Why Project Managers Follow A Methodology

Posted by David Montour

I recently completed teaching our Spring 2 online course (CTM-345) titled “Project Management Principles & Practices.” The final assignment for the students is a project paper which encompasses all of the methodologies and principles learned throughout the course.

The major purpose of the project paper is to give students the opportunity to apply, demonstrate, and apply their acquired knowledge to a project of their choice. They are asked to discuss a project that is of sufficient magnitude to exhibit all the tools, principles, practices, and methodologies covered in class Extra points are given for creativity and demonstrating comprehensive understanding of the project management function.

In addition, they are asked to provide a paper discussing a project. The students are asked to discuss the “Why,” “Importance Of,” “Trade-Offs of Not Using,” and “Real World Examples” of companies who have been successful or not using project management principles.

Strict Adherence to the template format/layout provided in the Syllabus is a requirement!

Some have asked why the strict adherence? The following is my response.

Let’s start with a quote from Harold Kerzner, Ph.D., a highly recognized expert in the field of Project Management.

“To win a decathlon requires the extreme best from the participant. It is very grueling and demanding set of events. The decathlete is usually very good and in fact the best in one or two events and in good standing in the other eight or nine events. The objective is to be the overall best in all ten events. Decathletes, like most athletes, must complete in head-to head events to know if they are able to win the overall decathlon.”

With that said, a Project Manager (PM) manages temporary, non-repetitive activities and frequently acts independently of the formal organization. The PM assembles resources for the project, provides direction, coordination, and integration of a project team. The project team consists of diverse project stakeholders dependent upon each other for both business and technical answers. The PM is responsible for the performance and success of the project, as well as bringing on the right people at the right time to address the right issues and make the right decisions.

The integrative nature of project management involves coordinating multiple processes for a project. This applies through all the process groups of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

There are many reasons why there has been an increased focus on project management:

  • Explosion in human knowledge on managing projects
  • Mass customization of products and services leading to common processes
  • Expansion of global markets and recognizing proven project management best practices are needed

As a result of this increased focus, the scope of project manager’s responsibilities has increased. Most companies share a Common Project Management Language and recognize the importance of project management and the need for a good understanding of the basic knowledge of project management. These organizations recognize that common processes need to be defined and developed so that project success can be repeated.

A Singular Methodology for project management is used to take advantage of the associated synergistic effects required when managing a project. This benchmarking method recognizes that process adherence and improvement is necessary to maintain competitive advantage, enabling Continuous Improvement and Refinement.

As I tell my students. “As you are now aware, a project manager’s toolbox essentially contains a set of processes, procedures, instructions, plans, schedules, unique terms and conditions, and project performance metrics that must be included in the successful management of any project, regardless of size, structure, or technical complexity. It has become a universal expectation, whether public, private, government agency, or your own company, that these established project management best practices are expected to be followed.” I also offer the below to consider:

“If two submitted proposal responses for a product or service being considered are determined to be potential candidates by a customer, an evaluation team must determine what the differentiator is? That differentiator can be who follows and has institutionalized within their organization Standardized Project Management Best Practices.”

The premise and response to the question “Why strict adherence to a format” is simple. If a company, business unit, or project manager does not adhere to and follow established and proven project management best practices, formats, and methodologies, what level of confidence does the public, private, or government agency customer have that the product or service being built for them will meet all of the technical requirements and performance specifications defined in a statement of work, proposal and subsequent contract, and those requirements/specifications are all within scope, on schedule, and on budget?

Thus, in effect, following the proper format is a critical evaluation element since it serves as the basis for a student to demonstrate their understanding of Project Management Principles and Practices.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/popartinc/3113007937/

Comments are closed.