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 see the PM
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,
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
Cleland and Kerzner go further in defining 'Principle' as follows:
1. 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.
2. 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 this term.
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 purpose, such a project is viewed from
the perspective of the 'owner' or 'sponsor' and begins when resources are dedicated
to its specific goal, commencing with activities such as 'Concept Exploration',
'Initiation' or 'Inception', etc.
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' which 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 project success.
Project success is a multi-dimensional construct
that inevitably means different things to different people. It is best expressed
at the beginning of a project in terms of key and measurable criteria upon which
the relative success or failure of the project may be judged. For example, those
- Meet key objectives of the project such as the business objectives of the
sponsoring organization, owner or user, and
- Elicit satisfaction with the project management process, i.e. that the deliverable
is complete, up to standard, is on time and within budget, and
- Reflect general acceptance and satisfaction with the project's deliverable
on the part of the project's customer and the majority of the project's community
at some time in the future.
Project success is closely linked to opportunity and risk. Projects by their
nature are risky endeavors and some project hazards cannot be entirely avoided
or mitigated even when identified. Since project success may be impacted by
risk events, it follows that both opportunity and risk are necessarily shared
amongst the participants.
It is also important to note that success criteria can change with time. That
certain objectives were not achieved does not necessarily mean that the project
was a failure.
Project Customer and Project Community
Rather than project stakeholders and constituents, we prefer the more focused
terms 'customer' and 'community'. Project Customer is the immediate recipient
of the product of the project, who will use it and is in the best position to
evaluate its acceptability after a suitable period of learning. The 'customer'
may be more than one person. Project Community includes anyone who is impacted
by project activities or its product, either directly or indirectly and for
better or worse.
4. The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary
of the English Language.
5. Cleland, David, & H. Kerzner, A Project Management
Dictionary of Terms, Van Nostrand, New York, 1985, p187.
6. Centre for Research in the Management of Projects
(CRMP), University of Manchester, UK, 1999.
7. Turner, R. Interpreted from the Gower Handbook
of Project Management, 3rd. Edn, Ch 1.
8. ISO 8402, International Organization for Standardization,
Geneva 20, Switzerland.
9. Project Management Guidelines (Private BC Corporation),
10. Shenhar, Aaron J., Dov Dvir and Ofer Levy, Project
Success: A multidimensional Strategic Concept, Research paper, University of
Minnesota, MN, June 1995.
11. This is a composite of ideas reflected in various
success factors and indicators quoted in the Wideman Comparative Glossary
of Common Project Management Terms