Project management is one phrase commonly flaunted by many workers in engineering, software and technical-related fields. Unfortunately, some of these project practitioners often have misconception about the meaning of the same topic. Hence, the need to share useful knowledge about project management. But before we delve deep into the topic, let's first understand the words that make up the phrase 'project management'.
A project is a unique and temporary endevour undertaken to create a final deliverable, which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits. Projects are considered unique not because it is impossible for two or more products, infrastructures or services to look similar but very often the knowledge, skills, talent, technology, time and budget deployed to create these projects may not necessary all be the same.
In addition, the transient nature of a project is defined by the finality of its deliverables. What this implies is that once the objectives of a project as highlighted in the project plan is achieved, it is usually unnecessary and sometimes unacceptable to continue with any other work packages (or activities) unrelated to the project, since this may lead to scope creep. Simply stated, most projects always have final deliverables, which are often constrained by finite timeline and budget.
The next word is management. In its most fundamental term, management is the process of getting things done efficiently and effectively through people in line with organisational objectives. Consequently, when we make people “do things right” as well as make them “do the right things”, management is simply playing itself out, even without some of us realizing it. It does not always require a ‘manager’ blaring out instructions to subordinates. According to John Tracy in They is We; Them is Us: Life Lessons from a Career in Project Management, a subordinate may sometimes find it necessary to Manage his Manager when he demonstrates the need.
Now back to the question, what is project management? Having established what project and management are all about, it appears easy to infer a consensus meaning to project management. However, different scholars still hold different opinions about what project management is about.
But one definition that has espouse intellectual debate amongst practitioners is that contributed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”. It is the initiation, planning and control of a range of activities required to deliver an end-product or a result. Interestingly, the end-products or results of most projects usually effect some changes for the benefit of the organisation that instigated them.
In conclusion, project management involves applying specific knowledge, skills, tools and technology to initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control the way new initiatives or changes are implemented within an organisations or in a society.
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