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Project management

Every organisation looks for a certain type of stability in how it deals with the environment it is in. For a company, this environment might be the customers, but could also be the regulations and legislation in the country in which it operates, the shortage of labour and other circumstances it has little influence on. For a public sector organisation the political climate is part of that environment, and also economic developments and any conflicts with other countries.

It is clear that changes in the environment will penetrate through into the organisation.

When existing routines are no longer meeting requirements, the need for change arises. To accomplish this, “the project” is used, whereby this project is no more than a temporary undertaking in order to move from one routine to the next. Because every project is unique and the environment is changing, the trigger (project/programme manager/leader) should be an out-and-out pragmatist.

He will be faced with the following issues:

  • Environment
  • Project type
  • Culture
  • Employee competence
  • Hygiene factors

Dealing with these in a competent manner is what we call Pragmatic Project Management.

Environment

No single project is an isolated entity, and it is always faced with a multitude of stakeholders, who have their demands, and exert their influence on the project. Pragmatic Project Management allows the manager and his team to respond accordingly, and they can skilfully adapt to the changes in the environment, yet still complete the project successfully.

Project type

To a large degree, the type of project determines what the shrewdest approach is. One of the most up-to-date setups is the so-called Diamond model, developed by Shenhar and Dvir, in which we determine the project type along the following dimensions:

  • Uncertainty with respect to the project objective (novelty)
  • Uncertainty with respect to the technology
  • Complexity of the product, tasks and project organisation
  • Pace at which it must be completed

When we tailor the project approach, these are the leading parameters.

Culture

Culture is that which has remained over from the history of an organisation. It is the way in which employees interact with each other. The culture can be positive or negative. It is the grumbling or moaning at the coffee machine, or the power games of the line managers, but it can also be the trust of the senior management in the project manager.

The culture not only strengthens, or restricts, the way in which a project manager can manage the project, but also whether a required professionalisation can be carried out. Dependent on the level of ambition, the culture can make or break.

Competence

Ultimately, a project is nothing more than a temporary form of collaboration between people. Figuratively speaking, the project manager has to make the best of what he has. Apart from the technical competences that the team members must have, there is also such as a thing as the competence of being able to work in a project. That means that the team members also have to be aware of the basic principles of working in projects.

Hygiene factors

Strictly speaking you could include culture in the hygiene factors, but there is still more. We also have to take account of the organisation structure, and whether this is project-friendly or unfriendly. Also the instruments that the team members and the project manager have available, can help or hinder.

It sometimes happens that an organisation adopts a method, and demands a strict adherence to it. Often, such a method is more of a hindrance that a help, and that is also hygiene.