Redefining Project Management (Introduction)

We recently had the honor to have Mr. R. Max Wideman[1] publish a guest paper for us with the title, Redefining Project Management. Mr. Wideman also took the time to edit our paper, which we greatly appreciate. We will publish this paper through a series of blog articles. This is first article in the series. This series of articles are also part of an upcoming book that we will share in due time.

Introduction to Redefining Project Management

Background

We base our observations in this series of articles on interactions with project management practitioners, online discussion groups, as well as surveys and polls that we have conducted in the past. It has been quite clear to us that a large number of project management practitioners do not understand (or at least misunderstand) some of the key concepts in project management.

We do not claim to be THE authority on this subject but we know that what we share with you here will be in line with what you know (for some) but challenge the conventional wisdom for others, even may change your paradigm in regard to project management and the PMBOK® Guide[2]

Redefining-Project-ManagementWhy Redefining

So our first action in this paper is to explain the title, why Redefining?

The quick and simple answer is the following.

We think that some of the common project management terms used in the practice (domain, field …) of project management are not well defined, or there are different definitions depend on the source of the information. As a consequence, the outcome of this lack of clarity is starting to damage the field of project management[3]. We realize that many would not agree with this statement, which is why, in this series of articles, we want to challenge the conventional wisdom and trigger some reflection on what we are about to present.

Contributing Factors

Expanding on the above answer, in our humble opinion, project management thought leaders and professional associations have done a great job in defining project management and by ‘redefining’ we have no wish to undermine their work. Nevertheless, the challenges we have observed are many and these have led us to use this term. We single out two specific factors to the name:

  1. Many of those thought leaders have moved on to the higher levels of project management and are working on topics related to organizational project management, strategic project management, project management maturity, program management, and various other “advanced topics”. They seem to be forgetting or are moving away from re-assessing basic project management. Perhaps they feel that basic project management is already sufficiently mature? Or perhaps this level of detail lacks sufficient interest? Or perhaps what we have is now too entrenched to be changed?
  2. The second main contributing factor is the wide-spread and popularity of project management certifications, such as the Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, although the issues are not limited to the PMP alone. We are not criticizing the PMP certification here but we do critique the organizations that administer, award, and promote the PMP, including PMI, some of its chapters, and some training providers who depend on the PMP as the main source of income for themselves or their organizations.[4] With their eagerness to promote the most popular PM certification today, their focus is on passing a multiple-choice exam rather than on facilitating the learning of proper project management.

Why is the second point above a factor a contributor to the title of this paper?

Because, many technical people without real project management experience and many with limited project management experience are becoming PMP. In general, this is not an issue if we all agree that the PMP is a basic level certification. However, the challenge is that these organizations and individuals promote the PMP as an expert level certified project manager. Then expertise require years of REAL experience and not fresh graduates working in a university computer lab or as teacher’s assistant.

Further, the way training provider ‘teach’ a large percentage of PMP preparation classes; their focus is on the process groups and processes, with inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs; or the so famous ITTO[5] . These are leading to numerous points of confusion around project management, project management terminology, and most importantly, the practice of project management. In short, the dominant confusion is around the process groups and the project life cycle.

Our Action and Response

As a result of our observations and experiences, we had decided to tackle these issues by developing a project management methodology, and publishing a series of books and offering services using this methodology. The upcoming articles reflects our views on the confusions and in reflection to the SUKAD approach.

 


[1] Max Wideman, FCSCE, FEIC, FICE, Fellow PMI, a globally-recognized author, consultant and expert, is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on modern project and program management. The Wideman PM Glossary is one of the most widely-referenced lexicons of PM terms and terminology in the world today. Max is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a long-time member of the Chartered Management Institute (UK). Max served on the PMI Board of Directors as VP Member Services (1984), President (1987) and Chairman of the Board (1988). In the mid-1980′s, he led a team of PMI volunteers to document the PM Body of Knowledge for the Institute, published by PMI in 1987. Max won PMI’s Distinguished Contribution Award in 1985 and Person of the Year Award in 1986.

[2] The PMBOK® Guide is “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge”, published by the Project Management Institute; all rights reserved to PMI®.

[3] We do not mean all the terms – but there are some terms that are critical, as we will discuss in this series of articles.

[4] Please note the author had been a PMI volunteer for many years; has been a PMP since 1998; has served in numerous PMI volunteer leadership roles, and is a PMI Leadership Institute Master Class graduate (2007). So as a long-term volunteer leader we critique for the betterment of the field of project management.

[5] We will have a future article on Memorizing the ITTO’s.