I recently read an article on Project Connections, In Defense of the Project Management “Perfect World” by Carl Pritchard, PMP, EVP.
I thought it was an excellent article, with well-stated and supported points.
There are many theoretical frameworks for project management, quality, general management, etc. I’m convinced that above a particular threshold, all of them are nearly equally valid. Some may be better in specific areas than others, and some may apply better across a broad class of situations. Others just don’t work well in any scenario, and those die.
For project management frameworks, you have PMBOK, PRINCE2, RUP, SDLC, TenStep, etc. For methodologies there are Agile variants, waterfall, spiral, Critical Chain, etc. The list goes on and on. Note that there are significant numbers of organizations that utilize their own preferred framework and methodology, and (hopefully) most get good results from their use. Look at two companies implementing the same methodology and you’ll see they don’t implement it the same way.
The important thing is that you embrace a theoretical framework that can be used to guide strategic and tactical decisions. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a pure form from the original source, or a modified version, etc. The primary benefit comes from having a standard of some sort that helps achieve results.
On a somewhat related digression, check out my first article in a series of 6 over at Projects@Work. The comments I received so far are great, and I want to point out something that is related to this topic. A few of the readers seemed upset that I took an established concept, Deming’s 14 Points, and wrote a modified piece using Deming as a foundation.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to follow the original form of a framework or methodology if it works. There’s also nothing wrong with modifying the standard to better fit your needs. In this case, I took a kernel from each of Deming’s 14 points I felt was relevant to project management and built on it from there.
So, “defending the project management ‘perfect world'” doesn’t necessitate a religious observance of a framework or methodology in it’s original form.
About the author
Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude. He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at pmstudent.com.