Let us begin by identifying a project. Really, it is any undertaking with an established starting point and defined objectives, the achievement of which clearly signify the conclusion of the project. In practice most projects are constrained by limits on the resources available to achieve the required objectives. The whole process of managing such a project is, of course, known as Project Management.
However, project management is merely a catchall phrase for a number of major sub-functions. It is the very identification and on-going analysis of these functions, which establishes the PMBOK. The representation of the PMBOK as a matrix provides flexibility in describing the various function interrelationships. However, the function chart structure contained within each of these functions is presented as a work breakdown structure. The major project management functions that have been identified are briefly described below.
Project management is unique
Managing a project is different from managing an established on-going enterprise. To mention but a few of the obvious differences:
- Life in an on-going enterprise is relatively simple and certain for extended periods of time.
- Relatively large quantities of goods or services are produced per given time period.
- Tasks are generally repetitive, continuous or exhibit substantial similarity.
- Roles and relationships are well understood, having developed and adjusted over long periods of time, and
- The work environment is relatively stable.
None of these are true in a project environment. In a sense every project is unique, if only by virtue of its own set of constraints, although indeed there may be many projects of a similar nature. Some typical examples of projects include:
- Launching a new venture
- Developing a new product
- Effecting a change in structure, staffing, system or style in an existing organization
- Turning a poor performance situation into a satis-factory one within a target period
- Designing and producing a new transportation vehicle
- Designing and constructing a building or facility
- Implementing an urban or rural development program
Many texts have been written about both traditional- and project- management. Doubtless many more will be written as our understanding continually advances. Here, therefore, we can only touch on some of the basic reasons for including the present range of functions within the PMBOK Standards.