Projects and Business: 5 Keys to Modern Project Management

Projects and Business: 5 Keys to Modern Project Management

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Modern project management is a process that both private and public organizations use to achieve specific and sometimes interim objectives. What follows is a compressed exploration into five critical keys to modern project management success.

Understand What Project Management Is

The task of project management includes feasibility evaluations, activity planning, organizing, the marshaling and controlling of resources, and the motivation of personnel, all with the aim of bringing about some beneficial change in an organization.

Have Clearly Defined Goals

The goal of project management is to bring about a desirable result while respecting established constraints concerning time, scope and budget. The mandate of the project manager is to properly allocate and optimize scarce resources brought to bear on a project so that such resources can be integrated into a process that yields a meaningful and clearly defined outcome.

Appreciate the Influence of Organizational Culture

Differences in project management success rates can often be traced to organizational culture. Some organizations simply do a better job of organizing and motivating people than others. Among the big-picture factors that influence management’s ability to deliver projects on time and on budget is the environment and culture of the organization. Organizational culture comes into play in a variety of ways. One way to obtain better outcomes is to influence the organization’s environment and culture.

Effecting Cultural Change

In the main, organizations tend to do things according to how they have "always been done"—a not always encouraging realization. If managers want to effect change in outcomes, they need to understand and create change within the organization’s culture. The folks who run Basecamp—a management services technology vendor—have published case studies showing that the most effective ways of bringing about change in organizational culture include the simple act of treating the people involved in a task as a community rather than as gladiators competing against each other for survival.

Credentials, Professional Training and Development

The semi-permanent nature of projects places unique demands on professional project managers who are required to immerse themselves in the development of distinct and categorical technical skills unique to their calling. To this end, one path many candidates seeking entry into the industry take involves a formal education leading to a Master of Science Degree (M.S.) in project management. Brandeis University even offers project management degrees online. Students gain exposure to interdisciplinary studies of enterprise management with an emphasis on project management.

Project management strategies and philosophies date back to the time of the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. Today’s modern project management philosophies and methodologies leverage the benefits of present day technologies and a better understanding of how the world works. The very first step in the modern approach to project management is to develop a vision of what expected outcomes should look like. From there, success depends largely on managing the expectations of the many stakeholders involved. In fact, it is the project management field where the famous "perception equals reality" aphorism was derived.

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