What Is Project Management

Almost any activity that involves carrying out a non-repetitive task can be a project however, there is a big difference between carrying out a very simple project involving one or two people and one involving a complex mix of people, organisations and tasks.

But large-scale projects like building the Pyramids often used rather simple control and resource techniques including brute force to ‘motivate’ the workforce!

What is a project plan?

The art of planning for the future has always been a human trait. In essence a project can be captured on paper with a few simple elements: a start date, an end date, the tasks that have to be carried out and when they should be finished, along with some idea of the resources (people, equipment, goods, money, etc.) that will be needed during the course of the project.

When the plan starts to involve different things happening at different times, some of which are dependent on each other, plus resources required at different times and in different quantities and perhaps working at different rates, the paper plan could start to cover a vast area and be unreadable.

Project management is not only about planning but also about human attributes like leadership and motivation.

Do plans help you control a project?

Nevertheless, the idea that complex plans could be analysed by a computer to allow someone to control a project is the basis of much of the development in technology that now allow projects of any size and complexity not only to be planned but also modelled to answer ‘what if?’ questions.

But computer programs are not project management: they are tools for project managers to use. Project management is all that mix of components of control, leadership, teamwork, resource management etc. that goes into a successful project.

Do Project Managers matter?

Project managers can be found in all industries. Their numbers have grown rapidly as industry and commerce has realised that much of what it does is project work. And as project-based organisations have started to emerge, project management is becoming established as both a professional career path and a way of controlling business.

So opportunities in project management now exist not only in being a project manager, but also as part of the support team in a project or programme office or as a team leader for part of a project. There are qualifications that can be attained.

One reason for the rapid growth is the need to understand how to look after complex projects that are critical to business success but also have to use scarce resources efficiently. Most organizations still want their projects to be on time, meet quality objectives, and not cost more than the budget. These form the classic time, quality, cost ‘’constraints triangle’’.

In fact if you have an unlimited budget and unlimited time, project management becomes rather easy. For most people, however, time and money are critical and that is what makes project management so important today.