Friday, 10 February 2012

Why Project Management isn't enough

Bring out the methodology fascists! Hooray for them. No matter what nut you've got to crack, they'll scrum it, and they'll risk log it, they'll stand it up and they'll document it. Is there nothing the mighty Gantt chart can't conquer?

Building a website? Agile beats PRINCE2. Got multiple stakeholders? Maybe back to stage-and-gate. Don't worry. Nobody needs to worry. We've got a methodology that'll make us all safe.

OK, OK, that's an unfair caricature of Project Management. Tracking, co-ordination, collaboration, sticking to a plan, adapting that plan and good communication are all essential for stopping the lifeblood of a project from freezing to wearying sludge.

But there is something missing from that formula - without which a project will happily march into a cul de sac of frenziedly pointless activity.

Here it is: a plan should always precede methodology - and should be able to supercede it too.

What's more, plans change. That's good. They evolve. They improve. That's an advantage.

Methodology provides tools to make stuff happen. That's all: methodology is a toolset. Just because you've got a drill, you don't have to make holes in everything. Apply the right tool to the task. Be flexible.

Great Project Managers know that - of course. But it's all too easy for all of us to get lulled into a false sense of purposefulness. Surely we need to be doing stuff? And quickly too! Surely that's better than all this nebulous thinking and talking and deviating from the plan that seemed fine last week??

Project Management is about ensuring that a team of people are managed around a central purpose. That purpose is to complete a great project. That's all. Don't seek solace in anything else.

Great ideas emerge. They're not available until someone's had them. And when they do emerge, gather round everyone, let's act on them as best we can. And that, in particular, is why projects need to be managed.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" John Maynard Keynes (1883 - 1946)

1 comment:

  1. Yeah its a
    good article. According to you what we project managers do is communicating.
    And a lot of this communication is done during project meetings. It can
    sometimes feel like you are running from one meeting to another and that your
    time is often wasted. Meetings don’t start on time, the issues aren’t dealt
    with, there is no agenda, there is no focus, nobody assigns any follow ups or
    tasks and of course then they also don’t end on time. An efficient project manager is required for the good management of a project. I think a project manager should
    PMP certified. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP classes in
    my company.