Project Management Simply Explained - A Logical Framework to Help Your Understanding
 

 From original notes assembled to author A Framework for Project and Program Management Integration, Project Management Institute, 1991

Published here March, 2001

Introduction | PMBoK | Sequence | LifeCycle | Hierarchy
Variables
 | Tetrad Trade-off | Success

Introduction

First, why do we need project management anyway? Projects are about change and we are certainly experiencing a lot of that! According to Cooke-Davies: "Growth, change and projects go together. We face an increasingly turbulent world in which business becomes faster paced more complex and more competitive. In this environment the rewards will go to those organizations which are more flexible, more in tune with their customers' wants, more focused on their main product or service, and more professional in every aspect of their business."[2]

Modern project management is designed specifically to deal with this situation. With flexible project teams and resources focused on the needs of the enterprise, project-based planning and implementation enables the alignment of corporate effort with corporate strategy. Managing by projects helps not only to accomplish this goal but also to develop those qualities of initiative and effectiveness that senior management must have if it is to survive in the future. Indeed, two of the largest project management organizations in the world, the Project Management Institute (US) and the International Project Management Association (Europe), share the same strong perception of project management. That is, the creative concept of project management is universal and generic, crosses all cultural, national and linguistic barriers, and that many of the problems inherent in creating change or adapting to change are common to all.[3]

Some corporate cultures are much more supportive of project working than others. Top managers who plan to introduce the project management discipline, or who wish to improve existing project performance, must pay attention to cultural, structural, practical and personal elements. Project management demands quality information, discipline and goal-orientation and requires team-working skills, rather than rigid functional divisions. Its primary focus is on what has yet to be done, and who will do it, rather than the achievements of the past. It is as much about mobilizing the energies of diverse team members as it is about procedures, tools and techniques.

For the benefits of project management to be realized, it has been suggested that three principle ingredients must first be in place. These are:[4]

  • Support from senior management
  • Agreement and commitment at the level of responsibility; and
  • A willing acceptance at the level of impact.

As Konosuke Matsushita, Executive Director of Matsushita-Electric observed in comparing Western and Japanese management styles: "... for us, the core of management is precisely the art of mobilizing and pulling together the intellectual resources of all employees ... only by drawing on the combined brain power of all its employees can a firm face up to the turbulence and constraints of today's environment." In other words, the leaders of the organization must be committed to the concepts of project management and its application and be willing to establish the necessary organizational culture for it to germinate and grow.[5]

Project managers are sometimes selected for the depth of their technical competence alone. This can be a mistake. Certainly, he or she must have a good understanding of the technical nature of the project in hand to be able to separate real issues from vested interests. But the primary areas of competence required by every project manager include communication; the ability to get the best out of the real specialists; and planning, forecasting and decision-making skills the very stuff of future senior management!

 

1.   From original notes assembled to author A Framework for Project and Program Management Integration, Project Management Institute, 1991
2.  Abstracted from T. Cooke-Davies, Return of the Project Managers, Management Today, BIM, UK, May 1990
3.  Agreement between the Project Management Institute and the International Project Management Association dated October 16,1990, p3
4.  A. S. Humphreys, Business Planning and Development Inc., BIM (UK) Report, June 1986, p81
5.  D. I. Cleland, Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation, Tab Books, Inc., PA, 1990, p53

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