Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success

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Projects And Project Management Are Different Things

Almost every week I read more than one article that gets confused over the difference between a project and project management or, worse still, use the two interchangeably. They're well-meaning of course, but if you're new to the profession, you'll likely start with a skewed view of what it is.

The two obviously require each other to coexist (like Morecambe and Wise, but not as funny) but are very different things. One you can learn about quite quickly, whilst the other takes time, effort, failure, change and success.

So for those out there that are confused, here are 15 things about projects and project management that you need to be aware of:

  1. A project is a temporary structure; project management is a skill for life

  2. A project is defined by the scope, cost, time and quality of the 'thing' being delivered to the customer; project management is defined by the leadership skills, culture building abilities and methods used by an individual

  3. The success of a project is measured by its performance against the time, cost and quality you set at the start; the success of project management is measured by customer (and team) satisfaction

  4. Project success should be celebrated by the organisation; project management success should be celebrated by the individual (quietly in a corner somewhere)

  5. Failing projects should be stopped and project management should recommend that they are, not watch them fail and point the finger

  6. When projects fail, project management is almost always culpable; when project management fails, projects are not culpable, an individual is

  7. In order to deliver any project successfully, you need good project management; in order for project management to be successful, it needs organisations to value the service that good project managers provide

  8. If you decide to call something a project, that doesn't make you a project manager

  9. Studying a book for 5 days, passing an exam and receiving a certificate doesn't make you a project manager, it means you understand a method that supports the business of project management

  10. Project Managers do not own projects, they deliver them

  11. Projects are implemented; Project Managers are hired, developed and mentored

  12. Bad projects can still be implemented by good project managers

  13. Good projects can be ruined by bad project managers

  14. Projects should be continually assessed for the value they add to an organisation; so should project managers

  15. Projects are diverse, interesting and transformative; project management should be likewise.

Project subject matter can be confusing, however, that doesn't mean that we should get confused about what project management needs to do. Hopefully, this has helped and if I've missed any, let me know!

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