Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is PMI Focusing on the Right Things?

Dr. Janice Thomas and Mark Mullaly announced the findings of a 4 year study that included case studies from 65 companies looking at the value of project management. All credit to them for trying to rationalize and draw meaning from such diverse groups. The question is, should they try to?

What is Project Management?
According to the PMBOK guide, "Project Management is accomplished through the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing."

Whether constructing a building, making dinner or developing software; there are processes that will help one be more successful. At its core, that is project management.

Different Industries are Different
Is the process for constructing a building the same as the process for making dinner? Is it even similar to the process for developing software? No, the processes must be different. Are the skill sets required to succeed at each step similar? No, safety concerns in construction are obviously different from cleanliness concerns in cooking or complier concerns in software.

Can the Processes in One Make you Better in Another?
The roots of project management probably come from construction. The Romans realized foundations were needed before building walls and roofs. Specialized skills and the coordination between them are as appearant in the Roman Coliseum as in a modern sky scrappers.

At a very generic level, the ideas of critical paths, deadlines and dependencies may cross industries, but do the specialized skills to be successful in each area align? No. Safety concerns in construction are paramount. Cranes falling in Houston are catastrophic to that project, but not a concern to someone running a restaurant. Cleanliness hopefully is an overriding concern to the restaurant owner, but unfortunately isn't so critical to software developers. [Editor: Are you criticizing developers? Talk about biting the hand the feeds you...]

Comparisons between Industries are not so Meaningful
While processes may have underlying similarities, the specialized skills required to make each step in the process successful are so different, comparisons between industries are not so meaningful and not where PMI should be focusing.

What do you think?

1 comment:

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