So what is project management anyway?

For those of us who have worked with the term project management for many years it seems obvious…

But it is the first question I get asked when I say that I help people and companies to get project management right,

And it is the first question I work on with groups during training sessions,

So maybe it is not that obvious.

Interestingly the APM (Association of Project Management) are in the process of reviewing the requirements for their membership, and are looking to move away from requiring project managementexperience to a requirement for project delivery experience.

The problem is one of scale, complexity and of course, job title!

Organisations use different words to label those people who support or lead the delivery of work which is not “business as usual” type work. And of course there is a hierarchy involved in all this.

In a discussion with my dad last night it turns out that Rolls Royce, the one which makes aeroplane engines, do not have any project managers, only programme managers. But of course this is the view of someone working at the very highest level of strategic management.

There is an ongoing debate on one of the many project management Linkedin groups as to whether project management is a profession or not…

My view is that it can be… but does not have to be…

There are of course people who do the job of managing projects and nothing else, and I would argue therefore that they are professional project managers.

There are also many professionals who as part of their busy lives as, HR managers, Production managers, Sales directors, Marketing professionals, etc, etc, etc, also have to manage the delivery of those pieces of work which do not class as “business as usual” and can therefore be classed asprojects.

Are these people not also project managers?

In order to clarify I call these people “accidental” project managers – they come to the role by virtue of their experience and skill in the field relating to the work to be delivered.

However there is nothing accidental about the delivery of a successful project.

Whether a professional project manager or not, most of us at some point will need to deliver a piece of work which is not “business as usual”, and which includes constraints on resources and time, and which needs to deliver something we have agreed with the end user or customer.

And for these pieces of work a structured approach will help to improve the efficiency and quality of the delivery and the deliverable…

And that is project management

“But just how structured do we need to be?”  I hear you cry…

Well that, is a whole other question…!