Project Management Concepts – Know the Project

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 the knowledge that we all need about the work on our projects. The project management concept I will be looking at today is: Project managers need to know what has been done, what is being done, and what needs to be done.

We need to have knowledge of what has already been done. It is important for us to know the path we took to get to where we are now, to understand the decisions we took, to remember the obstacles we had to overcome. In this way, we can learn from our project experience, and make our future path smoother.

We know that we need a good awareness of what is happening in the project at present. This awareness, this knowledge of what is happening right now, means we become aware of problems as soon as possible, to make sure we can solve them as quickly as possible.

We also need to have knowledge of where we plan to go next. It is important for us to have a clear idea of where we are going, to understand the challenges that we will face, to accept that unforeseen problems will arise, and to plan to deal with surprises. To make sure these unexpected events don’t derail the project, we have to have an understanding of our final objective.

By having knowledge of these three areas – the past, present, and future – we can improve our management of the project. We can do this by drawing on our experiences from the past to help us overcome obstacles we face in the present, and plot a course around foreseeable problems in the future.

And that leads us to today’s concept: Project managers need to know what has been done, what is being done, and what needs to be done.