Project Management: What’s the Big Deal?

Shawna Tyler

Project Management is vital to any new concept or plan, whether that plan be a reorganization or putting up a new building. It is essential, and I’m not just saying this because I drank the Project Management Institute’s Kool Aid. Allow me to elaborate.

Work needs to get done, so go out and do it! I was raised in a blue-collar town in Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA), where you basically knew the job you had to do; you went to work each day, punched a clock, and went home. You did this every day in order to provide a life for yourself and your family, and you repeated this cycle year after year. If I were to look at this notion of Project Management as an outsider looking in, I would think it was some jibber-jabber by some high rolling, fast-talking city slicker trying to sell me on a new concept.

Although that is true for a vast majority of the workforce from which I came, white collar management in NEPA did put plans into place to carry out their missions. However, it was more a “fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants” rollout, where changes were made ad-hoc in response to unforeseen situations. I should mention here, that concepts such as Kaizen, Six Sigma, and the use of Design of Experiments were in their infancy. The time period was roughly the late 1980s to early 90s.
Fast forward into the future: I started to learn about this Project Management method of scoping out projects and handling them in very detailed, very planned-out way. I was skeptical at first, thinking, oh boy, here’s the new buzzword for the next few years, until something better comes along. I’m happy to say I was wrong.

What I found with Project Management is an entire system (and when I say an “entire system,” I mean systems within systems for you to plan a project to the most granular detail called Work Packages). The amount of planning and preparation, if done correctly, left no stone unturned, thus mitigating risk and time needed to roll out your plan. It took approximately a year to fully understand it and utilize it to its maximum potential, but I am proud to say that I became very good at this style of constructing and executing plans. People wanted me on their projects due to the high level of customer satisfaction that was resulted from my use of this Project Management tool.

Though I cannot write enough about this topic in a short blog, I can explain to you some of the basic concepts. There are five life-cycle phases that you must utilize when planning your project. In order, they are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Closing. In addition, there are nine knowledge areas that need to be incorporated into these phases. They are Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communication, Risk, and Procurement. To use these effectively, I would encourage anyone who is interested to shadow a co-worker to get the basics. It helps greatly to see these concepts in use. For those who want to further their Project Management abilities, I would say membership to the Project Management Institute (and reading the materials therein listed), and taking a class would be a good idea. Finally, for the truly hard-core PM wanna-be, start studying to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) test. It is the toughest test I ever took, but it is a globally recognized credential and it will give you the skills you need to be the PM on a project in just about any type of industry. Go get ‘em, folks! PM skills are invaluable.


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