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What Project Management is Not

By Demetrios Gianniris,
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

As the Director of Project & Technology Management at Eze Castle Integration, I am often asked, “What exactly is Project Management?”

The Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading non-profit association of Project Management professionals, defines the term in the 4th edition of its guide, Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). According to this document, Project Management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”


The term Project Management is vague in itself. Personally speaking, when people ask me what I do, the question always leaves me reaching for an image or phrase that never comes quite in time for me to answer with any cohesiveness. Sometimes, to get a clearer definition of what something is, it is best to start by defining what it is not.

Here are five things I have found through experience that Project Management is not.project management meeting

1. Project Management is not an activity in which you create your plan and watch it play out perfectly until reaching the “Project Complete” milestone.

If it were that easy, there would be no need for Project Management. The reality is that there is no such thing as an easy project, as even the most straight-forward, meticulously planned projects can experience unexpected turns of events.

2. Project Management is not just workflows, techniques and methodologies.

Following our standard workflows and using our tools and techniques without looking carefully at what suits our projects and the environment is a recipe for trouble. These standards are best used as guidelines as opposed to hard and fast rules.

3. Project Management is not simply loading up projects with too many processes that hinder the work.

There is no question that, when established efficiently and effectively, processes are key ingredients of success through structured organization. However, not every process needs to be used on every project. There is a time and a place for each, and too much of it can prevent people from getting the work done in the most efficient manner possible.

4. Project Management is not attempting to control the Universe.

The best project managers I have known lead, cheerlead and sometimes direct, but they are never dictators. They work in concert with their teams. The reality is this: Any time you think you are in control, the universe will very clearly let you know with an unexpected twist in the project that you are not.

5. Project Management is not just schedule tracking.

Tracking the schedule is absolutely necessary to successfully delivering the project, but it is just a part of conducting the project successfully. In fact, project schedules are best used as indicators of everything else that should be happening throughout the process: communication, risk management, stakeholder management, etc.

So, although I’m not sure if I have answered the question of what Project Management actually is, the above points will at least shed some light on what it is not. For more information on Project Management and related topics, be sure to check out the following articles:

---------project and technology management data sheet

Demetrios Gianniris is Director of Project & Technology Management (PTM) at Eze Castle Integration. He is responsible for overseeing the daily administration and operations of the Project Management team, including project design development, construction management, professional services and information technology consulting. Follow Demetrios on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dgianniris.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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