Project Management Summary

So I finished my first foray into learning the PMBoK approach to project management and have some more observations.  There’s a lot of detail in the PMBoK method:  4 phases of the life cycle (CDEF), 9 knowledge areas, 5 process groups, 42 distinct processes, 6 constraints.  It’s very complex and, to my simple mind, cumbersome. I prefer simplicity (who doesn’t?).

It seems to me that one way to simplify this beast is to think in terms of three major outputs or documents from the whole process:

  1. Project Charter
  2. Project Management Plan(s)
  3. Project Closure Report

The Project Charter is, of course, the linchpin for the entire process. It defines the overall scope and justification for the project as well as the key players. It is sort of the Declaration of Independence for a project– “we hold these truths….” Without a solid Project Charter, the project will go no where.

Once a Project Charter has been developed and endorsed, all of the project effort is focused on the Project Management Plan (PMP).  First the PMP must be conceived and developed, activities that entail a lot of smaller tasks and processes. Depending on the nature and scope of the project, developing the PMP could be easy and of short duration or difficult involving lots of time and effort. Likewise the initial PMP could be short and simple or long and complex. But like the U.S. Constitution, the PMP provides detail and framework based on the Project Charter and it is subject to amendment and modification as the project proceeds.  When an initial PMP is ready, execution of its contents is conducted with “progressive elaboration.”  That execution ultimately leads to the project’s closure– whether it is successful or not.

Finally, once the project is completed (terminated), a Project Closure Report should be prepared that provides a summary of the project: successes and failures, outcomes achieved, outstanding issues, lessons learned, identified best practices.

It seems that the PMBoK method provides lots of detail on those major pieces of a project, but at heart I think that the Project Charter, the Project Management Plan, and the Project Closure Report represent the foundational structure of successful projects.