Project Management Institute
The Project Management Institute is a non-profit organization based
in the US which has defined the Body of Knowledge for Project
Management, and has developed certification testing for PM
professionals. For more information on Project Management, on
getting certified as a Project Management Professional, books, white
papers, and discussion forums on PM topics, see
Project Management Institute (web site of
the non-profit organization that sets PM standards and certified PM
What is a Project?
It may seem like a stupid question, as everybody thinks they can
recognize a project when they see one. When we talk specifics
however, there is a broad interpretation of the word, leaving many fringe
areas in the definition. The most generic definition can be derived
from Project Management Institute's Body of Knowledge as:
A project is a series of tasks, arranged in a
defined sequence or relationship, that produce a pre-defined output or
effect. A project always has a start, middle, and an end.
|installation of new equipment or a modified process
||preparing & delivering a report, presentation or speech
|developing a new product design
||a new marketing or advertising campaign
|building a new house
||moving to a new building
|processing a new customer or a new customer's order
||preparing a meal for your family
|getting dressed in the morning
||birth of a baby
Projects are not sacred events, reserved for engineers or general
contractors. We all co-ordinate many tasks, as well as many
simultaneous projects (ie. weekend car schedule with 3 children, all on
different sports teams at opposite ends of the city). To be
successful in our lives, we need to bring together the right people for
the right reason, with the right resources, at the right place. A
great orchestra cannot lead itself to international recognition, it needs
a great conductor. So too with projects. Projects need
Many "projects" keep coming back, again & again. We get to
practice until it becomes a routine and life-long habit (ie. brushing our
teeth). We all develop some skills at informal Project Management,
some better than others.
But other "projects" are big, important, and costly. We have
limited time & resources with which to accomplish our goals.
Sometimes the projects are risky, or we only get one shot at getting it
right (ie. planning & implementation of a wedding, or first impressions
with a new customer).
This is where formal Project Management comes in. Project
Management can help guide our efforts and the happy outcomes.
Without Project Management tools & techniques, our society would be
unable to function at the speed, affordability, and complexity that it
currently does. While some may feel this is an excellent argument
to do away with Project Management, I will leave that for the
philosophers to debate.
History of Projects & Project Management
Project Management started long before King Cheops planned the
construction of his pyramid. For thousands of years, when this
year's crops weren't ready for harvest in the "right" month, the Hebrews
re-synchronized their calendar (based on the phases of the moon) with the
annual seasons by the adding of an extra month, thereby ensuring that
everybody started planting next season at the right time (project start).
Gantt (Henry L. Gantt, 1861 - 1919) added an important visualization
tool around 1917 with the Gantt Chart dramatically advancing the science
of project management..
Thousands of people invested their lives in the application and theory
of Project Management. However the same problems, solutions, and
methods continued for another 40 years. The typical problems
encountered then are still occurring today, as shown in the following
|Typical Challenges & Symptom with Projects
||National Average (1998)*
||Only 44% of all projects finish on schedule or before. The
rest tend to be very late.
On average, projects are 222% longer than planned.
|Fall short of planned technical content
||70% of projects
|Canceled before finished
||30% of projects
|Day-to-day chaos & frustrations
|No reliable way to measure project status
||Until it's too late
* As reported in a national survey conducted by The Standish Group
Project Management was now essential to our changing and growing
economy, and produced many excellent results over the years (ie. the
Empire State Building was constructed in less than a year with brand new
technology, steel girder skeleton). However, as shown above, there
was much room for improvement.
In the late 1950's, Admiral Raborn of the U.S. Navy needed the Polaris
missile program up and flying as quickly as possible due to the perceived
threat of a "missile gap" between the U.S. and Russia. Traditional
project management wasn't enough to ensure the safety of the nation.
The problem was solved with the help of Willard Fazar's PERT (Program
Evaluation and Review Technique). PERT became the mandatory
requirement of all US Navy projects.
Theory of Constraints'
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
After PERT, nothing much happened in Project Management for the next
Yes, there was some work done on Earned Value, and fancy calculations,
and much tweaking, but none of it resulted in significant change, nor
consensus. Most of it further complicated the situation, until 1997.
Dr. Eli Goldratt (famous for `The Goal',
a world-wide best seller on the Theory of Constraints, TOC) finally took
time out from his busy schedule of helping organizations improve their
profitability and productivity, to write a book about what he had
accomplished and a new way of looking at Project Management through TOC:
Dr. Goldratt's book outlines the application of Theory of
Constraints to a project management environment.
Saturn Car Company needed no further prompting. They had
hundreds of new dealerships to construct, and needed them as quickly as
possible, and as cheaply as possible. However, the end results (ie.
the dealerships) had to reflect the proper image for the company (ie.
quality & reliability). Saturn applied Critical Chain project
management techniques to the dealership building program with phenomenal
success. Fortunately, each dealership construction project needed
more or less the same steps and outcomes. Unlike most projects
which have a lot of "We'll see when we get there", re-scheduling, fine
tuning, and shifting priorities, the dealerships were built in a "cookie
cutter" fashion, with minimal differences; virtually all the same using
the same schedule. This cookie cutter, repetitive project could be
manually scheduled with Critical Chain Theory.
CCPM Software for Project Management
While the case of Saturn dealership construction described above was
difficult enough, most of us have more complicated, dynamic situations
than building one dealership at one construction site. We have
project teams, experts, management, and facilities spread across
continents instead of just a 1 acre construction site. Fortunately
(I keep trying to convince myself), we have computers, software, and
e-mail with instantaneous, world-wide communications through the
Most project management software available today is a fancy Windows
interface on the same algorithms that were used in the Polaris Missle
program in the 1950's. However, there are some exceptions.
There is now excellent software available to help schedule projects using
the CCPM methodology. Some of these are software modules that run
together with your existing software, such as Microsoft Project.
PQA has conducted a test drive of the major project management
software on the market today. For a brief review of our results,
Management Software Review
Many of today's project management software are "Internet Savvy".
They will automatically upload the data so that anyone in the world with
a standard browser can:
- Input the most recent status of their assigned tasks,
- Find out how the overall project is doing, and
- Be informed of any delays or advances in the schedule.
- Stay "in the loop" for their project role, while working
independently at a remote site.
What's Next in Project Management after CCPM ?
Just as the fax machine started a fundamental shift in how we all do
business, this was further accelerated by e-mail and "info surfing". The
"do" side that projects are concerned with has been lingering at the same,
snail pace as in the 1950's. For construction work, we now see night
floodlights and winter construction to try and achieve faster cycle time.
I believe the pace of business must accelerate even more. There is
huge pressure to do so. But the fragile people, and our unaided
capabilities are already stretched to the breaking point, and beyond.
Consider CCPM for project managers to be the same as the telescope for
the astronomer, the microscope for the pathologist, and the hearing aid
for the deaf. CCPM allows us to achieve even greater speed, cost,
and effectiveness than we are otherwise able to achieve by ourselves.
|1980's were about
|1990's were all about
|2000's are only about
Fasten your seatbelts and use CCPM to:
- Lower your frustrations & have fun with projects
- Keep up with the Competition
- Make a reasonable profit for your exceptional efforts.