This paper is the fourth of a four-part series in which an attempt has been made to capture the collective wisdom of the leading participants in an extended LinkedIn discussion over the first six months of 2014. The actual original texts have been edited for grammar and spelling to make for easier reading online. The observations quoted are the opinions and property of the contributors as noted.

Published here November 2014.

PART 3 | Some of the Things that Contributors Said About Success
More Contributors' Thoughts on Project Success | Confusion Abounds
The Meaning of the Term "Project Management"
The Meaning of "Program Management" | "Project Portfolio Management"

The Meaning of the Term "Project Management"

While we are at it, we should also look at the definition of project management. According to PMBOK, project management is:[3]

"The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements."

This definition is not terribly helpful, but it does make it clear that project management is the work of managing the activities involved in a project. Once again we think that the definition presented in the original 1987 Body of Knowledge is more informative. It reads as follows:[4]

"The art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by using modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, quality, time and cost, and participant satisfaction."

This definition is interesting because it raises the issue of "scope". Scope itself is problematic because it could be either or both of "project scope" and/or "product scope". "Project scope" speaks to the range of responsibility of the project manager. That is to say, the boundaries of the project that could be anywhere from simple time and cost parameters to interrogating all the principle stakeholders and analyzing the findings to establish what would make them satisfied in the end result.

Nevertheless, none of the definitions encompass responsibility for garnering any benefits that might accrue from making actual use of the "product, service or result". Therefore none reflect any worldview of the projects environment such as consequential beneficial business outcomes. In short, under these definitions, the project manager is not responsible for the subsequent use of the project deliverables. Indeed, these definitions do not even contemplate the correct or most suitable projects to undertake in the first place. So, by the same token, the project manager is not responsible for this part of the work either.

However, both of these statements may be nullified, but only if the work of either or both is specifically included in the project manager's terms of reference for a given project. In other words, these activities are not typical and must therefore be written into the project manager's charter in the first place. If all of this is true, then perhaps we should dig a little deeper. First consider Program Management.

Confusion Abounds  Confusion Abounds

3. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., PA, USA, 2013, Glossary, p554
4. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Project Management Institute, Inc., PA, USA, 1987, Glossary, p22
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