On this beautiful day, let us try to understand what project management really is.
Project management, then, is the application of knowledge, skills, and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It’s a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals — and thus, better compete in their markets. – PMI.org
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. – wikipedia.org
The planning and organization of an organization’s resources in order to move a specific task, event or duty toward completion. Project management typically involves a one-time project rather than an ongoing activity, and resources managed include both human and financial capital. – investopedia.com
They are all wrong…
Ok sort of… The most important element that these definitions lack is the mention of people – not resources.
I am of the opinion that project managers (at least initially) are intimidated with the technical complexities, budgets, timelines and contracts that they forget the single most important element of project management – The People.
Because projects are temporary, external to existing organizational hierarchy and constrained in some way, the people involved in the project are “cut off” from their usual organizational support, referencing and reporting structures. This may lead to them experiencing emotions like exclusion, abandonment, isolation, and loneliness.
Different people-centric approaches exist in many other professions and industries. Project managers can benefit significantly by changing the focus of how they view their project as shown above.
But who are all these people that a project manager now has to look after? Does the project manager have to treat them differently?
These people are called stakeholders. Each individual group needs to be considered, managed and communicated to in a way that would enhance the probability of project success. To illustrate the concept, I would use the picture shown above and provide a simplistic sample of the questions that one has to ask to “shape” how they should be treated.
- Sponsors – The people paying for the project. Obviously displaying to them how the project is converting their money (resources) into the value they were seeking is vital. People in this group would generally assist in any way they can to ensure the success of the project – So ask them if you need something, show them progress and deliverables.
- Vendors & Suppliers – They provide goods and services (resources), that you procure in some way, which is needed to successfully complete the project. They could be distant and uninvolved through to full collaboration partners dependent on the success of the project – Figuring out who they are, and how they fit in, will go a long way in gathering allies.
- Customers – They will be using the product of the project. They will be the people who will determine the overall or long term success of the project – Making sure that they partake in the delivery and evolution of the product in such a way that it will enhance their lives is VERY important.
- Project Team & Performing Organisation – They are the resources referred to in the project definitions, the alienated souls that perform the actions to convert money into value. If you can get these people operating in a motivated and successful team, your life will change for the better – They have to be close to the action, know what is going on, what is happening next and have an honest view of how things are going.
- General Public – Not all projects involve the public at large, but there are always the onlookers, spectators, peripherally affected and curious individuals who will influence how others perceive the project. Including these people (that fall outside of the circle as shown above) can yield extremely positive results – If they are affected by the project in any way, consideration of these effects would assist in shaping communications and management.
So what am I saying?
If you treat the people like they are your most important resource…. Your projects (and your life) will make a significant turn to the positive.
If you win the minds and hearts of the people, you will get their hands and labor for free.
– I tried to source the origin of this or a similar quote, but have been unsuccessful.
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