This research paper has been prepared with a view to advancing the body of project management knowledge.
Published here December 2003.

Introduction | Why Model? | Early Eighties | Late Eighties
The Nineties | Models in the New Century | Summary


If the illustrations I have shown can be accepted as evidence, then project management has clearly come a long way since the 1970s. For example, judging from the mind map in Figure 14, the subject is now much more comprehensive. Conceivably it could still be expanded further by such potential additions as stakeholder management, cash flow management, data management, document storage and retrieval management, management of cultural differences, and even vocabulary management as implied in Figure 13. With a little imagination, and research reading, one could add several more, such as critical chain buffer management,[27] customer relations management, issues management, public relations management, and even knowledge management[28] itself - the list seems almost endless. So, how best to depict project management graphically is problematic and depends partly on the purpose of the illustration. Hence, it is essential to specify the purpose.

The write-up to Figure 14 is fairly clear in this regard. It is viewed from the perspective of the project manager and what that person should know to be able to perform a competent job. To some extent it shows relative importance of content by assembling major topics with secondary subject content. This may not satisfy "experts" in particular subject areas such as scheduling or earned value as they would see this as a reduction in rank of their favorite subjects.

But by the same token, are we aiming high enough? If project management is to succeed as pervasively as projects have now become, it must capture the attention and imagination of senior executives. Their perspective is quite different as the grayed areas in Figure 14 begin to suggest. What would the illustration look like from that perspective?

Hence, what we see over the years is a steady progression from an internal project focus to a much broader strategic view and clearly there is still plenty to learn in the latter area. For example, with the increased recognition of the importance of project portfolio management, the strategic design of the project organization's life span phase controls, i.e. the executive controls, become increasing significant. However, what we also see in the succession of illustrations are a number of promising avenues abandoned without further consideration.

For example, I believe that to understand what project management is, what it does and how it works (which is where I started), understanding the relationships between the various elements is vital. I also believe that the commitment to delivery between the project management team and the project sponsor, owner or client as suggested in Figure 12, is the compelling rationale for project management. And further, that this commitment must be conducted consistent with a rational project life span.

And what about the proper definition of the management process and its integration with each of the specialist functions through the project life span as implied in Figure 2? As suggested in Figure 4, the combination of scope and quality is recognized as "performance". Similarly, cost and time are recognized as effort, but what about scope and cost as viability, or quality and time as competitiveness?

As Forsberg, Mooz and Cotterham have observed:

"Of all the project management concepts, Lessons Learned from prior failures and successes is the most neglected."[29]

It appears that this observation applies equally to the modeling of project management and the challenge is to examine past works more thoroughly to ensure that we are building on what we have rather than perpetually reinventing the wheel!

Project Management Models in the New Century  Project Management Models in the New Century

27. Sood, S., Taming Uncertainty, PMNetwork, Project Management Institute, March 2003, p57.
28. PM Perspectives, PMNetwork, Project Management Institute, May 2003, p2 & 33.
29. Forsberg, K., H. Mooz & H. Cotterham, Visualizing Project Management: A Model for Business and Technical Success, 2nd Edition, Wiley, NY, 2000, p5.
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