The Omnipresence of Project Management

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The Omnipresence of Project Management

Today Project Management has become an integral aspect of everyone’s life. On the face of it, this statement may sound surprising or far-fetched, but think about it for a moment and you will realize that it is true! Anybody who wants to do “anything” has to initiate, plan, see the scope involved, schedule, do the “anything” and complete (close) it.
Let us take a very “everyday” example of getting ready to go to work. Mr. Working Man has to go through all the processes of Project Management.
1. Decide that he has to go to work today or not (Initiate)
2. Determine which train/bus/rickshaw to catch so as to be able to reach on time (Plan)
3. Start his journey towards his office (Execute)
4. Keep watch so that he gets the train/bus/rickshaw he has planned for (Monitor and Control)
5. Reach office (Close)
We do these things automatically, without giving them a second thought but isn’t it really wonderful that we are executing Project Management processes so effortlessly and that everyone is doing it. Hence I would say that Project Management is definitely in-built in human nature. It is ubiquitous. It is omnipresent. Wherever you go, you will find it in one form or the other.
This simple but beautiful truth first struck me when I was preparing for my PMP certification. While reading PMBOK and trying to capture the concepts specified in it, I got really involved with the processes. One day while watching a program on TV about a man in pre-historic times going out for a hunt, it suddenly struck me that this man was actually performing the various processes of Project Management! He was planning his hunt, he had to complete the hunt, he had to return back home by dusk and also feed his family! Project Management in pre-historic times! Amazing!
Today the field of Project Management has advanced considerably. It is taken as an integral part of any exercise or endeavor. The very definition of a project – A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, result or service – says a lot, doesn’t it? I mean there could be so many “temporary endeavors” undertaken by us in a course of a single day! Hence it is no cause for wonder that today Project Management is indeed a part of everyone’s life.
My personal experience tells me that doing PMP really broadens the way we look at Project Management. It changes one’s way of thinking. I probably would not have been able to relate the TV program about the hunter with Project Management if I was not studying for my PMP at that time. The connection between Project Management and that hunter’s actions really struck a chord in me and then when I looked deeper I realized that every action of ours has got some element of Project Management built into it.
Project Management knowledge areas affect everyday life in someway or the other. Don’t we do some kind of Risk Management and Time Management in our day-to-day lives? Aren’t we always trying to improve the “Quality” of our lives? I am sure everyone, at some point of time, have had to handle the “triple constraints” that crop up in various situations as he/she goes through daily life.
What about communication? Where would we be if we could not communicate with each other? And we all know what could happen if communication is faulty or misunderstood, whether in a project or in daily life. In a project it can derail the entire project and in daily life it could adversely affect relationships. On the other hand effective communication is a major contributor in the success of a project or a relationship.
Projects contain risks and so does everyday life, so let us look at little more closely at Risk Management. Isn’t risk analysis always high on the priority list whether it is an official project or a personal situation? No project can be given a go-ahead till ideally all, or at least most, risks have been identified and relevant action for mitigating or eliminating the same has been decided. Going ahead on a project without dealing with the risks first, would be like committing hara-kiri. No Project Manager worth his salt would commit this kind of mistake. Similarly whatever action we take in our daily lives, we do carefully weigh the risk first. Would it be prudent to buy a house in this area? Isn’t it risky to go driving on the Ghats during the rainy season? What if I buy this insurance policy and then realize that this is not what I wanted? Should I leave this job and try my hand at this new offer, though it is with a start-up company?
Sounds familiar right? So it does make perfect sense when we say that all of the above are individual projects which we are executing (buying a house, going on a driving trip to Khandala, buying an insurance policy, taking up a new job) and are carefully weighing the risks of each. Similarly we can evaluate each of the other knowledge areas with the above examples thereby establishing a clear connection between everyday life and Project Management.
The above viewpoints go a long way in strengthening the case for the validity and importance of Project Management today. It has practically been accepted (or at least it’s on way of being so) as a science. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, one of the definitions of science is “knowledge attained through study or practice”. This is so potently true for Project Management. As we get deeper into the practice of Project Management, we learn more everyday. Every project has got it’s own uniqueness and comes with it’s own trademark situations hence enhancing the learning process for all involved in that project. Just like in any area of science, be it Physics, Chemistry, Biotechnology etc., learning never stops and the same is true for Project Management too.
Throughout our history we have examples of mankind using Project Management. The pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, The Great Wall of China and our very own Taj Mahal are just a few of numerous such examples which stand as a testament to this fact. It would be really wonderful to go back in time and actually see how these managers of yore handled such huge mind-boggling projects. Can you imagine the amount of planning that would have gone into building the Great Pyramid of Giza? How wonderful it would feel to see these wizards put up the Stonehenge!
The relevance of Project Management has gained tremendous momentum in this day and age and will continue to do so as time progresses and the best part is that this process is not new or modern. It has been there since times immemorial.
Let me end this article by saying that we continue to learn more about and from Project Management as we apply it to our projects and also to our daily lives (though for the latter most of us are unaware that we are doing so!) and it continues to enrich our experience with it’s unique traits. Call it a management technique, an art or a science, the truth of the matter is that it is one of the most required disciplines today and is going to be with us and grow with us till we exist.
I came upon a very interesting quote the other day – “God had a huge project and he got it done in 7 days.”
It is always said and believed that God is omnipresent. Well so is Project Management!
Kyrus Antia, PMP

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