Project management has evolved from the ‘accidental profession’ of years ago – when no one actually planned to become a project manager, but just happened into the position – to a profession based on formalized bodies of knowledge, i. e. it has now become a discipline. As a profession, it has changed through the years and has produced many good project managers who have risen to higher levels, consulted world-wide, and often started their own organizations due to their broader understanding of business principles.
Within the project management profession, a manager quickly becomes well-known in a very short period of time; clients identify those project managers who are good and those who cannot perform well. Where project management was once merely an add-on to the role of a civil engineer or systems engineer, it is more commonly identified as a career choice in, and of itself today. The project management as a corporate field and profession has been described in the literature for more than fifty years. As a formal profession, it has been practiced in many different industries of society.
These processes and practices have been documented and disseminated over the past few decades to contribute to the evolving discipline. As technology and markets developed, organizations needed to bring new products to market on a more accelerated schedule. These products were often more complex and development teams were more likely located at dispersed sites. While many who managed projects in the past did so without formal training, the marketplace demanded a higher level of skill among project managers. This need has largely driven the maturation of project management as a well-defined, international profession.
As project management receives more recognition as a profession with its body of knowledge and certification of professionals within the project management community, there is a continuing need to revise and define contemporary theory and practice. The primary objective of project management remains the attainment of all the project goals and objectives, keeping the constraints, such as, scope, quality, budget and time, in check in order to ensure that the process of project management is as effiecient as possible.
The secondary goal, however, remains optimization and integration of inputs in order to meet certain pre-defined objectives. This also highlights the fact that projects are carefully defined, and the resources that may be required for the project in their respective quantities is finalized. These resources may include people, money, space, motivation, materials, communication, energy, etc. Traditionally, however, there have been three main constraints which have been given importance by people and organizations engaging in project management activities.
These three constraints are time, cost and scope. Time required to produce a deliverable may be estimated using various techniques. One such method is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), where the work effort for each task is estimated and those estimates are rolled up into the final deliverable estimate. Similarly, tasks are also prioritized and dependencies between various deliverables are identified. All of this adds up to the formation of a project schedule. Similarly, cost plays a very important role when planning a project.
This may involve resource costs, labor and material costs, risks and how to minimize them,etc. Also the economic cost that must be considered, it includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated by variation to project cost estimates. This would be especially important for companies that hire temporary or employees on contract basis or even outsource their work. Scope of the project is one of the first things that has to be determined, and it is the basis for determining other feasibility factors. The scope of the project comprises of the requirements specified to achieve the end result.
The scope also defines what the project is supposed to accomplish overall and a specific account of what the end result should be like. Formalized Bodies Of Knowledge In Project Management (part 2) As project management has developed into a profession over the years, there have been several concerted efforts to document and describe the ‘body of knowledge’ for that profession. The two most widely known versions of this have been developed and promulgated by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Association for Project Management in the United Kingdom.
These bodies of knowledge are the subject of continuing debate and development within the profession. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) developed and distributed by the PMI (1996) structures project management into five groups of interrelated processes that occur throughout the project lifecycle (Dinsmore and Cabanis-Brewin 101). These are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing Processes (Blokdijk 42). The PMBOK is also categorized into nine knowledge areas: project integration, scope management, cost management, time management, human resources, communication, quality, risk and procurement (Charvat 64).
Each of the nine process described also fall under the five basic process groups. This leads to the creation of a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group. Each area has formally prescribed inputs, processes, outputs and tools. The prescriptions are intended to be generic and adaptable to different application areas, such as manufacturing, banking or IT, and also adaptable to the particular organizational context in which they are applied. The PMBOK is, thus, meant to offer a general guide to manage most of the projects on most occasions.
In addition to providing a variety of member services, a major objective of PMI is to advance project management as a profession. PMI has been recognized as an accredited standards developer by the American Standards national Institute (ANSI). The PMI has also set forth an initiative to the professional sector, i. e. all project managers should be PMP certified. As firms adopt this concept, they are pushing current and prospective employees to get their accreditation. The second widely known body for project management is the Association for Project Management (APM) in the United Kingdom.
The purpose of this organization is to develop and promote the professional disciplines of project and program management for public benefit. APM is the largest professional project management organization in Europe. The aim is to expand and promote project management across the world. It comprises of fifty two areas of knowledge which are required to manage a successful project. The use of APM body of knowledge is promoted through various publications and events. The APM also conducts a lot of research to enhance and improve its body of knowledge, along side it offers accredited training and qualifications to its members.
APM’s startegy revolves around five key areas, namely, knowledge, professional development, membership, international, governance and administration. APM has also come up with unique and innovative ideas, in order to take project management to another level. These include APM awards and conferences. For the past 15 years, APM Project management awards have been a constant source of inspiration and motivation for people involved in this process. The awards reflect the invaluable contribution project management and project managers make in all sections of society.
The finalists and winners attract national publicity for the next year and a deserved career boost as a result, both at business and at individual level (APM Project Management Awards 2008). Similarly, the APM Project Management Conference is an interactive forum, that plays a vital role in bringing together project management professionals and key decision makers across the public and private sector (The APM Project Management Conference). It aims to set out and debate key subjects on the national project management agenda (The APM Project Management Conference).