Some Basic Concepts of Project Management
In developing any project, we must plan the What?, When?, Who?,
How?, How well?, and How much? A project can only be executed effectively
with a clear definition of the objectives to be achieved, and a
plan for achieving those objectives.
Project management also relies heavily on the science of management
systems. For example, Decision Analysis (an outgrowth of systems
science) is a methodical and logical process for evaluating information,
predicting the future, evaluating and comparing alternative courses
of action, and selecting the best course to achieve the stated objectives.
Management by Exception
Once the planning is complete and the objectives have been defined,
management of a project should be by exception to the plan. Any
other scheme would be chaotic, and usually is! Good management should
not have to act during the execution of a project unless there is
a deviation from the plan. If those deviations are beyond the project's
control, however, then the owner or sponsor's executive management
must alter the original objectives.
Delegation of Authority
Management by exception clearly implies that authority to act during
execution of a project must be delegated as much as possible. This
must be commensurate with the ability and experience of the project
team to make decisions in accordance with the plan. That is why
a trained and experienced project manager is so important. A good
project manager must recognize, react, and exploit unexpected change
to the advantage of the project.
Because owners investing in capital works can deal more effectively
through a single organization, an effective project management organizational
structure, complete with appropriate management systems, is essential.
Such an organization must assume responsibility for feasibility,
scheduling, design, cost control, procurement and delivery. This
forces a logical approach and facilitates decision making. Managerial
unity can thus be established within an otherwise functional organizational
structure, and the Owner can continue to concentrate on his primary
business with minimal dilution of effort.
In turn, the Project Manager in charge of such an organization
must interpret the Owner's requirements and direct and integrate
the work of various specialists in diverse disciplines. He must
look at the overall project without being influenced by, say, the
specialist's bias or the contractor's profit motive.
Thus, responsibility for conducting the project rests with the
Project Manager's team, and this team must be very results oriented.
This central group must be similarly capable of delegating and motivating.
This is especially important where other functional groups are required
to contribute to the project, but whose primary responsibilities
Consequently, the Project Management Organization must become a
central clearing house for timely project decisions often involving
divergent interests. It must pull together such diverse activities
as feasibility studies, client changes, etc. As such it is directly
involved in managing the participation of parties normally outside
its direct control.
Project scope and complexity frequently dictate the need for a
formally structured Project Management System. This is necessary
to balance design and construction within schedule, cost and quality
constraints; to synchronize activities in terms of time, cost and
place; and to coordinate human and material resources.
Through such a Project Management Organization, properly set up
and efficiently managed, the Owner can achieve effective control
of the project from the beginning.
Project Manager's Objectives
It follows from the foregoing that the Project Manager's personal
objectives must be to:
- Attain the willing commitment of people to assigned tasks;
- Achieve the coordination and collaboration of different work
groups, responsibility centers, and entire organizations, including
those of the owner;
- Achieve cooperation by placing a high premium on reliability
and timeliness of information, and by discouraging unnecessary
or irrelevant information;
- Steer the project to completion in an orderly and progressive
- Ensure that trade-offs between scope, cost and time are satisfactory
and acceptable, and are seen to be so; and
- Perpetuate development of personal and professional skills and
the potentialities of project participants.