Project Management: Art or Science?29 October 2019

Project Management

A project management approach can help guide organizations through the process of developing, implementing, and monitoring an effective cyber security and data breach prevention program. While there are certainly a number of objective processes involved, project management is not a pure science largely because it depends in part on people and communication. As any skilled Project Manager (PM) knows, there is an “art” to project management. A practical and effective project management process must be more than a user’s manual. It must provide step-by-step descriptions, guidance, tools, templates, and owners to manage the process within the organization’s particular environment. The process must not just describe what must be done but also the who, when, how, and why to be useful and effective.

Does this scenario sound familiar? There is not enough time to do the required upfront planning, so you jump into a project and quickly find yourself behind schedule. There is confusion, results are coming in late, and they are not good. You are only a short time away from a key milestone and management is expecting results. This is not a great place for any PM to be. Even when everything is going right and there is time to structure a project, develop the schedule, estimate costs, and fully plan, problems will inevitably occur, and the PM must figure out how to fix them. This is the reality of project management.

Knowing how and when to act is the fine “art” of project management I mentioned. Relying on experience can help. However, without a proper framework, the PM can easily lose control of the project. A good process can significantly increase the potential for success by enabling the PM to combine creative problem solving and teamwork within a framework to establish and maintain project control.

The fact is, people play a key role in project success. You cannot legislate good judgment. The PM is the orchestra leader who makes it all work. The PM must manage his/her team to ensure it is effective and high-performing.

Any process should also recognize the importance that communication plays in a project’s success. The PM has a vital role in facilitating and maintaining necessary two-way communication both within and outside the project team. With team members frequently working in separate locations in today’s business environment, this is another aspect of project management that is more of an art than a science. It’s critical to get it right, however, since without proper communication no project can succeed.

The importance of selecting the proper PM for a project cannot be understated. The PM is responsible for executing and managing the project from inception to completion, utilizing required tools and processes. The PM is also responsible for the general and day-to-day communication, leadership, and maintenance of the project team. The PM has overall project oversight and fulfills the team leadership role.As such, the PM position is critical to the project’s success. Here are some things to consider when hiring a PM for a particular project:

  • Project management experience: Has the project manager led projects of a similar scope, size, length, and priority?
  • Organizational experience: Does the project manager understand how work gets done in this type of organization?
  • Skills and knowledge: Does the prospective project manager have the right skills and knowledge for the project?
  • Personal leadership style: Does the project manager have the correct communication and people skills?

In a project management framework, the process describes what must be done. However, it’s even more important to consider who will drive the when, how, and why to maximize project and team effectiveness—and that’s the PM.

North Star Group has many Project Management Professionals who are not only certified, but understand the art and science of being a Project Manager. Contact us for help getting your next project off to a good start.

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