Project Management is one of the oldest, most established disciplines in world. The onslaught of productization and automation has brought about a huge change in the way organizations approach and implement project management. As organizations start to look beyond the initial ROI gains from automation towards sustained long term benefits, it is crucial for them to strike a balance between the art and science of project management. In this blog we will discuss how organizations can work towards achieving that fine balance.
The science side of project management addresses planning, forecasting, measurement and resource management. The science essentially covers the measurable aspects such as budget, time and their downstream implications such as timeliness, utilization, productivity, expenses and adherence thereof. The purpose is to address the four key management focus areas: (1) Project Progress (2) Budget adherence (3) Timeline adherence and (4) Resource Utilization. Here is how organizations can master the science side of project management.
Implementing well laid out processes bring in standardization and transparency to project execution. Everyone working on the project is thereby working towards a common goal using the best possible set of steps. What makes it even more effective is the ability to improve upon continuously. There are many established process excellence frameworks that organizations can choose from, based on type of industry, nature of project, size of teams and other parameters.
Data-driven decision making
Across the lifecycle of a project, a wide range of data points are generated; Time, Budget, Risk, Resources to name a few. These data points when visualized can provide valuable insights such as resource productivity & utilization, project health in terms of time & budget, risk factors. Teams, stakeholders and customers use a common language to keep the project on track and take informed decisions towards ensuring success.
Technology is the third and most important component in the science of project management. Project management tools can help organizations operationalize processes and institute data driven culture by capturing, aggregating and visualizing data across the lifecycle. The business environment today demands that organizations invest in the right tools and drive adoption.
Processes, Data and Tools alone would be enough for project success if it were an organization of robots. Organizations however are made of humans. The ability to create a hierarchy of people and get them all motivated to work towards a common goal is where the art part of project management comes in (Read: The Human side of Project Management). Let’s look at the aspects that define the art side of things.
History shows that strong leaders have consistently delivered success, sometimes in impossible circumstances. Data can be captured, tools can be deployed but people need to be led. Leadership inspires and motivates people and helps build a healthy work culture. Where people are involved, there are a lot of variables. Leaders have the ability to manage those variables and keep the projects on track towards success.
We have discussed the importance of culture in project management at length in a previous blog (Read here). Culture is the glue that gets teams together and encourage them to contribute towards the greater good. It is what gets people adopt tools and use them diligently. Culture is what drives them to follow processes down to the last detail. You can tell people what to do and how to do it, but it’s the culture that the why to do it.
Creativity & Communication
A project is destination where the start and end can be decided. How the journey turns out cannot be completely controlled. Art again is a crucial part of making this journey more tangible and productive. Creativity, as subjective as it may be, is crucial to the ideation and problem solving part of the project lifecycle. Projects demand collaborative environment where teams, stakeholders and customers come together to take the project to its agreed conclusion. Effective communication helps keep all concerned parties engaged at all points in time. The journey therefore becomes a lot more peaceful so to speak!
Having elaborated on the science and art of project management, we can agree that both are absolutely critical. But it is also very evident that one without the other is just half as good. Organizations therefore need to invest time, effort and money on mastering the art & science of marketing, to stay ahead in the game.