Title:  Project Management Knowledge as a Basis for Global Communication. Learning and Professionalism


Introduction | Background | Why Care? | Progress | Differentiation | Update
Descriptor Criteria | Where do APMAs fit? | Missing Opportunities
Development | Validation | Further Opportunities | Conclusions

APMA Differentiation

We talk a lot about scope, quality, time and cost, teams, risk and so on. Recently we've begun to talk more about 'success factors', but we talk very little about the work involved. Yet surely it is the process of successfully conducting the work to produce a successful product that is the ultimate aim of the project management process? So, for purposes of APMA differentiation, Shenhar and Wideman established a simple basic premise:

"For the project to be successful, different types of project work, associated with different types of product, need to be managed differently" (Shenhar 1997).

The distinguishing features of the work to produce the project's product seem to be governed by craft versus intellect (work), and tangible versus intangible (product). If the work under consideration represents the primary purpose (or work package) of the project, then this 2x2 matrix results in four basic types of project as follows.

  1. Tangible-Craft - Projects whose products are tangible and the result of craft work. Example most construction. We might label this group Classical Construction Projects (CCP)
    [Note: in Wideman's set of Issues and Considerations, this group is referred to as 'EngCon'.]

  2. Intangible-Craft - Projects whose products are intangible and the result of craft work. The main value of the product is intangible but the effort to accomplish it is effectively routine 'craft' work. Examples maintenance shutdown, update of a procedure. We might label this group Corporate Operational Projects (COP) [Admin]

  3. Tangible-Intellect - Projects whose products are tangible and the result of intellect work. The product is tangible but the main effort is intellectual. Examples - new invention, original art. We might label this group Product Development Projects (PDP) [NewProd]

  4. Intangible-Intellect - Projects whose products are intangible and the result of intellect work. The main value of the product is in its intangible content and which is the result of intensive intellectual work. Examples - new theory, new software, writing a book. We might label this group Research, Development Projects (RDP) [NewTech]

While the distinctions are clear, the examples and labels suggested could be arguable and subject to further examination of specific commonalities. It is interesting, however, that listed in this way from (a) to (d), these APMAs appear to align with environments of increasing technological risk to cost and schedule. That is, ranging from 'well established and relatively certain' to 'new ground and very uncertain'. Undoubtedly, different people's experience in different APMA environments accounts for much heated argument over what constitutes project management and what constitutes good practice.

Progress  Progress

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