The nature of projects and project management is rapidly changing - no more so than in knowledge based organisations and professional service firms. Traditionally, a person may have been assigned full-time to a single project. Increasingly, however in knowledge based organisations this is rare, people have many projects to multiplex.
In the past, projects tended to be sequential: a rigorous requirement analysis was undertaken; a specification or detailed plan drawn up and signed off on before work commenced. On completion of the work, if the project resulted in a product or service, it would enter a limited testing period before release. The project itself would be tightly managed to a fixed budget and fixed ship date. Both of which were rarely met! Or if they were - it was at the cost of quality.
Today it is rarely like that. Projects are not rigorously analysed up front. Implementation and review are an incremental, iterative process. Continual refinement of the business requirements and the solution (increasingly a technology-based one) is essential. Deadlines and budgets are not so sacrosanct. Shipping a basic high quality solution early, learning from it and then frequently revving it - is the norm.
Not only is the nature of projects changing. Not only are people involved in more than one project. But the numbers of projects themselves are proliferating. Driving and managing anything within an organisation is done with a project mindset.
Projects today are fast and fluid. In the past Pert charts and Gantt charts were the project manager's prime tools. Tight control was the name of the game. Today more flexible collaborative knowledge sharing tools are needed as the project deliverables and time scales frequently change. What is now important – if not essential - is the management of the project knowledge; to incorporate learning into every stage of the project; to build in frequent reviews; to involve all stakeholders, to communicate more broadly. It is more about knowledge management than traditional project management – especially when products are increasingly intangible “knowledge products” anyway.
We need new mindsets, new tools and new methodologies to cope with the change. Here are some resources that introduce you to some of these new ways of thinking and working and to provoke you to re-asses how you run projects in your organisation.
ArticleBuilding Learning into Everyday Work by David Gurteen
Blog PostExtreme programming, early learning, project management and KM!
Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 1 August 2002
BookPeopleware by Tom Demarco , Timothy Lister
Productive Projects and Teams
The Professional Service Firm 50 (1999) by Tom Peters
Fifty Ways to Transform your "Department" into a Professional Service Firm whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation!
The Project 50 (1999) by Tom Peters
Fifty Ways to Transform every "Task" into a Project that Matters!
CategoryProject Management [14 items]
LinkPrototype Culture by Michael Schrage
Article in Marketing Computers magazine
The Atlantic Systems Guild
US based software development consulting organization
QuotationOn executing a plan by George S. Patton
On WOW! projects by Tom Peters Consultant & Author
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