Adapted from a paper originally presented to an International Project/Program Management Workshop ESC Lille - Lille Graduate School of Management, Lille, France, © 2005.
Published here September 2007.

Introduction | Different Strokes for Different Folks
Ad Hoc versus Systematic Project Categorization
Proposed Matrix for Systematic Categorization of Projects | PART 2

Dr. Russell Archibald, MSc, Fellow PMI and APM/IPMA, PMP, is one of the founding members of the Project Management Institute, USA. Now retired, he has had many years of management experience in engineering and operations with a variety of major US corporations, practicing in Europe, South America as well as the US. He has made major contributions to the understanding of project management and is author of the best selling book "Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects".


The objectives of this paper are to:

  • Discuss the purposes of, and need for, a project categorization system
  • Present a recommended approach to the systematic definition of project categorization and classification, and
  • Describe the use of a Purposes/Methods Matrix for Project Categorization to facilitate this systematic definition.

What Drives the Need for a Project Categorization System?

The fundamental driver for pursuing the design of an effective project categorizing system is the realization that significant differences exist between the large numbers of projects within:

  • The total spectrum of actual projects in government, business and industry, and
  • The smaller numbers of projects that are being planned and executed within one organizational entity.

Practical experience over many decades in managing the many types (or categories) of projects has led to:

  • Recognition, definition and understanding of the project management/PM principles and practices that are common to all (or at least many) projects in all types of human endeavors and organizations, as documented in the several PM bodies of knowledge and the PM literature in general; and also
  • Recognition (more recently) that the diversity inherent within the many existing and potential projects demands that projects be segregated in several ways for several purposes to continue to improve the ways in which both the buyers (owners) and sellers (contractors or developers) of projects:
    • Strategically and operationally select and prioritize their projects,
    • Operationally plan and execute their projects individually, within programs, and within project portfolios
    • Educate and train the managers and specialists involved in projects and PM; and
    • Develop and manage the careers of managers and specialists involved in projects.

Beyond Project Buyers and Sellers

In addition to project buyers and sellers there are at least four other major players in the PM industry worldwide:

  • PM software application developers and vendors (who are often sellers of IT projects),
  • Consultants, educators, and trainers in PM,
  • Universities offering courses, certificates, and degrees in PM, and
  • Professional associations devoted to or interested in PM.

At least some members of each of these groups have also learned that recognizing the differences between various kinds or types of projects can help them continue to improve their offerings to the PM marketplace.


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