Project Management is the core operational/processing discipline for the project-driven industry.
Its basic principles, half a century old, are still very valid today. Under the light of the Value Management philosophy (more »), some new concepts have been appended to traditional Project Management. Also the Theory of Constraints has brought some new features into traditional PM.
Finally, Lean Thinking (more ») has taken all main Operational Disciplines under its umbrella.
The resulting, modern Project Management is what I call Lean Project Management (more »).
As far as the Manufacturing and Service Industries are concerned, Project Management is still rather unknown, even in its basic, traditional format.
This is particularly true in Small and Medium Manufacturing Enterprises and Service Establishments.
Which is a considerable draw-back, because both of them actually need to deploy basic PM in a number of situations. Like:
- Development of new products or new services
- Personalised "ad-hoc" products/services (special orders)
- Performance Improvement projects
- Organisational alterations/re-structures
- Physical alterations (enterprise's premises, logistics, factory layout, etc.)
- Special projects of any nature
The new-world SME needs to adapt rapidly to environmental changes. Routine and immobility are things of the past. This means going often into project work of some sort.
Project Management is therefore a vital issue. At least its basic principles should be known in any SME, and applied when the need arises.
So, what is Project Management?
Its definition sounds like:
Systemic management of an "undertaking" (the project) featuring: complexity - uniqueness - limited life cycle.
Aiming at transforming effectively and with total satisfaction a well defined objective into a result.
By means of a continuous, integrated and efficiency-driven process of planning and control of various resources, against inter-connected COST-TIME-QUALITY ties/constraints.
Respecting general, and administrative policies and procedures of the company, as well as its cultural principles.
And fully and consciously understanding and supporting the company medium and long terms objectives.
TIME, COST, QUALITY are the Project parameters. It's their equilibrium that makes a project successful, bringing satisfaction to all concerned parties.
That delicate balance is obtained only through the application of rigid PM principles. When those principles are lacking or absent, the equilibrium is lost. The final result of the project might be well different from the theoretical one......
When in a project:
- completion time is exceeded, or
- costs are over the budget, or
- quality results are below specifications, or
- completion time is respected but with extra costs, or
- quality results are up to standards but at the expense of time, or
- there is some dissatisfaction
the signals are clear: Project Management is lacking.
Other symptoms of poor/lacking PM include:
- Project start: slow, hesitant, difficult
- Project termination: long, painful, with hiccups
- Personnel turnover
- Efforts: duplicated
- Inadequate utilisation of resources
- High level of contingencies - unforeseen/unexpected events
- Stress, pressure, anxiety, inadequacy, de-motivation.....
- Lack of flexibility, frequent mis-understandings, poor communication...
- Tendency to "pass the buck"....
- and many others
The medicine is simple and straight-forward: healthy, solid Project Management methods (more »).