Project Management

Evolution of Project Management

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I have been involved in some rather heated discussion on another site regarding Mr. Langley's proposed New PM Triangle and the need for our profession to be more business focused.

Mr. Langely is not the first one to advocate change in the way we need to approach project management. In his book "Value Driven Project Management, 2009" Harold Kerzner has said basically the same thing. Here are some quotes from this book.

"Today's projects are not necessarily as well defined and understood as projects in the past. ...As a result, the traditional theories of project management may not work well when applied to these new types of projects. We may need to change the way we manage and make decisions about projects. Business decisions and requirements may very well override technical decisions and requirements."

"Project management has evolved into a business process rather than a project management process."

"Today's project manager must be knowledgeable about both the business processes and project management processes to make the most appropriate and effective decisions in the best interest of the company and project."

I believe the point of both of these experts in the project management profession is simply that what worked in the past is no longer sufficient in today's business world. Both have recommended that we must do more that the traditional project management of the past. The types of complex, adaptive, non-linear projects, and increasingly complex nature of business require that the profession evolves to meet these demands. Our clients expect it and we need to meet the expectations of our clients.

Mr. Langley has not advocated that Technical Project Management, AKA, the "PM Triangle" scope, budget, and schedule be eliminated. He is advocating that this is no longer enough and should become a point on a more encompassing triangle, including business acumen and leadership.

These ideas are not the isolated thoughts of one or two experts in the profession but they come from the well of outcries from our constituents. It is the result of much research and information gathering focused on discovering what our constituents expect from us.

This is about bringing the value the business is now demanding from the project management profession. And if we do not meet their needs and their expectations our profession will go the way of the dinosaurs. Thinking we can continue to do business as usual isn't a viable option. And that is the point of Mr. Langley's statement:

"If we only speak the language of project management as in scope, time, and cost; then project management as a profession will fail today’s businesses..!"

The only objections I hear about these proposed changes in the profession are from project managers. Why are we not leading the charge on this? Why are we not looking to make ourselves as valuable as possible, our services indispensable to our constituents? We have just experienced a time when the preponderance of businesses are cutting back or eliminating their PMOs and project managers. I for one do not want our profession to be seen as overhead or an obstacle to success. And before everyone here jumps me on that, surveys show that this is the predominant view our constituents have of our profession.

I fail to understand why there is so much push back and at times, animosity, towards evolving our profession the meet the stated expectations and needs of our constituents, thus making our profession more valuable and desired.

Posted on: April 01, 2013 11:39 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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This article is very timely! My PMO is evolving toward not only providing governance over the technical aspects of project management but also owning the business processes around the portfolio, program and project management disciplines. It makes perfect sense - these activities are interwoven into the organization and cut across functional disciplines. For example, our portfolio, program and project management activities are nicely integrated with our product management methodology, our annual budgeting process, etc.

Nicole, it does make perfect sense. Projects exist throughout every organization, not just in IT. Project management is a way of doing business and as more companies realize the amount of resources and efforts that are expended on projects, it is more crucial to interweave all these activities together.

Thank you for your comment.

But I have to ask, did you really leave this comment at 4:21 AM? :)

Interesting and thought provoking arguments! I personally believe there are no static heuristics or rule of thumb when it is about managing people in the advent of evolutionary changes that are taking place around the world. Management style has to be always dynamic and adaptive to time and situation. Keeping aside the technical aspects of project management, I don''t see it differs much in the management aspects of projects.

Very timely and I agree with you. I think we are seeing the usual hiccups associated with any change.

Excellent point of view on project management requirements considering present project environment.
Thanks for sharing!!

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