What´ s all the fuss about, anyway? Since the first edition of this book was published in
1995, the project management institute (PMI®), The professional organization for
people who manage projects, has grown from a few thousand members to a
membership of more than 75,000 persons. In 2000 its membership grew by about 30
A professional association? Just for project management? Isn´ t project management
just a variant on general management? Yes and no. there are a lot of similarities, but
there are enough differences to warrant treating project management as a discipline
separate from general management. For one thing, projects are more scheduleintensive
than most of the activities that general managers handle. And the people in
a project team often don´ t report directly to the project manager; they do report to
most general managers
So just what is project management, and, for that matter, what is a project? To
begin, a project is a multitask job that has performance, cost, time, and scope
requirements and that is done only one time. If it is receptive, it´ s not a project. A
project should have definite staring and ending points (time), a budget (cost), a
clearly defined scope-or magnitude-of work to be done, and specific performance
requirements that must be met. I say " should" because seldom does a project
conform to the desired definition. These constrains an a project, by the way, are
referred to throughout this book as the PCTS targets.
Dr. J. M. Juran, the quality guru, also defines a project as a problem scheduled for
solution. I like this definition because it remind me that every project is conducted to
solve some kind of problem for a company. However, I must caution that the word
problem typically has a negative meaning, and projects deal with both positive and
negative kinds of problems. For example, developing a new product is a problem, but
a positive one, while an environmental cleanup project deals with a negative kind of
The Standish group (www.standishgroup.com) has found that only about 17 percent
of all software projects done in the united states meet the original PCTS targets; 50
percent must have the targets changed-meaning that they are usually late and
overspent and need to have the performance requirements reduced-and the
remaining 33 percent are usually canceled. One year, the united states spent an
aggregate of more than $250 billion on software development, so this means that $80
billion was completely lost on canceled projects. What is truly astonishing is that 83
percent of all software projects get into trouble!
The Standish study reported here was conducted in 1994. in the February 2001 issue
of software development magazine, an ad for a software development conference stated that U.S. companies spend about $140 billion on canceled and over budget projects each year.
Now, lest you think I am picking on software companies, let me say that these
statistics apply to many different kinds of projects. Product development, for example,
shares similar dismal rates of failure, waste, and cancellation. Experts on product
development, for example, shares similar dismal rates of failure, waste, and
cancellation. Experts on product development estimate that about 30 percent of the
cost to develop a new product is rework. That means that one of every three
engineers assigned to a project is working full-time just redoing what two other
engineers did wrong in the first place!
The reason for this failures is consistently found to be inadequate project planning.
People adopt a ready-fire-aim approach in a n effort to get a job done really fast and
end up spending far more than necessary by reworking errors, recovering for
diversions down blind alleys, and so on. I am frequently asked how to justify formal
project management to senior managers in companies, and I always cite these
statistics. However, managers what to know whether using good project management
really reduces the failures and the rework, and I can only say you will have to try it
and see for your self, if you can achieve levels of rework of only a few percent using a
seat-of-the-pants approach to managing projects, then keep doing what you´ re doing!However, I don´ t believe you will find this to be possible.
The question I would ask is whether general management makes a difference. If we
locked up all the managers in a company for a couple of months, would business
continue at the same levels of performance, or would those levels decline? If they
decline, then we could argue that management must have been clearly been getting
in the way. I doubt that many general managers would want to say that thy do
doesn´ t matter. However we all know that there are effective and ineffective general
managers, and this true of project managers, as well.
Project management is facilitating the planning, scheduling, and controlling of all
activities that must be done to achieve project objectives. Those objective include the
PCTS targets mentioned previously. Notice that I say facilitation of planning. One
mistake made by inexperienced project management is to plan the project for the
team. Not only do they then get no buy-in to their plan, but also the plan is usually
full of holes. Managers can´ t think of everything, their estimates of task durations are
wrong, and the entire thing falls apart after the project begins. The first rule of project
management is that the people who must do the work should help plan it.
The role of the project manager is that of an enabler. Her job is to help the team
members get the work completed, to " run interference" for them, to get scare
resources that they need, end to buffer them from outside forces that would disrupt
the work. She is not a project czar. She should be-above everything-a leader, in the
true sense of the word. The best definition of leadership that I have found is the one
by vance Packard (1962). He says, " leadership is the art of getting others to want to
do something that you believe should be done." The operative word here is want.
Dictators get others to do things that they want done. So do guards who supervise
prison work, and that is a significant difference.
The planning, scheduling, and control of work is the management or administrative
part of the job. But without leadership, projects tend to just satisfy the bare minimum
requirements. With leadership. They can exceed those bare minimums.
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