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Most commentators on Project Management are not bold in pointing out whether project management is specifically a science or an art. They most often consider project management to be of the two forms. MPUG (2012), for instance defines project management stating that “Project management is the science (and art) of organizing the components of a project, whether the project is development of a new product or the launch of a new service.” The Project Management Institute (2012), on its part explains that project management is “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently.” But indeed even if project management is both a science and an art, it will be shifted towards one side than the other. Considering the fact that in The Standish Group (2009), there were more reports of unstable rate of success and chaos with the implementation of various project management exercises, it would be said that project management is more of an art than a science. This point is taken because if project management was more of a science, then it should be guided by a clearly defined and replicable system of application. Due to the replicable nature of it, it should have been possible to ensure the same kind of results whenever it is applied. Indeed art forms are more unpredictable and this accounts for reasons why the success rate of various projects that have followed the project management principle keeps dwindling by the day. Finally, Ponce (2010) is of the position that at the assessment stage of the project management scheme, there often arises more questions than answers. This is a clear indication that project management is more of an art than science because if it was more of a science, there would have been a definite set of question to deal with.
What Success in Project Management Means
It will be noted that as part of the project management process, there is the setting of goals. This goal defines the exact expectation of the project and what project managers want to get out of a particular project. Sight must not be lost of the fact that project management does not always concern itself with very huge international accomplishments but may be as little as the planning of a wedding or even a birthday party. So success may be defined from the achievement of the goals that were set at the onset of the planning stage of the project management process. As much as possible, the end result should reflect the achievement of all forms of goals that were set. The Chairman of the Standish Group gives indication of some of the areas to look at success from. First, he mentions that the project must be delivered on time. In all project management plans, there is the setting of time for the completion of the project.
Timing is very important because there are cases were detailed projects have been as insignificant as though the projects were not started at all. A typical example happened in a case of a television crew who were to shoot the occurrence of the eclipse of the sun. They had done all their publicity and everyone was glued by the television set waiting to watch the total eclipse live on television. The project execution could not go on well and so the crew arrived so late that by the time they got ready to shoot, the eclipse had ended. The broadcasting went on any way but only to interview people on their impression about the eclipse. This delayed project was indeed worth not carrying it out at all because it could not fulfill what was advertised. The success of the project also depends on achieving the budget target, the required feature and the functions (Standish Group, 2009).
Failure in Project Management
Project failures are not always bad. In fact there is a saying that once your goods fall off, you learn how to arrange them better. Failures with projects are not what the ultimate aim of the project managers and planners have been. All managers and planners set out project management plans with the aim of achieving their set targets. Unfortunately though, there are times that not all things work together according to plan. They are faced with circumstances that lead to failure. All in all, these failures if their causes are detected would become important indicators of places not to tread in their next attempts. Failure actually has the potential of giving project managers a lot of experience and ideas. It makes them future victors (Koranteng, 2009). It will be true therefore to argue that failures in project management are most often associated with first starters. This is because starters are deprived of previous experiences and in some cases, previous mistakes to learn from. Having acknowledged that failure is not always a bad thing, it would be concluded that project managers should always be very deep minded and non-myopic. They should not always only look for successes. Failures are likely to happen but the best of failure can be achieved if they will be alert to identify the causes of the failure and rectify those mistakes in subsequent projects. It is not being preached that project managers should celebrate their failure but they could document the causes of the failures to serve as red flags on areas to avoid in subsequent projects.
What we know about the project management process
So far, it has been learnt that the project management process is a complex relativity of expediting the initiation of a given project. The project management process may be described both as a science and an art but it is more of an art because it does not follow a rigid system of implementation though there are generally accepted steps to follow in getting project delivered. In his four (4) step approach, Ponce (2010) gives the four steps needed in getting flagging project back on track as assessing the situation, preparing the team for recovery, developing a game plan for recovery and executing the game plan. These are steps specifically for projects that have been through some existing difficulties. With projects that are to start from the scratch, there are general steps or stages given by MPUG (2012) as defining the project, planning for the project, executing the project, controlling the project and closing the project. This complexities that are know about the project management process, be it from the beginning or for an existing project have been summed Project Connection (2012), who state that “Project management is often implemented in an ad hoc way, in an uneasy marriage with deeply entrenched corporate command and control structures.” This means that the project management process would always act as a malleable system, want to get a rigid structure implemented.
Concluding, it would be said that project management is an important system for getting projects executed in success. As much as possible, project managers should see far beyond the stipulated steps and stages given in project management process to abreast themselves with dynamism and innovation. This is because as an art, they are free to show their innovative skills by coming up with new trends in their project management processes to ensure that they achieve success in style. Again on the path of implementation, they should be ready to take any thing – even failure. This is because failure may be very good avenue for showing them what to avoid the next time round.