Project Management

The next big thing

by Greg Hutchins

What is predicted to be the next big movement for work and organizational transformation will likely surprise you.

In the last 10 years, work has gotten tougher. Much more needs to be done faster, better and cheaper while making many more stakeholders happy. The solution: project management. Whether you're a quality manager or consultant, one of the best steps you can take to enhance your work and career is to learn and practice project management. Here are some tips:

Projectize to minimize risks. If just one person slips, a whole company may stumble. Remember the Exxon Valdez? The Captain made a mistake. Intel slipped when it launched a Pentium chip without debugging it thoroughly. Coke launched a new soda formula that flopped. These were big blunders, but there are thousands of slip-ups every day. The conventional business wisdom now is to prevent errors by projectizing work with hard accountabilities, due dates, quality and cost controls.

Projectize virtual work. As communication becomes transparent and seamless, virtual work, such as telecommuting or virtual teaming, has become more practical. Work becomes something that's done as opposed to somewhere to go. Project management is a way for companies to manage telecommuters or people working from offshore locations.

Integrate process management (quality) and project management. More work is both core processed and projectized. While companies are focusing and developing their core competencies, all other work is projectized. More work gurus think projects are the solution for getting the right things done right and on time. It's not a matter of simply having a few more projects, but rather projectizing many core and noncore processes.

Join the Project Management Institute. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a 45,000 member association. PMI membership is currently growing at rates of 30 to 40% a year. Project software has been developed, and thousands of people are taking project management classes.

Learn and use project management. PMI has developed a project management body of knowledge (PMBOK). It's a generalized model for projectizing work in such areas as pharmaceuticals, software development or construction management.

The basic methodology is nothing special. The typical project follows a cycle of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing--pretty familiar stuff. What makes it special is that nine knowledge areas--project integration, scope, risk, human resources, quality, cost, time, communications and quality--are integrated into the framework seamlessly. And PMI wants to eventually develop the PMBOK into an international project standard. The PMBOK can be downloaded at no cost from www.pmi.org.

Become a project management guru. Leaders launch revolutions. This is what happened with quality. W. Edwards Deming, J.M. Juran and Philip B. Crosby became quality genius-evangelists who articulated and then proselytized the quality vision.

Project management is taking off a little differently. There are no project management gurus like quality's big three. On the other hand, thousands of lesser lights are reinventing how work is done using virtual project teams and the PMBOK methodology.

What's the future? I think ASQ and quality's next explosive growth will come from work visionaries who can integrate process management (quality) with project management. Who'll that be? Maybe you.

Develop a generally transferable, organizational model for projectizing work. Many are working on this, but few seem to be close to the holy grail. If you can develop the model, then you're our next Deming, Juran or Crosby.

GREG HUTCHINS is a principal of Quality Plus Engineering in Portland, OR, and the author of Working It: The Rules Have Changed, available through ASQ Quality Press (item P740). He is a Senior Member of ASQ.

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