Evaluation of the discipline, profession, and growth of project management in an organisation
Prepared by: Majed Abdeen
There's a clear difference between experienced and inexperienced project managers. Nowadays, project managers need more skills than before; having technical and practical skills is not enough, we must now have leadership skills, and soft skills in order to collaborate and lead our teams and deliver the project successfully. Having a PMO in organisations helps project managers to make their decisions in a collaborative way, since it provides support. Having a Standard and the methodologies and approaches we have now, helps us to think about project management in organisations and continuously improve our practices. The discipline of Project Management is perhaps unique in this aspect: we strive to continuously improve our methods, knowledge and practice in a way not all other disciplines do.
In this article, I will evaluate the discipline, profession and growth of project management within organisations, with particular reference to the exponential expansion of human knowledge (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, Ch.1) which has contributed to the growth of project management.
We know that projects have always existed. However, did project management exist as a discipline itself? Written evidence, particularly from the Roman period, shows that although there were people who functioned as project managers, they were assigned accidentally (Walker & Dart, 2011, p.5); there was no formal training or body of knowledge for managing projects, and no organisations for project managers.
Complexity and Human Knowledge
Since the Roman period, there has been a significant growth in complexity. The world, the technology, buildings and transportation, etcetera, are increasingly complex, due to the ever-growing amount of human knowledge. Processes and activities are more complex, require more sophisticated systems (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, Ch. 1) within organisations. The growth of knowledge across all disciplines, means this knowledge can now be applied within projects (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, Ch. 1), thus projects themselves have become more complex. This has resulted in Project Management becoming a discipline in its own right (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, Ch. 1).
Contemporary Project Management
We now have professional organisations collating project management knowledge, developing best practices for Project Managers, and professional qualifications. They work to gather and improve knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques within the discipline of project management.
It is important to remember that Project Management is simply a set of processes and activities undertaken to achieve the project objectives (PMI, 2017, p.67). However, improving the processes and activities doesn't change the objectives; our objectives today, are the same as during the Roman period - that is, scope, time and cost - although we now recognise additional goals or success criteria as important (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, Ch. 1; PMI, 2017).
Project Management in Organisations
Many companies do not see the value or necessity of project management, resulting in missed deadlines, poor quality products, and additional costs (PMI, 2017, p.10). As Meredith & Mantel (2012) observe, organisations' traditional systems and methods are no longer sufficient for the increasingly complex world we live in. I would argue that the evidence shows that Project Management, as a discipline, is perfectly positioned to assist organisations to transition from the past into the future. Nowadays, organisations are beginning to see the value of Project Management; we now have organisations whose structure is projectized, as opposed to the more traditional matrix or functional structures (PMI, 2017, p.47). These organisations are harnessing the power of project management to bring change.
It is universally agreed that the mission of a project is to achieve the goal, after which its mission is complete, since projects are temporary in nature. A new trend within the discipline and profession of project management, is to emphasize the qualities which Project Managers need to possess or cultivate, in order to be good at their jobs; an example would be the PMI Talent Triangle (PMI, 2017, p.56). Good leadership is very important in successful projects, and nowadays communication is 90 percent of a project manager's job, in leading their team and working with their organisation.
Having evaluated the discipline, profession and growth of project management in organisations, we can see that as human knowledge has expanded, so too did Project Management. As we are looking to the future, we focus more and more on leadership and teams and knowledge sharing. Yet, Project Management has not forgotten its roots; after all, we use historical data to learn from the past, in the form of OPAs - we learn from previous projects. The past provides us with the foundation for the future.
1. Meredith, J.R. & Mantel S.J. (2012) Project management: a managerial approach. 8th ed. New York: Wiley.
2. Project Management Institute (2017) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide). 6th ed. Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute, Inc.
3. Project Management Institute & Agile Alliance (2017) Agile Practice Guide. Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute, Inc.
4. Walker, D. & Dart, C.J. (2011) ‘Frontinus—a project manager from the Roman Empire Era’, Project Management Journal, (42)5, pp. 4–16.