The 'Problem' with Project Management is that it that it is not the solution but is often thought to be by both the business and the project fraternity

It is not so much that ‘project management’ is the problem, its just that it is not the solution!

Too often in people’s minds ‘project management’ is seen as the same as ‘project delivery’ — but it is not. ‘Project Management’ is the set of processes that organizes, structures and controls project activities and is the equivalent of any other ‘management’ activity.

Take a production line. The operators create the goods (the value) and management organizes the work, plans the production, pre-empts or deals with problems and so on. Management organizes, structures and controls the value generating activities but does not directly generate or deliver the value.

The value of project management?

This is why ‘project management’ has had so much difficulty trying to quantify its value. Project management is not, therefore, part of the value delivery stream.

Project management has to justify its contribution. Few would argue that large, complex programs of work can be effectively delivered without effective project or program organizing, structuring and controlling. However, these processes contribute to, rather than directly deliver, value.

Therefore, before applying project management techniques to projects you need to establish that the time and effort involved in project management will be offset by the value this management will deliver to the project (as opposed to the business). This value can be in terms of

  • reduced project duration — benefits faster
  • reduced wasted effort — less cost
  • more motivated, focused staff — increased productivity
  • increased clarity of what is should be happening — increased (progress, financial, direction) control
  • less risk — more certainty
  • fewer issues — less unnecessary effort
  • increased stakeholder support/comfort — greater business support

How are your project managers adding value to your projects?

Topics: Project Management

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (July 2009) as "The 'Problem' With Project Management"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections