There are plenty of project management methodologies with their respective emphasis and strengths. When we look into the heart of projects it is simply about balancing management and delivery.
The management is the oversight which should increase the chances of the project being a success. Hence the management is a means to an end. That end being the project delivery. Management uses project tools – business case, risk log, communication plan, financial profiles etc – These are ephemeral, they exist within the life of the project.
A project is about delivering something specific and explicit. It has some clear purpose which is the driving influence. Delivery results in specific project outputs or products. These are the reason the project exists, and represents the project legacy.
Both Management and Delivery need to be both effective and visible. This gives the four pillars of success:
- Effective Management - the application of successful governance and management
- Effective Delivery - the successful delivery of the project purpose
- Visible Management - transparency of the management and governance
- Visible Delivery - transparency of the delivery which constitutes success for the project.
There is a balance of effort between management and delivery to get just right. It’s quite easy to become a slave to the project tools – project software in particular – and all the necessary governance administration. Equally an over emphasis on delivery can mean that the checks and balances are missed, and that can effect both project effectiveness and it's perception.
Equally there's an important balance between actual delivery and the visibility of that delivery. Often it's easy to see lots of management tools being frequently updated during the life of the project, especially if the actual project products may emerge more slowly or even not until the end.
So plenty of science, but some art too.