There are three core components of Project Management. Well at least there are three "simple" components:
This is a naive view, but useful one for the purposes of this post.
There are many voices in the project management community. I'll take a risk and put these voices into the three categories above, for the current discussion.
- People skills are basically the soft skills of managing projects. All those soft skills session at PMI meetings, books on managing the people. Getting humans to engage with each other in a cooperative process of managing the project, developing the products or services of the project and generally moving the project toward it's end state.
- The processes are methods for managing a project. Ranging from formal to informal. Along with these processes are other processes of assessing the people who are performing the processes. PMBOK, Prince2, and the like.
- Technology is the tools of project management.Scheduling, cost, risk, reporting, graphics. generally any software gadget used while managing the project.
Each of these three points of view of project are vigorously discussed (debated).
But most of these voices start and end their discussion with their pet approach in the absence of a critical set of concepts. Can these or any people, process, or technology approach answer the following?
- Can we state clearly and concisely what "done" looks like? Can we state the intermediate versions of "done?" Can we state this in some units of measure meaningful to all the stakeholders?
- Do we know what it will cost to get to "done" or any smaller version of "done" along the way? This cost is usually measured in money. But people and other resources are part of the answer as well.
- Do we know the date of when we'll see "done" or any part of "done?" What the variance on this date? If we don't know the date of the final "done," how about a "date for the date?"
- Do we know we will measure progress along the way? How will we have confidence that progress is actually being made? What are the unit of measure for this progress?
- Can we see what is going to impede our progress toward "done?" Do we have any way to remove these impediments so we can get to "done?"
No matter what approach is being "pitched," if these questions cannot be answered in some credible way, then the message is not about project management, it's probably about trying to sell you something you may or may not want.
- A philosophy, an idea, or some other point of view
- A membership in some organization
- A conference
Use the 5 questions above to weed out those trying to "sell" you something from those whi canactuall give some way to "getting to done." Doesn't mean you'll actually get to "done," but at least you have a chance.