Why Project Management: Part 1 by Robert Beman

First let’s talk about what a project is. Having been fortunate enough to have managed projects in Startups, Inc 500’s, Fortune 500’s, and public sector environments over the years, I have found the following to be a reasonable working definition of a project.

“A project is a grouped set of actions with a clear beginning and end, designed to meet specified challenges, usually requiring diverse talents and skills, with the objective of delivering desired and measurable benefits at the conclusion.”

Understanding Project Management

Understanding Project Management requires going back to business basics. Because vendors are continually trying to outsell one another and get a new service or product in our door, and because change is pervasive and increasingly rapid, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Now consider your competitive and political environment is continually changing under all the same influences, and there can be a sense that there is too much information, too many moving parts, and too much that can go wrong.

All this can lead to both a sense, and a reality, of chaos if we take on too much at once, or fail to manage it well. In short, a complete loss of focus. Whether you are surfing, skiing, driving a car, flying an airplane, or running a business; loss of focus can lead to disastrous consequences. This is why the cardinal rule for every pilot in the face of unplanned emergencies is “fly the airplane”! The corollary in business is “manage the business”. It sounds simple but when there is chaos all around, it can be a challenge to focus. Yet it is focus that will help you regain control and reach your destination.

Since focus is critical to a thriving and profitable business, most successful businesses will have guiding policies and operating procedures for recurring daily operations to assure that all the resources, capital assets and human resources are focused on a common goal.

These policies and procedures may or may not be documented well, but they are there, and for a small business to become scalable, they will need to become documented at some point. Successful senior executives and business owners understand this. They also understand that their thoughts, outlook, and attitude will influence the guiding force that shapes their organization daily.

This is important to consider because successful business owners and executives grasp this intuitively. They immediately comprehend the significance in the context of daily routine operations. These guiding principles are created and pruned continuously in light of the changing business environment and are critical to developing and maintain your competitive edge. So now let’s talk about Project Management.

Successful, growing businesses get where they are because one way or another they have honed their skills and risen above the competition through creativity, innovation, and relentless focus on fine tuning daily operations. These businesses are seldom static but evolving continuously.

Successful projects are also critical to the success of a business. The difference is that they are anything but regular and routine. As a result it is critical that these dynamic business processes be managed with care and a well thought out methodology. This is increasingly important as the cost of the project in terms of hardware, software, and most importantly, impact on business operations rises.

Part 2

Next time we will look at some major competing methodologies that each have ardent supporters who may not always agree with one another, and discuss why each has its place in the project management toolkit.