What is Project Management?

I talked with Tim Cermak, Innovative-e’s Project Portfolio Management (PPM) guru, about this “Bottom-Line PM” project. Tim, also a PMP, is kind of my guide through the wilderness that is learning about project management when you haven’t a clue. One thing became apparent to me as we talked: everybody knows of project management, but it seems that, for us outsiders, it’s a pretty nebulous concept. It would be helpful to define what “project management” is.

Tim very succinctly said, “Project management is change.”

Suppose you want to mitigate or change the status quo and move it in a more positive direction. In that case, you’re going to enact project management to take deliberate and concrete steps to turn a less-than-ideal situation into something more practical and pleasing.

That’s pretty manageable and bite-sized. That’s something we all do, to some extent, in our daily lives, professional or otherwise. It’s a familiar concept.

So basically, my understanding of project management is this:

  • You define a problem. You decide that you want to change it for the better.
  • You begin identifying steps you need to take to make the desired improvement.
  • You begin to assess what you need to have and do to accomplish those steps.
  • You begin to plot out the timeline for effecting this positive change.
  • And then you begin taking the necessary steps, actually doing it.
  • Along the way, you look at what’s working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly.
  • And finally, you reach your target, and voila! You have made the positive change you set out to make.

That is project management in a nutshell—seven easy pieces.

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