27.12.11

Project Traction

Everything is a project.  With some combination of purpose, time and resources.  This applies to life in general too.  Going on holiday is a project, some purpose (maybe sun or surf or serenity), then some planning, then using resources and doing activities.  We think of projects more often in the workplace context , especially where project management methodologies start to be wheeled out.

Once project management methodologies get wheeled out then even the simpler projects can seem more complex, because with project management methodologies, there's simply more to do.  So not just to achieve the purpose of the project, but now also to construct and feed the project management machinery along the way.

So at this point it can be helpful to distinguish between what the project delivers to achieve it's purpose and what the project delivers to support the project management.  After 20+ years, PRINCE 2 is the de-facto project management standard for public and not for profit sector (originally developed through the office for Government Commerce (OGC), now subsumed within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).

It can be more helpful to also think of this is a more accessible way.  And to maintain some explicit air gap between these things.   The things that the project delivers to fulfil its purpose are deliverables. products or outputs.  The things that the project delivers to support the project management can be more simply described as the project tools.  The same way a carpenter's toolbox contains things that enable the carpenter to achieve some purpose with wood, the tools are the means to that end,and while important - even critical  -to achieving that purpose - those tools are a means to an end, rather than an end in themselves.  (Sure for someone else their purpose is to make tools for the carpenter in the first place - probably making tools with machinery.

It's the project management that can reliably provide the traction for the project.  The way a tractor is designed to provide the traction in  range of circumstances - to pull different tools.  The tractor is that generic  tool, just just those project management methodologies. Both can be applied to different purposes in different circumstances....