PPM 301 - Project Management
Section 1. The Discipline of Project Management
This lesson introduces the student to the subject with an
overview of project management. Objectives
important to this lesson:
- Project success or failure
- A distinct and changing discipline
- Project management competence
- Project management philosophy
- Project life cycle
- Bodies of knowledge and certification
- Project management process
- Program management
The chapter begins by giving the student the frightening
impression that every paragraph in the text is numbered. It is not
quite that bad, but the authors take a very structured approach to
their subject and we will do what we can to benefit from that. Each of
the numbered items above is a sub-section of this chapter, so we have a
pretty good list of topics to consider.
The first point in the chapter is that we can watch out for
things that can make our projects successes
or failures. A good manager
should be aware that a success to one person may be a failure to
another if their expectations
are different. To reach agreement
on the success or failure of a project requires that we agree on some measures of success and failure. The
text recommends that we develop a set of performance standards at the outset
of a project by which we will measure it. The text also mentions that a
key factor in our
standards should be whether the customer
can effectively use the project and its results.
The text elaborates on some perceptions of a project from
different points of view:
- a user of the end
result of a project may only care about whether that end result works,
and may not care about the time it took to complete the project or the
final cost of
the project; compare this attitude with the perspective of an
accountant who is concerned about the time and expense of a project
that ran long past its planned completion date
- team member - the text
remarks that a project team member may call a project a success if that
person added or improved some skills by being part of it; this is a
point of view, unlikely to make that team member popular with the
- supplier - a supplier who makes a
sale and delivers a product as part of a project might consider the
success regardless of the quality of its results; this is more
understandable than the team member above, since product sales are the
of the supplier
- contractor - turning the last concept
around, a contractor whose bid on a project was not selected could
easily consider that his bid
was a failure; the text tells us that the
contractor might consider the project
a failure, but this seems a bit
text continues with a list of factors
that can contribute to or define successes
for a project. Not all factors will apply to every project:
- The project results
have been delivered and the customer agrees that they fit the mission, objectives, and goals of the customer's organization.
- The project phases have been completed on time and on budget.
- The entire project results have been completed on time and on budget.
- Stakeholders are
happy with the results of the
project and with the way it was managed.
Note that the idea of being happy with the management of the project is
separate from being happy with the results. We want the stakeholders to
have a good time during the project, not just at the end.
- Project team members
believe that being on the team was a valuable
- The project has resulted in profits for the customer.
- The project has produced technological
- Effective teamwork
was evidenced during the project.
- The project provided improved
business processes or new
business opportunities to the customer.
- The project used contemporary
management theory and practice.
At this point the student should pause, consider these points,
and score them. Arrange the ten points in the order from most important
to least important, according to your perspective at this time. See
assignment 1 below.
The text also provides a list of factors that can contribute to or
define failures for a project.
As above, not all factors will apply to every project:
- The project has overrun
its projected cost and/or schedule.
- The project does not fit
the mission, objectives, and goals of the customer's organization.
- The project has failed
to meet technical performance
- The project took too long
to complete and did not deliver results when they were needed.
- The project had inadequate
- A project result
was a failure due to a faulty design.
- Stakeholders are not happy with the results of the project and with the
way it was managed.
- Top management on
the customer side did not
regularly review and support
the project. This is important because the customer's organization must
be shown by their own leadership that the project is important.
- The project was staffed by unqualified
- The project did not
serve a long term goal.
More factors are listed on page 4, factors for failure at the top of the page, and factors for success at the bottom.
The text moves on to a discussion of the history of project
management. The student is first told that it goes back about sixty
years, then that it was practiced during the building of the pyramids
of Egypt. Regardless of the actual date of the first managed project,
we can assume that projects typically do better with project management
than they do without it.
There is a list of factors on pages 6 and 7 that we are told
are significant to the development of project management:
- The use of project management on famous projects, such as the Manhattan Project.
- The development of scheduling
tools, such at PERT, CPM, and Gantt charts.
- Defining projects as ad hoc endeavors with specific life cycles.
- Projects can be seen as tools for managing change in an organization.
- Recognition that projects typically cross over functional and organizational
The authors' point is that project management continues to
change. We could say that it has always been around, but it has changed
over time. It is more recognized now as a function of organizations
that is separate from their other business functions, but supportive of
The text continues on page 9 with a discussion of competence. In the context of
project management, we define competence as having three parts: knowledge, skill, and attitude.
Knowledge is divided
into several parts:
- Understanding the technology
of the project. The text presumes that most projects involve some kind
of technology change. If so, the project managers must understand that
- Understanding strategic
management as it relates to the future goals of the customer.
- Understanding project
- Understanding the mismanagement processes used in managing
the staff of a project, and its stakeholders.
- Understanding the use of the Project Management System
(PMS) being used for the project. This includes collecting data on the
organization and its functions, charting work breakdowns, monitoring
the progress of the project, selecting performance standards and rating
the project on them, and interfacing the management system with the
staff affected by the project and with their culture.
Skill comes in several
types as well:
skills matter because projects are run by, carried out by, and have
effects on people. You will need to be able to work with people and
skills come is several types: spoken,
written, and presentational communications are
examples. The text quotes Peter
Drucker, a noted management consultant and author, who thought that
communication skills may be the most important skills to have.
- The ability to see the
is an important skill because people who cannot or do not see outside
their particular area are going to fail to meet the needs of people
outside that area.
- Political sensitivity
is important for a project manager because there are always political
issues that intrude on projects. The text is talking about office politics,
the reality that some people, issues, and projects have both friends
and enemies. Enemies of a project or a project manager can ruin the
likelihood of success.
- The text says that management
is a skill. It seems to be talking about delivering results like a
professional, acting like a person who is leading others to a better
place. The text mentions that this includes showing sensitivity to the
needs of stakeholders, which leads to a better project outcome and to a
better rapport with people.
- Skill in building good
is useful when you are trying to create models that a new system design
has to follow. If you cannot model processes as they are and as they
are meant to be, you will not be able to guide staff to modify a system
or to create a better one.
The text breaks the third branch of competence into two
branches: attitude and behavior. We are told that a
toward what they are doing affects their work, affects how they are
perceived, and affects how their messages about their work are
perceived. A person's behavior
can be an expression of that person's attitude or an expression of
their professionalism. The text lists several behaviors that are
productive for projects:
- a manager appropriately delegates authority and
- a person accepts responsibility for his actions
- a manager or a team member consults with the team on key
- a person is considered a role model for the team
- each person communicates with everyone when needed
- a person defuses tension with humor
- each person shares credit for successes with everyone who
contributed to them
The text adds more concepts that reflect effective attitude
- authority - a good project manager develops skills and
knowledge that show authority in the area of work, not just what is
granted by management, but what has been earned by experience
- emotional intelligence - the skill of being able to manage
people, to act wisely in human relations, and to build and maintain a
team by managing your own and their emotional levels about a project
- individual competence - the text seems to loop back to the
beginning of the topic, stating only that competence is measured
differently in different organizations
The text states in part 1.4 that it is useful to develop a project management philosophy, a way
of thinking about the subject that will give us perspective on it. It
repeats the idea that projects can be tools for managing changes in organizations.
It may go a bit too far, saying that the projects themselves can be
used to change an organization. I begin to worry that the text is so
focused on project management that it may be forgetting that our
customer have businesses of their own to conduct.
Characteristics of projects:
- a project must contain statements about its costs, its schedule, and its technical performance capability
(what it can and will do)
- projects follow a life
- projects have core
Several core functions
of projects are described:
- planning - what
will the project accomplish?
- organizing - who
and what will be needed for the project?
- motivating - how do
we get our staff to do their best on the project; how do we get the
customer's staff on board with the project? (This is the component that
I have seen ignored the most.)
- directing - moving
the project forward by making sure decisions are made and carried out
- control - managing
the project by getting feedback on its activities and adjusting them as
The text expands on the Planning and Organizing functions on
pages 20 through 23. Students should read through these pages and
discuss who should be involved in these processes on a discussion
thread I will create for this purpose. See assignment 2 below.
The text rambles for a couple of pages then starts to discuss benefits of project management again. Unfortunately,
this time it is talking about the benefits of having projects for
people who run the projects. Let's move ahead to more interesting
Beginning on page 29, the text discusses a Code of Ethics for the Project Manager, developed by the Project Management Institute.
The text attempts to explain that the code allows for cultural and
regional differences from one country to another and from one culture
to another. The code itself is available at the web site behind the
link in this paragraph. It is laid out in series of topics, points, and
subpoints, so give yourself a few minutes to read it and make sense of
On page 33, the text begins a discussion of the project life cycle.
This is a bit of a misnomer because projects typically have a
beginning, an end, and parts in between, but they typically are not
repeated. Repeating a series of steps makes it more of a process than a
The text presents the life cycle of a project as a series of
five phases, sort of like a person going from infant to toddler to
child to adolescent to adult.
- conceptual - proposals are evaluated to determine whether they should
- definition - projects are defined in terms of objectives, costs, resource requirements, performance, and monitoring
- production - results of the project are produced and
delivered; this phase includes testing and adapting the results to fit
- operational - if the results meet all goals, they may be integrated into the organization as ongoing parts of it
- divestment - the results of the project are no longer effective for our organization, so they are phased out
The text discusses project management certification
for several pages, and lists four certification bodies, whose authority
seems to be linked to their countries of origin. Like most technical
certifications, this kind of certification is either required by your
employer or not, or recognized by your employer or not. It is best to
obtain the kind of certification you need for your intended job, rather
than choosing one by its description in a book.
For another five pages the text does little but repeat what it has already said. Okay.
The text decides to cloud our minds with a new concept on page 49. Sometimes several projects are started that can be related under a common banner. The common connector can be called a program.
The establishment of a program can be a way of giving management
oversight to someone who can then be responsible for the outcomes of
all the related projects. The text says this in several ways, but that
is the essence of the last few pages in the chapter.