Introduction to Project Management

Introduction to Project Management
Last edited by Jan Kinney about 2 years ago

Introduction to Project Management

doghouse and checklist

Welcome to Introduction to Project Management! This short course presents excerpts from Project Management 400 (Project Overview and Planning), a three-month long course that is part of the Project Management Certificate Program, offered both online and in classrooms by University of Washington Educational Outreach. Project Management 400 introduces students immediately to working in teams; they advance to defining a project in terms that executives can understand quickly. A perspective of project planning and life cycles lays the foundation for dividing the project into easily do-able parts, sizing them, and identifying a project's critical path. (For more information about the Project Management program, please see

In this short course, you'll work individually. You'll walk through part of a fictional project—building a doghouse—and a real project of your choice, as you learn some of the basics of project management. You'll learn how to create two of the important components—deliverables—of a comprehensive project plan: the Project Overview Statement and the Work Breakdown Structure.

Introduction to Project Management is presented as a set of four online, text-based lessons. Each lesson includes optional activities that guide you through the initial planning stages for a project of your own.

Introduction to Project Management emphasizes the skills you will need to define your project and its scope,and analyze the specific tasks needed to complete the project. In this course, you will obviously not be supervising a large construction project; in fact, the fictional project you'll walk through in this course can be completed in a single afternoon. Another difference is that our fictional project can be completed by one person, rather than an entire, diversified team. But even this small project involves the same kind of planning that goes into a much larger one. The skills you learn in this course can apply to any project, large or small, including

  • giving a dinner party for 12 guests;
  • taking a vacation to Puerta Vallarta;
  • redecorating a room for the new baby;
  • writing a book; or
  • opening your own espresso stand.

The fictional project is as follows:

You've decided that your golden retriever should spend more time outdoors in good weather, and so it's time you built her a doghouse in your back yard. In preparation, you've found a Web site that shows how to build doghouses, with detailed diagrams and instructions, and photos of the beautiful finished products. You'd like to complete this project this coming Saturday afternoon.

Getting Started

When you're ready to begin, press the "Modules" button on the left-hand side of this page, and click on Lesson 1! Be sure your speakers or headphones are turned on so you can hear the narration.

Course Goals and Objectives

This short course is intended as an introduction to the complex and challenging world of project management. Our goal for you in this course is that you will better understand the process of planning and organizing a project, and that you will acquire some of the skills necessary to make your projects successful and enjoyable.

By the end of this course you will be able to

  • determine whether what you are planning is a project, a program, or a routine;
  • identify the customers and stakeholders in your project;
  • state the problem and/or opportunity your project will address;
  • write a Project Overview Statement (POS);
  • analyze the steps needed to actually carry out the project (the Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS); and
  • create criteria for success.

Course Structure

Lesson 1: What Is a Project?

In this lesson, you'll learn to distinguish between a project, a program, and a routine activity. You'll take a short quiz, and then apply the criteria for a project to an activity of your choice.

Lesson 2: Defining Your Project

In this lesson, you'll learn the fundamentals of defining the project and its scope, as well as the needs it fulfills or the opportunity it exploits, possible issues that may develop as the project progresses, the stakeholders in the project, and the communication needs of all stakeholders. You'll then create a definition for a project of your choice.

Lesson 3: The Project Overview Statement

This lesson shows you how to write a detailed project description that will tell your customer and you exactly what you can expect in quality and quantity of deliverables, budget/costs, and the time frame in which the project will be finished. You'll also look at the assumptions, risks, and potential obstacles associated with your project. You'll write a Project Overview Statement for a project of your choice.

Lesson 4: The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

In this last lesson, you'll learn how to break your project down into major tasks and sub-tasks, each with its own deliverable, to create an important document: the Work Breakdown Structure. You'll finish a partially-completed WBS for the doghouse project, and you'll have the option of creating a WBS for your own project.