The discipline of project management can be compared to a set of woodworking tools. Both are designed for specific purposes. And both are capable of amazing results in the hands of a master. Every project needs a project manager who, performs the functions of project management. It is a role that can be fulfilled in a few hours a week on small projects or spread among many people on very large projects.
But this role cannot be defined purely in terms of the functions of project management or the project management tool set. It must also be understood that the primary responsibility of a project manager is to lead all the stakeholders—the customers, management, vendors, and project team—and encourage them to work together during the course of the project.
Bringing a project to a successful conclusion may require every technique in this book, but none of these techniques will be enough unless the manager wants to lead. The project manager is the catalyst—the initiator who lifts the entire project and puts it into motion. As you learn the techniques presented here, never forget that it is your energy and attitude that gives them power!
Projects differ from the ongoing operations of a firm in that they are temporary and unique. These qualities mean that factors like personnel management, lines of authority, budgeting, accounting controls, and communication need to be handled differently in the project environment. The project management techniques discussed in this book have evolved to meet these challenges.
Modern project management evolved from the giant defense projects during and after World War II. These endeavors were so enormous that normal management techniques proved inadequate. In addition to technical knowledge, managers of projects came to need business skills and the new skills related to managing temporary and unique projects. Project management techniques have now become industry-independent, even though each project manager must have skills specific to his or her industry.
Successful projects deliver a high-quality product on time and on budget. Project managers, however, need to be aware that everyone involved in a project—all the stakeholders—must agree on what success means.
Managing expectations is one of the main jobs of a project manager. Success depends on the manager guiding the project through four stages in its life cycle: definition, planning, execution, and close-out.
One of the reasons for the present popularity of projects is the growing number of new products. Product development employs a process roughly similar to that of projects; the differences are that a product development life cycle describes the work required to create the product, while a project life cycle focuses on managing the work.
This need for new projects has brought about the creation of companies organized around doing projects—project-oriented organizations.