisation’s objectives. As a result the organised project manager is efficient in they way they run their projects.

What is Project Management

Because projects are so common in lots of roles today, an understanding of project management is vital for many people.

Literally project management is all about overseeing all the different elements that lead to the completion of a piece of work. This means managing is essential. Making sure all the tasks which make up the project are performed successfully.

It involves managing both the processes and people elements. Our project management courses explore all aspects of project management.

Project Management Courses

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Virtual Project Management Training
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introduction to Project Management
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Project Management Course

The Project Kick-Off Meeting

The project kick-off meeting is an essential part of a successful project. This is because human beings still need to feel part of a group.

The kick off meeting can be face to face or on line. The idea is to make sure everyone;s expectations are set in the right way. But more than that it is about helping people to feel part of a group, the project group.

At the kick-off meeting the objectives and context for the project will be made clear. The importance to the organisation can be emphasised. Questions from the project group can be answered so that everyone feels they have a clear idea on what the project is about and their role in it.

Project Leadership

Leadership in a project is usually the responsibility of the project manager. 

Leadership differs from manageemnt by our definition in that it is about setting the right culture for the project group. Where management is about who does what, as well as when and how they do it. Leadership is about what it is like to work on that project. The vision for the project. How it makes people feel to be a part of it.

Project leadership is a distinct part of project management and needs specific focus and attention.

Managing the Process

There are lots of processes involved and to answer the question ‘what is project management’ it is useful to look at the most important.

Project planning: the process of outlining each step in the project; who will do what and by when.

Communication processes: Includes when communication will occur and where data will be stored.

Milestones: The big steps in a project.

Tasks: The smaller steps in each milestone.

Project Meeting

Managing People

Managing people is a critical part of project management which we explore in our project management courses. The team members who make up a project team will need different approaches to their management. Their personalities, responses to stress, time management abilities, to mention just a few, will all impact on how they need to be managed.

Managing people means understanding what each person needs in terms of resources, time, context, support, reward and motivation to do the job. Some people just need the task and objective outlined and they can get the job done. Others need a lot more context of the overall project, not just the task they need to perform. And others need motivation and support to do a hood job. Consequently project management often requires skillful people management for the project to be a success.


Fire Fighting

Despite careful planning things do go wrong. The term fire fighting in this context relates to unforeseen problems that occur in the project.

The project manager needs to react to these problems with a cool head and wherever possible with a plan. Most problems can be predicted and planned for. Fire fighting should mean the implementation of a planned response.


As projects involve working with people who may not have the same priorities as the project lead, influencing can be a key skills to use in successful project management.

Influencing is involved when trying to ensure people on the project, who are involved in many projects or pieces of work, do what you need them to do. Persuading people requires an understanding of their perspective of the work, their motivation and personality.

Performance Management

Managing performance means making sure those involved in the project deliver wok of the right quality. The quality required needs communicating at the outset so that people have the opportunity to perform to that standard.

Project management means making sure the quality required is achieved.

Managing Expectations

Most organisations have multiple projects at any one time. Managing expectations is to ensure that all those people involved in the project and all those impacted by it, have their understanding of what is happening managed.

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Project Purpose

The first step is to establish the purpose of the project. What is the objective? What do you need the project to do? Why is there a project at all? It is very important to get agreement on the objective. This will save a lot of potential difficulties later on. If people don’t agree on the objective they may have differing expectations of what the project is about. In our methodology we also ask questions like; ‘What does success look like?’ So it’s not just about the objective. It is also about describing the desired outcomes.


Projects get nowhere without the involvement and commitment of people. This may be a formal project team. Or a less formal arrangement. Each person in a project has a role to play. This methodology goes through all the roles. These include project sponsor, project manager to specific task managers. It is important to assess each person’s commitment and enthusiasm for a project. This assessment will help in removing road blocks ahead.

Project Communication

Communication is one of the key project management skills covered in our project management courses. This is because many projects involve working with people. These may be in a team, but more than likely it will involve people in other teams and other organisations. As a result it is important to make sure our communication skills are good enough to manage projects.

Good communication means making sure everyone knows what they need to know when they need to know it. It means giving easy access to information resources. Seeing things from other people’s perspective is key here. It is easy to think people know what they need to but in reality it is important to make sure they do.

A summary of key elements of communication in project management:

  1. Easy access to data.
  2. Updates on news, what has been achieved and expectations.
  3. Use a clear project name in your email subject line, so that people can notice and find emails easily.
  4. Communicate changes in the project, including deadline changes and objective changes.
  5. Consider the personality of other people and what their requirements for communication will be.
  6. When tasks have not been achieved on time, inter-dependency updates should be communicated immediately.
  7. Messages from project sponsors need to be passed on to the project team.
  8. Remember to communicate updates to those people away on holiday, who may not read all their emails on return.
  9. Consider using a social media app, like Whats App for some project communications.


This part of the methodology is about budgeting. What is the overall budget for the project? How is this broken down. How is the budget calculated? Are there any pressures on the budget?

Not all projects have a budget element. But sometimes those which at first don’t, on closer analysis actually do. This is sometimes because a senior manger has delegated a project, but has not delegated the cost part. Your time has a cost, so we could say every project has a budget.

Most projects have some sort of financial aspect. This may be taken care of by a senior manager or project director. If not it is one of the key project manager responsibilities to manage the budget. So this means agreeing an overall total cost for the project. It also means breaking that budget down into smaller sections for each part of the project. As the project progresses the project manager needs to be aware of how the actual budget compares to the planned budget.


Processes in our Project Management Courses

Processes are about the structure of the project covered in our project management courses. We break these down into Milestones and Tasks. A milestone is a major piece of work in the project. For example, if the project was to build a new facility then materials purchasing would be a milestone. Foundation construction would be another milestones. Furnishing the interior would be another. And landscaping might be another milestone. These are major steps in the process of completing the project.

Tasks are the smaller steps within each milestone. So in our example, inviting tenders for materials supply would be a task. Selecting materials, would also be a task.

Both milestones and tasks can be delegated. But it is the project manager’s responsibility to know what is happening at every step of the project even if the task is delegated.



It is the project manager’s responsibility to write down the milestones for a project. A milestone is a big step in the progress of a project. Milestones form part of the planning process.

There may be just two or three, or any number of these big stages in a project. They may well linked to major budget spending. They could be linked to different stages in the project, like different types of activity.

These milestones make the project easier to plan and understand. By breaking the project down into smaller steps the total activity seems more manageable.

For example a new building could have the following milestones:

  1. Architects’ design plans.
  2. Local authority planning approval.
  3. Building plans from architect.
  4. Clear site.
  5. Lay foundations.
  6. Construct walls & floors.
  7. Complete roof.
  8. Install windows and doors to make structure water tight.
  9. Install electricity and water to building.
  10. Complete internal walls with timber and plasterboard.
  11. Finish electrics.
  12. Floor and wall finishes with tile and paint.

In this examples we have 12 major milestones and there could easily be more. Underneath each one of these milestones are a number of tasks. And again each tasks could have a number of sub-tasks.

So in conclusion milestone setting is one of the key project manager responsibilities, and one which needs careful thought and planning.


An inter-dependency occurs when one task cannot be started until another one is complete. So for example, a cake decorator cannot begin to decorate the cake until the baker makes the cake.

The project manager needs to identify all the inter-dependencies in the project and communicate these to those who are involved. Both the person who has to do the first task and who can only start their task when this is complete. Regular progress updates are essential for everyone to plan their time efficiently.

If it appears a task may not be completed on time, the project manager may decide to allocate more resource, change the task or alter things in other ways.

In conclusion, managing work between different people in this way is a key responsibility of the successful project manager.

Milestone Completion

Project manager responsibilities include making sure milestone are completed. This means keeping track of progress, identifying any issues and resolving problems as they arise.

Making sure the project is delivered on time is ensured by concentrating on each the milestones that make up the project. The project manager needs to look at each milestone and asses how well it is doing against the delivery date.

Just because a person says they have allocated time for a task does not means that time won’t come under pressure from other tasks or projects. the project manager needs to look out for these situations and intervene when required.

Planning in our Project Management Courses

The planning phase is where each milestone and each task is allocated to a person. Each one is also given a timeline and a deadline. A time within which the task has to be done. And a deadline by which the task needs to be completed. A key part of planning is identifying inter-dependencies. These are points in the project where one task cannot be started until another task is completed. Often these tasks are the responsibility of different people. This means one person is waiting for another person before they can begin their task. The project manager must manage these dependencies very carefully as they can be the source of time delays and frustration.

Planning is a very important skill in project management. In project management planning is vital because it relates to all the thinking we need to do before we go into action. Planning means deciding what is going to be done, when it’s going to be done and who is going to do it. Planning a project will typically take a minimum of a day in time. This is because there is a lot to plan. Questions need to be answered.

Planning & Preparation

‘What is the difference between project planing & preparation?’ is a common question in our training

It’s similar to the general difference between planning and preparation.

Project planning means the activity in scoping out what you are going to do, when it is going to be done and who is going to do it. Project preparation means activities you need to do before some of those tasks.

So project planning will usually involve deciding on when and where you will have project meetings, who will be involved in the project and what their responsibilities will be.

Project preparation will be activities involved before you have your project meetings. It will probably involve activities before the project starts like briefing customers or key stakeholders.

Project Discipline

Some people have the sort of personality where discipline comes naturally. Others have strengths elsewhere. Wherever your strengths lie, another one of the key project management skills is discipline. This means making sure communication is carried out in a timely fashion. It means that commitments are delivered on time. It also means that the project is run with expectations managed throughout the process.

Discipline is also found in planning your project thoroughly and completing tasks to the correct amount of attention to detail.

People Management

Managing people is one of those areas which seems almost too obvious to be included in a list of project management skills. But it is worthy of mention because managing people is fundamental to managing projects. Managing people includes other areas mentioned here including communication, discipline, understanding and working with people, but it includes other management skills. Most of all it means making sure those people under direct responsibility do what they are expected to do and do it in a timely fashion.

Project delegation

The project manager is usually not expected to carry out all the tasks in a project. For this reason delegation is essential.

Delegation means deciding who is going to do each task. It means discussing the task with them, answering questions, providing support and being available throughout the task.

There are various models available to help decide who to allocate a task to and how to ado this. For example the personality and work style of the person is considered to see how well this matches with the task required. Another model reviews the person’s experience, capability and willingness to do the specific task.

Another model looks at the project managers preferred delegation style. The four are; telling, selling, coaching and giving. Each style is appropriate with a certain type of task and person being delegated to.

We can see therefore that delegation is a key part of the job of being a project manager. It is a skill in itself which needs review and practice.

Project completion

Managing Upwards

An important responsibility for project managers is to manage upwards. Managing upwards means making sure the project has the right support from levels of manager above that of the project manager. It means those senior people deliver on their promises.

Managing upwards can also involve defending the project if it gets threatened by senior managers. This may be due to a change in priorities, or personnel changes, or budget pressures. The project manager needs to ensure senior manager know and understand the benefits of the project before they make decisions on the project.

Managing upwards can also include defending the resources required to deliver the project, from being taken for other activities. Making sure people allocated for the project stay on the project can be vital.

So in conclusion managing upwards is another key part of the role of the project manager, and one that can be easily overlooked.

Project complexity

Projects have become a feature of many roles in organisations. Some jobs are now project based in the sense that there are no static functions to carry out. The person goes from project to project. This means project management is a key skill for an increasing number of people.

If you like our tips you might also like our Project Planning Tool. This is an online format which allows up to 5 projects to be planned at any one time. It takes you through all the major steps in planning your project and asks you lots of searching questions. It really makes you think about your project and ensures you plan it well. You can log in whenever you like to update your plan. 

Project Manager Responsibilities

We have responsibilities as project managers for those who are not necessarily professional project managers, but those who find themselves managing projects as part of their role. That’s because many people find themselves managing projects in their day to day work. So this article gives an overview of the responsibilities when managing a project.

A successful project is often defined as one which is completed on time and on budget. This means the project is finished within the agreed deadline and the costs are within the budget expectations.

The project manager has the responsibility for making sure the project is managed well and delivers the desired result on time. Everything else the project manager does leads to this responsibility.

How many projects are completed on time? It depends on the organisation and the industry. Some say all their project are on time. Others say very few. IT project are notoriously bad for taking more time than planned.

Learning from previous projects in the organisation and in specific departments can be vital to setting realistic timelines for future projects.

In conclusion the primary responsibility of the project manager is to complete the project on time.

Project Plan

The project manager must develop a project plan for the project. This includes setting out all the steps needed from start to completion. It is a time based list of all the activities that make up the project.

The project plan can be a simple excel based document. Using a common piece of software means that most people can open it and review the contents. making access to the plan easy means that people are more likely to use it. Excel docs can be saved as read only to protect the plan.

Some projects and some people work based with a plan they can  see all the time. For this reason a wall board with post it notes can work very effectively. Time is indicated on one axis and a list of the activities down the other. Post it notes are placed when the activity needs to happen and be completed.

A big part of project management is planning. They make decisions on what needs to be done, who is going to do it and by when. The planning stage in everyday projects is often overlooked. Sometimes the project manager is so focused on the goal that they get started straight away. But it is much better to invest time in planning so that the project can be mapped out from the start. This means expectations can be set and managed as well as resources planned.

Knowing the detail of the project

Project management means knowing the project inside out and upside down. Sometimes this is called keeping on top of the detail. First of all the project manager needs to know where the project is up to at any stage in its progress.

They have to know who is doing what and the progress they are making. Each of the delegated tasks has to be known by the project manager. They may not have the technical know how but they will know the content of the tasks and the issues that may be involved.

To be on top of the detail is useful for the project manager to ask themselves key questions every day.

  1. What is happening on the project today?
  2. Which people are doing which tasks today?
  3. What help do they need?
  4. Are they going to complete their tasks today?
  5. What support do I need to give?
  6. Are there any roadblocks I need to clear?

In conclusion it’s fair to say the project manager might not do any of the actual tasks in a project. But they have to know the detail of every task being done so that they can help solve problems if they occur.

Day to Day Management

One of the key project manager responsibilities is to make sure they know what is happening in the project from day to day.

The challenge with this is often that the project is not the only work the project manager is responsible for. It can easily be the case that their attention is taken by other work.

For the project manager to ensure they know what is happening with the project from day to day, successful time management is key. This often means allocating a set amount of time in each day to the project. Some days this may be as little as ten minutes just to check in with people to make sure they are on track and to hear about any challenges with tasks.

It is a good idea to allocate time in the diary every day for the project. Even if this time is not used it is in the diary and can be used if required. It is always welcome when time becomes available.

The Project Manager

The project manager is the person anyone can go to if they have questions about a project. The project manager knows everything about a project, or at least who to talk to. This means the project manager has to keep themselves informed on the progress of all delegated work, whether this be internally or to outside contractors.

Project managers need to look ahead and see possible challenges. They need to support other members of staff. They can provide training or coaching where required. And they have to get everyone organised in order to deliver the project.

Project Manager Responsibilities

Here’s a brief overview list of what a project manager does:

  1. Makes sure the project is completed on time and on budget.
  2. Puts together a project team.
  3. Plans the project in detail.
  4. Gets a project sponsor involved at high level who can clear roadblocks.
  5. Breaks the project down into milestones.
  6. Breaks each milestone down into tasks.
  7. Delegates tasks and ensures they are completed on time and to the correct standard.
  8. Manages their own time to make sure the project is given sufficient resources.
  9. Keeps everyone informed as the project progresses.
  10. Identifies issues early on and deals with them.

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