I would argue that all business schools recognize the importance of knowing how to manage projects in working life. They can be group projects or they can be projects that you are solely responsible for. Either way, projects are a big part of work. Most business schools I know have incorporated projects in their programs. However, not all schools teach the basics of project management before assigning the students with projects.

If you are a student in a situation like this, or you have noticed a need to understand project management in your job, this post is for you!

Project management is a complex topic, but let’s start with the basics

Project management consists of several subcategories like people management, risk and change management, time management, international project management, agile project management, budgeting, coordinating resources, ensuring quality, communication… All of which you can study in more depth as separate courses. Here, however, I’m concentrating on courses that handle project management as a whole. Courses that are suitable for people who have never studied project management before and want to learn the basics.

You don’t need to be a project manager to benefit from knowing the basics of project management

If you are e.g. a freelancer, self-employed, or your project is one that will affect your own future, one of the most important steps -if not the most important one- of your project management life-cycle is to determine whether the project is actually worth executing. You can ask yourself, if the project will support the lifestyle you want to have. The support can be various things like money, time, learning new skills, etc. It doesn’t matter what the incentive is as long as it supports your long-term goals. Don’t waste your time on projects that are neither interesting nor bring any value for the future-you.

If you aren’t in the position where you can choose what projects will be executed (you might not even be the project manager), but you still want to do a good job, learning more about project management is important. In my own experience, projects where all participants understand the life cycle of a project, are the smoothest ones. At the same time, all projects are unique, and therefore, even if you have worked on similar projects before, you cannot be sure everything will go the same way. Therefore, even more experienced project workers may benefit from project management courses!

Remember, even if you don’t always feel that the project is the right move for the company, you will have the opportunity to learn something new! And, like we all know, continuous learning will keep you a valued worker. Self-development, like learning new skills, will also help you to get promoted or land a new job if that’s what you dream of.

Where can you learn project management basics online?

Many project management courses only offer quite basic information on the topic. And there’s a good reason to that: you cannot become a great project manager without actually working on projects!

If you need to learn the very basics of project management and you want to do it in a short period of time, you can watch the Project Management Foundations on LinkedIn Learning. I thought this course provided surprisingly good information in just a few hours. If you don’t find this course useful, there are lots of other short project management courses on LinkedIn Learning, so I recommend browsing the choices.

On FutureLearn you can find several project management courses, but if you are totally new to this topic, I’d recommend starting with Business Fundamentals: Project Management. This course provides the basic information about project management and it is also mentioned as a recommended starting point on some other project management courses on FutureLearn.

Another project management basics course you may want to check out is Introduction to Project Management on edX. This course guides you through the life cycle of project management from planning and scheduling all the way to the end of your project giving you practical advice for every step of the way.

Whichever you choose, I recommend going through the course materials with real-life examples in mind. The examples may be future plans or even past experiences. It can be extremely helpful to think past projects retrospectively. What went wrong? Which actions were successful?

Please note, that if you want/need an official Project Management Professional -certificate, you want to familiarize yourself with the certification process. This post is not for that. This post is only meant to give you examples where you can get the basic knowledge about project management and why you would want to do that.

If you were not sure in the beginning, whether or not you need to learn more about project management, I bet you now have decided to dig the possibilities deeper. If so, I’m glad! I truly feel this topic is useful for all of us! As always, I hope you have fun studying!

Disclaimer: I am writing from my own experience as an online learner and from my own point of view. The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and therefore subjective. The courses and programs mentioned in this post were available at the time this was written, but I cannot guarantee they will be available in the future.