Project Management: Introduction

"The price of a plan is implementation." A good plan that is never implemented is no better than no plan; a mediocre plan, well-implemented, may have more impact than a great plan poorly implemented. As with everything in else in planning and management, there is as much art as science to the process of implementation. But there are some "tools" which have been developed to make acquisition of the art at least a little less painful.

Project management means arranging the project tasks--and their resources (human and other)--in a sequence which facilitates their completion. Often, this is done by setting "milestones" to gauge one's progress. Sometimes, it is important not only to accomplish the project, but to do so with the minimum resources possible. Successful project management usually requires breaking the project into component tasks, figuring out the order in which the tasks must be completed, and assigning the necessary resources to each task.

There are a number of tools for project management, from the Gantt Chart to PERT Charts and the Critical Path Method. Peter Drucker (Management, 1973) identifies all three of these as derived from the work of Frederick Taylor's students around the time of World War I. In the Taylorite tradition, the "analysis of work" consisted of identification of all the activities needed to generate a product, rational organization of those activities to create the smoothest flow of work, analysis of each activity to redesign it as efficiently as possible, and integration of the various activities into the job. To these four, Drucker adds a fifth step which he argues is the first--defining the desired end product.

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1996 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 11 March 2005