Usually people will throw some definition taken from some well-known dictionary or encyclopaedia here. I like to make things simple.
Project management is about adding value by applying general management concepts into an environment – My Definition.
Most books will tell you that it is about balancing 3 different concepts – Time, Cost and Quality. This is true only if you consider the outcome of the project.
To attain or reach the outcome it is all about people (I prefer the term Humans – we sometimes forget).
There are a few main areas that I would like to highlight which are critical to successful management of ANY project.
This is the product that would result from the completion of the project.
Deliverables comes in many different guises – List, Construction, Software, Process, Knowledge or Productivity increase.
Unfortunately we strive to define these deliverables into quantifiable objects, but they seldom are. More often than not they are required to evoke some feeling, emotion or to comply with some desire. These are qualitative elements and we often miss this one crucial ingredient.
The clearer everybody involved with the project UNDERSTAND what the DESIRED product is, the higher the probability of success.
Most people understand this as the hard science of making sure that what you produce adds a value (directly attributable) that exceeds the sacrifices (Pure resource based measurement) made to produce it.
Cost is about more than money; it includes humans willing to forego time with their families, companies absorbing huge risk and effectively the trading of a time period with the specific aim to enhance.
Recognizing of all contributions to reach the outcomes openly and continuously instils a sense of the value to all associated with the project.
A quality statement like – This is a good car irrespective of its price – is just as valid as – If you consider its price, this is a good car.
Read it again – Nuance differences can mean a lot.
Getting a mutual agreement on what is the client’s perception of quality is the best medicine. This is the value that should be maintained in the project.
Seems almost straight-forward this one. Don’t be fooled, most projects deliver to a vast array of different clients (some of them may not be the ones paying you).
The recipients, consumers or users of the product or service delivered by the project are the most important client group. Usually the guys paying you will have a lot of say initially, but in the long run they will not be the ones that will describe the true value addition or success of the project.
Identify all the clients and engage with all of them – communication, communication and communication.
The crux of project management (in my mind) lives here. We tend to forget that project management is predominantly about humans. Therefore we tend to underestimate the value of human focussed management skills.
The human grouping construct of most projects will resemble some variation of the picture below. From this it should be seen that some project members will have “conflicting” loyalty, focus or priorities.
Understanding the interaction and relationship between groups as well as the internal dynamics of each group is critical to success.
Source – I built this!
I tend to end up thinking about these as non-human entities that are required to complete the project, work in progress (project product) and elements that require interaction from the project, but form part of the non-project production stream.
This includes time, money, equipment, logistics, processes (e.g. procurement), documentation and all the STUFF projects are made of.
Project management has a singular requirement – Use as little stuff as possible to attain the result.
This can be achieved by scheduling, planning, payment plans and whatever you need to do to reduce risk and consumption.
Believe it or not up to now we have only looked at the elements required to manage the project.
Only when all these elements have been addressed fully in principle (infrastructure exist to catch the content) can we expose it to what the project is supposed to do.
Content introduction should consist of filling in the blank forms that are the result of the above actions.
Many other words exist – Produce, Create, Develop, Manufacture, Design, Generate, Fabricate – only one counts.
Singularly the most important word in project management:
Have a great day.