This paper was submitted for publication 11/22/05 and is copyright to Brian K. Willard © 2005.
Published here June 2006.

Abstract | Introduction | What is Project Management | Project Creation
Project Success - As Commonly Measured | Project Success - A Different View
Project Success and Failures | Project Success - New Metrics and Measurements

What is Project Management

The following published definitions of project management show that it is not as clearly defined or understood as it should be. For example:

"Both a process and set of tools and techniques concerned with defining the project's goal, planning all the work to reach the goal, leading the project and support teams, monitoring progress, and seeing to it that the project is completed in a satisfactory way."[2]
"A controlled process of initiating, planning, executing, and closing down a project."[3]
"May be used in a project manufacturing environment for production scheduling or in a variety of one off projects throughout all types of organization [sic]."[4]
"The planning, control and co-ordination of all aspects of a project, and the motivation of all those involved in it, in order to achieve the project objectives."[5]
"Project management is the ensemble of activities (such as tasks) concerned with successfully achieving a set of goals. This includes planning, scheduling and maintaining progress of the activities that comprise the project. Reduced to its simplest project management is the discipline of maintaining the risk of failure at as low a value as necessary over the lifetime of the project. Risk of failure arises primarily from the presence of uncertainty at all stages of a project."[6]
"The art of directing and coordination human and material resources to achieve stated objectives within the limits of time, budget, and client satisfaction."[7]
"The use of skills and knowledge for coordinating the organization, planning, scheduling, directing, controlling, monitoring and evaluating of prescribed activities to ensure that the stated objectives of a project are achieved."[8] (4ETO)
"A set of well-defined methods and techniques for managing a team of people to accomplish a series of work tasks within a well-defined schedule and budget."[9]
"Planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it to achieve the project objectives on time and to specified cost, quality and performance."[10]
"Project management is the systematic planning, organizing and controlling of allocated resources to accomplish project cost, time and performance objectives."[11]
"Project management is concerned with the overall planning and co-ordination of a project from inception to completion aimed at meeting the client's requirements and ensuring completion on time, within cost and to required quality standards."[12]
"Approach used to manage work with the constraints of time, cost and performance targets."[13]

In reviewing the definitions above, which come from all over the world, a large number of organizations and institutions define project management by the success metrics of "On Time, On Budget and As Defined". I believe this view comes from the historical foundation of the project management role. "It is common for project management literature to confusingly intertwine these two separate components of project success [i.e. project management success and product success] and present them as a single homogenous group."[14]

This view is now starting to be challenged as project management matures and has been adopted by business as a way to implement systems, processes, and products within an organization. Although, still critical in the project management process, project managers are being asked to accomplish more than just the delivery of the project.

Introduction  Introduction

2. Rosenau, Griffin, Castellion, Anschuetz , 1996, glossary, The PDMA Handbook of New Product Development, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1996.
3. Schmitt, Dr. Lawrence, Available online at:
4. Homer Computer Services, Available on-line at:
5. UK Ministry of Defense Acquisition Management System, Available on-line at:
6. Wikipedia, Available On-Line at:
7. Wideman, R.M., Modeling Project Management, Available On-Line at: 8. 4ETO, Available On-Line at
9. Balanced Scorecard Institute, Available On-Line at:
10. Association of Project Management, Glossary of Project Management Terms, Available On-Line at:
11. Treasury Board of Canada, Capital Plans - Glossary, Available On-Line at:
12. European Council for Building Professionals, Glossary of Construction, Available On-Line at:
13. Welcom, PM Glossary, Available On-Line at:
14. Baccarini, David, 1999, pp. 25-32, The logical framework method for defining project success, Project Management Journal, 30 (4)
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