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The Evolution of Project Management - Part 3

Aug 17, 2007
Why Project Management?
There is no doubt that organisations today face more aggressive competition than in the past and the business environment they operate in is a highly turbulent one. This scenario has increased the need for organisational accountability for the private and public sectors, leading to a greater focus and demand for operational effectiveness and efficiency.

Effectiveness and efficiency may be facilitated through the introduction of best practices that are able to optimise the management of organisational resources. It has been shown that operations and projects are dissimilar with each requiring different management techniques. Hence, in a project environment, project management can: (a) support the achievement of project and organisational goals; and (b) provide a greater assurance to stakeholders that resources are being managed effectively.

Research by Roberts and Furlonger [2] in a study of information systems projects show that using a reasonably detailed project management methodology, as compared to a loose methodology, improves productivity by 20 to 30 percent. Furthermore, the use of a formalised project management structure to projects can facilitate: (a) the clarification of project scope; (b) agreement of objectives and goals; (c) identifying resources needed; (d) ensuring accountability for results and performance; (e) and encouraging the project team to focus on the final benefits to be achieved. Moreover, the research indicates that 85-90% of projects fail to deliver on time, on budget and to the quality of performance expected. The major causes identified for this situation include:
(a) Lack of a valid business case justifying the project;
(b) Objectives not properly defined and agreed;
(c) Lack of communication and stakeholder management;
(d) Outcomes and/or benefits not properly defined in measurable terms;
(e) Lack of quality control;
(f) Poor estimation of duration and cost;
(g) Inadequate definition and acceptance of roles (governance);
(h) Insufficient planning and coordination of resources.

It should be emphasised that the causes for the failure to deliver on time, on budget and to the quality of performance expected could be addressed by the application of project management practices. Furthermore, the failure to deliver on time, on budget and to the quality of performance expected does not necessarily mean that the project was itself a failure. At this stage what is being discussed is the effectiveness and efficiency of project execution and not whether a project is a success or failure.

Project management should be viewed as a tool that helps organisations to execute designated projects effectively and efficiently. The use of this tool does not automatically guarantee project success. (project success will be discussed in a subsequent issue). However, in preparation for the next issue, I would like you to think about the distinction between project success and project management success. This distinction will provide further insight to the questions: Why are some projects perceived as failures when they have met all the traditional standards of success, namely, completed on time, completed within budget, and meeting all the technical specifications? Why are some projects perceived to be successful when they have failed to meet two important criteria that are traditionally associated with success, namely, not completed on time and not completed within budget?
About the Author
Sandro Azzopardi is a professional author who writes articles on his web site and local newspapers. http://www.theinfopit.com/technology/theevolutionofprojectmanagement-3.php
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