Project Management Concepts – Most Important Resource

I’ve been giving some thought recently as to what lies behind the work we do as project managers. Too often we get caught up in the tools and techniques, the how of what we do, without looking at the concepts and ideas behind it, the why of what we do.

Today, I want to look at what is controlled, the resources that we can use to carry out the work of the project, and particularly the most important resource. The concept I am looking at today is: The project team is a project’s most important resource. Guard them well, to allow them to get on with their tasks.

We already know that we can, within limits, control time taken, money spent, and scope fulfilled. But how are they controlled? Essentially, we are looking at how we can control these three resources. A project manager will have a certain amount of time and money to achieve a certain amount of scope.

But the key resource, the one which effects all of the project, is, of course, the team of people who are actually doing the work. In them, the three areas of control are combined.

Each of the team members has only a limited amount of time they can work on the project. Each of the team members will need to be paid for. And each of the team members will have different skills, and different abilities. Project management, then, needs to be able to guide the work of the team in the right way. We must allocate the work to the right individuals, giving guidance as to how long to spend on it, what quality is needed, and, if expenditure other than that on the team member’s salary is needed, how much can be spent.

So, we need control of the resources allocated to the project, and that includes the team. But, unlike money and time, team members can easily be distracted and pulled off to work on something else. But a project manager needs to retain control.

This leads us to a project management concept: The project team is a project’s most important resource. Guard them well, to allow them to get on with their tasks.

Project Management Concepts – Why Do We Do Projects?

I’ve been giving some thought recently as to what lies behind the work we do as project managers. Too often we get caught up in the tools and techniques, the how of what we do, without looking at the concepts and ideas behind it, the why of what we do.

Let’s go back to the very basics. Why do we do projects? What are they for?

I think this one is simple, but far too often forgotten: The primary aim of every project is to benefit the business.

To begin with, let’s look at the traditional view of business as usual. A company has a particular process it goes through to create its product, to produce as many of it as the company can.

One of the things we can say about this situation is that it is steady-state – the company can continue going through the same process to build ever more of its product. But, of course, the environment that the business operates in is going to change. And that means the company needs to adapt.

This is where projects come in. A project is about change. An individual project in this case could be about improving manufacturing methods, developing a new product to make, finding new markets, and so on. While the details of the project may change, all of them are change, about bringing change into the business.

But why would we want to do this? Why bring change into the business? Well, as I have already suggested, a business cannot stay the same while the environment it is in changes. New competitors may arise, economic conditions may alter, suppliers may go out of business.

A company that doesn’t react to these changing conditions, that doesn’t bring change into itself, will fall behind. It will suffer because other companies are reacting to the changing environment. These companies will take their market share, and eventually drive the first company out of business.

This means that we need to find a way to help the business. We need to deliver a project that benefits the business.

Now, of course, that benefit can make different forms. In general, the output of the project will directly either make, or save, the company some money. For example, the project may develop a new product to be sold, or improve manufacturing processes to reduce costs.

But this is only a generalisation – it may be the project itself only touches on the financial side indirectly. For example, a project may improve brand awareness in the marketplace. While this improved awareness will lead to increased sales, the project itself doesn’t deliver them.

So that’s why we do projects – we bring change into the business, and by doing that, or at least doing it successfully, we benefit the business. And that is one of my project management concepts: The primary aim of every project is to benefit the business.

Project Management Concepts – Awareness and Control

I’ve been giving some thought recently as to what lies behind the work we do as project managers. Too often we get caught up in the tools and techniques, the how of what we do, without looking at the concepts and ideas behind it, the why of what we do.

Today, I want to look at what we are trying to achieve when managing a project. What do we actually want to get from project management?

The project management concept I want to look at today is: Project management needs both awareness and control of the project. Control is impossible without awareness.

We already know that project management is about bringing change into a business, in a limited fashion. In other words, we attempt to control change, to stop it being chaos.

But to be able to do that, to have that element of control, we also need to understand what is actually happening with the project. We need to have an awareness of what is going on.

Without that awareness, control becomes impossible. You simply cannot know what direction you need to steer the project in if you don’t know what direction it is currently going in! You can’t know if your attempts at control are working unless you can see what is happening.

So, we need to be aware of what is happening in the project, so that we can then try to control what is happening in the project. And that brings us to a project management concept: Project management needs both awareness and control of the project. Control is impossible without awareness.