Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is Project Management a Science or an Art

It is science from learning perspective and art in implementing what you learned in combination with other skills.

IT project success directly impact organization’s bottom line efficiency and top line growth, especially large, complex projects. However, more than two third of IT projects fail to reach customer expectation, so what’re the root causes, and is project management  science or art?

The management of projects is based on your leadership skills and style, which is more of an Art, but it is based on scientific methodology. Project management has put a baseline set of definitions, rules, typically a methodology, a schedule to follow and work products to develop. The Project Manager must assess the situation constantly and be able to get tasks done with the proper leadership style for that Institution. Project management & leadership are both art and science as it’s complimentary by skills, experience, competencies & capacities.

Part science, part art, often creative, always professional and occasionally magical, that’s what project management is. Project management requires the ability to think through,  and solve problems is being the paramount requirement in a PM  They have to demonstrate the experience of delivering value on time and to budget, be able to demonstrate that they can think out of the box and adapt where necessary. 

It is science from learning perspective and art in implementing what you learned in combination with other skills. Now place that knowledge in the hands of professional project managers who become intimate with the practices, tools and use of the knowledge, one must consider that as the transformation into the art form. Examples that illustrate that point can be:
• PMs that use a structured approach will deliver results quicker
• Choosing the right tool to get the right result to improve project quality
• Aligning the customer needs to project goals will increase overall satisfaction 

In reality, it is a hybrid of both Science and Art as the science gets interpreted and colored to suit the individual project and client. The art is always required to some degree, but there is no way you will succeed in a complex environment without thoroughly understanding and implementation of the science. One major part of the 'art' is knowing how much science you need for each project. It involves a lot of planning, processes, risk management and execution skills. It also requires an equal amount of people skills in identifying right team composition, task assignments based on people skills and understanding team chemistry. Even if you have all the right people in a project sometimes the project may fail or slip if the team does not work together very well. For some, PM is science as it is precise, exact and ca. n be accurately and logically represented and reused. For others think it is Art as it allows a great deal of interpretation and latitude, it has a scientific part where a lot of things are proven, repeatable, methodology that can be effectively used etc. On the other hand of the subjective part (art), one needs to apply more like 'soft' part to this profession. One need to have a good sense of the situation to make the right decision and often the decision make more subjective

It is both science and art. Project management per se is mainly science from best practices perspective, it gives a holistic view on considerations, approaches, structure and components. However, It is also about having a common sense approach, being able to think in a structured manner and having the ability to engage and communicate. it is possibly more of an art. So it is art and science. One needs to develop capabilities or the art of understanding the team members and the customers (internal /external) and the Science of available technology, standards, quality etc. It is a mix of this art and science which helps in governance, open communication, realistic expectations, and a mutually acceptable deadline for deliveries

Project management is an "art" of scientific application to make all fit and be flexible. Any sufficiently complex activity or endeavor that exceeds the capacity of a purely analytic and logical process crosses the boundary is from Science into Art. Sometimes you have to trust your gut and do things outside the box. Things only become systematic and best practices after others have learned the hard way through creativity, innovation, trial and error, and taking risks to find a better way. Perhaps the even tougher question about PM should be: What’s the golden ratio in project management, 20% of science and 80% of art or the other way around?












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PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. Recently I went for a PMP prep course by the training provider mentioned above, Instructor was too good and I passed with relative ease. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP class in my company.

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