This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is Copyright to Alan Harpham, 2005.
Published here March 2006.

Introduction | Effective Project Management
Good Practice, Not Necessarily Best
The Need: Highly Educated and Experienced Project Managers

Effective Project Management

As we in the APM Group[1] know, effective project management requires three things:

  • Good governance,
  • Good process and
  • Good people

or "GGP&P" to coin a new acronym - almost as popular as Holy Grails!

By definition, "best" means that it cannot be bettered, but is defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as "the most excellent way", and colloquially: "to get the better of‚ someone" (not what I am trying to do here, of course!) Meanwhile, "practice" means "habitual action or carrying on‚ repeated exercise, professional work or business" and a few more rare definitions. Therefore, in this case, we are talking about the best way of taking actions on projects. For many in project management this will refer to the best way of doing projects, a best methodology, just one part of the GGP&P above, although PRINCE2, a UK methodology, does go some way towards describing project governance.

In the UK the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), a part of the Treasury, has as one of its objectives the intent to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its procurement projects. Therefore, it decided some time ago to develop a best practice approach to managing projects, now called PRINCE2, and a best practice for managing programs, now called Managing Successful Programmes (MSP). These documents are published for the benefit of practitioners everywhere, but particularly in central and extended government. This is a different source to the one Max references, although it is true that OGC used members of its development committee drawn from practitioners in all walks of projects, both public and private sectors. Of course it is also true that as a form of good practice‚ PRINCE2 and MSP have been adopted by more users than any other good practice, both in the UK and worldwide (90,000 to date and growing).

This is because whilst it might no longer be at the forefront, even OGC has now decided to focus more on its adoption than its improvement - it has become a virtuous circle. We are finding that more and more large (and smaller) organizations are turning to PRINCE2, because it involves considerably less expense than writing their own methodology, indeed a fraction of the cost. Further, there is a ready army of existing practitioners out there to recruit from, some 90,000+ world wide with over 50,000 in the UK. All the organization needs to do is to tailor the methodology and train its new recruits in the fine-tuning if they are already qualified. Furthermore, training of its own staff is very cost effective with a competitive army of approved trainers (300 worldwide) and Accredited Training Organizations (80+ worldwide; 50+ in the UK)

Introduction  Introduction

1. Editor's Note: This is not to be confused with the Association for Project Management Group. As Alan Harpham explains it: "we are The APM Group and not The Association for Project Management Group. Whilst we started as the trading arm of the Association, we parted company in 2000 on the express condition we did nothing to pass ourselves off as the Association. We therefore, with the Association's agreement, went with the abbreviated form The APM Group, or sometimes for short APMG. The Association for its part had planned to change their name probably to an Institute, but so far they have not. They have recently altered their logos and image as you can see if you visit their web site:
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page