We are well aware of the many and varying nuances arising from different definition
wordings, but it is the intent, rather than the detail, that we are concerned
with here. For more on this topic, please refer to the Introduction to the Wideman Comparative Glossary of Common Project Management Terms.
In general usage, there appears to be some ambiguity when it comes to the use
of the words "principles and practices". Moreover, in the marketplace generally,
the term "principle" appears to be used indiscriminately to mean either.
Webster defines a "Principle" as "a general truth, a law on which others are
founded or from which others are derived; provides a guide to conduct or procedure
Cleland and Kerzner go further in defining "Principle" as follows:
- A fundamental rule or law of action based upon desirable ends or objectives.
A principle is more basic than a policy or a procedure and generally governs both.
- A fundamental truth, or what is believed to be truth at a given time, explaining
relationships between two or more sets of variables, usually an independent variable
and a dependent variable; may be descriptive, explaining what will happen, or
prescriptive (or normative), indicating what a person should do. In the latter
case, principles reflect some scale of values, such as efficiency, and therefore
imply value judgments.
Webster defines "Practice", on the other hand, as "customary use, method or
art of doing anything ...". Cleland and Kerzner do not include a definition for
Thus, "Practice" is a way of doing things and "Principles" and "Practices"
may be distinguished by the difference between "What" and "How". In Cleland and
Kerzner's second definition there appears to be some overlap perhaps reflecting
the confusion evident in the marketplace.
At first glance it would appear that the use of the qualifier "First" with
"Principle" is redundant. However, in scientific circles, the idea of First
Principles is a common concept describing root or axiomatic ideas that provide
the absolutely essential foundations for further thought and analysis. Since we
are interested here in the very origin of project management, we use the term
First Principle advisedly.
There are many and varying definitions of the term project. For our
purposes: "A project is a novel undertaking to create a new product
or service the delivery of which signals completion. Projects are typically constrained
by limited resources." Also for our
purposes, such a project is viewed from the perspective of the owner or sponsor
of the project. It begins when the sponsor dedicates resources to the project's
specific objectives, commencing with activities such as Idea Development; Concept
Exploration; Proposal Writing; Inception or Conception, etc.
Project Life Span
Typically, but in our view incorrectly referred to as project life cycle,
a well-managed project is essentially
a project management process that progresses in an orderly fashion through its
individual and logical life span. This project life span starts
with a concept that is justified by a Business Case. This Business
Case is an essential documentation that establishes the justification for
the project in the first place and drives the process through the subsequent phases
to the finished product. A typical, generic life span is illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Typical generic high-level project life span
Product Scope, typically but loosely just referred to as scope,
is used in the narrower sense of "The definition that describes the project's
product deliverables". This is not
the same as the Scope of Work that describes "The work involved in the
design, fabrication and assembly of the components of a project's deliverable
into a working product". The term
product includes the delivery of a service.
We use the term Quality Grade to distinguish it from the term Quality
which is typically taken to mean "The totality of features and characteristics
of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied
needs". Quality Grade on the
other hand is "A particular attribute of an item, product or service, which meets
all minimum project requirements but which may be delivered according to a class
ranging from "utility" (purely functional) to "world class" (equal to the best
of the best)". As such, Quality
Grade is a separate variable. It is also the most enduring in terms of product
Project Stakeholders and Constituents
Project stakeholders are sometimes segregated into stakeholders
and constituents. The former are those that are the direct recipients of
the product of the project while the latter are those that are indirectly affected
by the results of deploying the product. However, rather than project stakeholders
and constituents, we would much prefer the use of the more focused terms customer
and community. The resulting product's customer is its immediate
recipient, the person who will use the product and is therefore in the best position
to evaluate its acceptability after a suitable period of learning. The customer
may be more than one person. Community, on the other hand, includes anyone who
is impacted by project activities or its product, either directly or indirectly
and for better or worse.
9. See maxwideman.com/pmglossary/intro.htm
10. The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language
11. Cleland, David, & H. Kerzner, A Project Management Dictionary
of Terms, Van Nostrand, New York, 1985, p187.
12. See the definition in the Wideman Comparative Glossary of
Project Management Terms: project
13. See the definition in the Wideman Comparative Glossary of
Project Management Terms: well
14. Centre for Research in the Management of Projects (CRMP),
University of Manchester, UK, 1999.
15. Turner, R. Interpreted from the Gower Handbook of Project
Management, 3rd. Edn, Ch 1.
16. ISO 8402, International Organization for Standardization,
Geneva 20, Switzerland.
17. Project Management Guidelines (Private BC Corporation), 1995.