Project Management – Not Just for Builders and Engineers

A beginners introduction to project management, whatever your industry or sector.

There was a time when project management was a technique, used almost uniquely for the engineering world.  However in recent years more and more organisations have recognised the value of project management in their operation regardless of their industry/sector/specialism, and increasingly they are adopting a Project Management Way of Working, or as we call it PMWoW.
PM Sectors PMAdvisor
There are realistically 3 main types of project, described below.  To many organisations all three have their place, and to others maybe just one or two.

Type One – New Product Development Projects

Traditionally project management techniques were applied to the first type of project – new products.  Those “products” might have been as diverse as bridges, buildings, new computer systems or cars.

Type Two – Customer / Service Delivery Projects

This was followed by the general realisation that the techniques and discipline could be expanded to the second type of project which we describe as “customer projects”.  Again, initially rooted in the engineering world, this sees the scope expanded beyond development to manufacturing, test, site deployment, acceptance, and broader service provision.

Type Three – Organisational Change

As the project management techniques and systems matured, they became increasingly used in the controlled delivery of organisational and strategic change.

Industry Shifts

The general project types are largely unchanged in the 21st century, but we have seen 3 major industry shifts in the last few decades:

1) Methodologies & Frameworks

As project management usage grew, so did the available methods.  From the original “waterfall” methods we have seen the steady addition of options including:
as well as a whole host of niche and bespoke methods.  Some of these methods are generally applicable, whereas others are only suitable in certain applications.
Some care should be taken when considering the latest “new” way of managing projects.  As with the world of diets, various fads come and go as people look for that easy fix.  However it is worth remembering that the core project management techniques are flexible, and if applied consistently can produce excellent success rates.

2) Technology

There has been a huge proliferation of project management tools with varying degrees of complexity and suitability for certain project environments.  I am aware of well over 250 software tools which can be broadly categorised as:
  • Productivity Tools which typically focus on individual or group task management,
  • Project Collaboration Tools which typically add messaging, file sharing, project calendars and maybe some bells and whistles,
  • All-in-one Tools (often referred to as P3), which add layers of complexity typically including planning, resourcing, RAID management and even portfolio/program dimensions, and finally
  • Specialist Tools which deal with specific needs such as risk management, mind-mapping, and so on.

3) Broader Industry Adoption

In the last few years, project management has become increasingly adopted across most industries and sectors.  Typically, this has initially filtered from new product development and strategic / change projects into service delivery with noticeable recent adoption in the worlds of service, marketing, human resources, digital marketing and legal to name but a few.

Where Do Budding Project Managers Go For Advice?

There are lots of resources around, but as in many walks of life you need to know where to look.  Some great starting points include:
At ProjExc we recognised that finding good, honest, independent advice, especially those entering project management, can be quite challenging.  We noticed though that everyone seems to be selling their training courses, their qualifications, their books, their tools.  We have structured our advice and services into 2 distinct but closely linked independent offerings, both of which are applicable regardless of your industry or sector:
PM Advisor – advice and resources for individual project managers, and
ProjExc – guidance, advice and support for organisations wanting to set-up or improve their project management capability.
About the Author:
John Williams is a project management professional with 25 years experience across most industries and most types of project, portfolio and programs.  He is founder of ProjExc and PM Advisor, an active author, presenter, and consultant on the subject of project management, as well as an occasional interim project manager.  John is a proud member of the APM and also serves in their volunteer community.  If you would like John to present his talk “Why Projects Fail and What YOU Can Do About It” to your team or group either in person or as an online seminar get in touch.

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