What is Project Management?

An alternative view

What is Project Management?

An alternative view

What is project management? Well, perhaps it’s becoming harder to answer that question.

The number and range of projects in our organisations means that project management is no longer about a few experts, schooled in the art and science of a specialist subject. In another article we have already tried to define project management as:

the planning organising and controlling of resources, to successfully complete a specific project, by meeting the original objectives set.

In this article we take a look at an alternative perspective. We explore how our view of project management might be changing, and how we can all make the most of these possible changes.

So, what is project management? More and more managers would include managing projects as a part of their job description. This is because project-based organisations are becoming more common. Even in traditional, bureaucratic organisations projects are more commonly seen as part of every manager’s job. With trends towards flatter structures, and the need for more responsiveness and adaptability, project management skills are something for all managers to develop.

When Projects and the “Day Job” Blur

Although it may not have been included in traditional definitions of their roles, project management is becoming a core competence for all managers. This involvement in projects can include simply being a project team member, acting as an enabler (setting up a project for others to manage), or actually managing projects in person.

What is project management?However, not everyone would agree that there are significant differences between the two types of management role. Is there really such a blurring between the manager’s day job and project management responsibilities? Tom Peters’ perspective is that almost everything we do can be thought of as a project. He goes further than that. Peters says managers should consciously think that way. Why?

If you asked Peters the question: what is project management, he’d likely relate it to a classical perspective, perhaps managing a task that has a beginning and an end, as well as deliverables along the way. Interestingly though, Peters talks about finding “WOW” projects – special projects, or those with real significance. He also talks about turning what you do in your day job into “WOW” projects. He then adds that a WOW project should have goals and objectives that inspire you and inspire others. It’s this idea of inspiration that makes the idea of viewing all management tasks as projects so intriguing.

Taking this view of project management may require you to re-frame how you think about your day job. Often of course there isn’t a choice about the projects you are asked to manage, or even the routine work you are asked to perform. That may be so, but you do have the choice to re-frame the way you feel about such work. Take that insignificant project and make it something special. Perhaps something with which you can build your own track record.

What is Project Management? Is it the Day Job?

Seeing what we do as projects can be helpful in a number of ways:

  • Projects, because they have a beginning and end, can be something we focus on – making our day job more focused.
  • Projects have clients or people for whom you are delivering.
  • Thinking of routine tasks as projects helps give what you do a client focus (whether the client is external or a person or group within your organization).
  • Projects often have an exhilaration factor and can be exciting to be involved in.
  • Improve your negotiation and persuasion skills. More and more we have to negotiate people’s time and support anyway in our day jobs.
  • Think about how you can enlist people to work with you on your project.
  • Find or re-shape projects so that they show the value that you add.

What is project management? Well, perhaps for managers it’s actually becoming the new day job!

Managing Projects and Change

This is one of the articles and tips in our managing change series. For some practical tips on how to manage change, look at our great-value guides (below). These include some excellent tools to help you change yourself, and manage change at work.

The best way to use these is to buy our Managing Projects and Change bundle, available from the store. We’ve bundled together five e-guides, available at half the normal price!

Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. Then change it – on time, in budget!

5 guides, 136 pages, 25 tools, for half price!

Looking for more management resources?

Try our great value e-guides

What a terrific resource site!

I am currently producing learning materials to support the Institute of Leadership and Management’s VRQ at Level 4 and would like to incorporate some of your stuff into the workbooks.

Tony - UK

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