INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF

PROJECT MANAGEMENT
International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman

Editorial

Towards a theory of project management: The nature of the functions of project management

In my editorial in the last three issues of the journal, I have been trying to develop a theory of Project Management. Through a series of premises and lemmas, I have attempted to derive a structure of Project Management, and identify inherent elements of Project Management:  In the first article, I looked at the nature of projects  In the second article, I looked at the nature of project management  In the third article, I showed that what I in my books (1,2) call the five functions of project management are inherent In this article, I want to show that the tools required to manage some of those five functions should have inherent features. The five functions are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. managing managing managing managing managing scope project organization quality cost time

Scope management Scope management is the management of the work of the project. At Premise 1, I said a project is a temporary organization to which resources are assigned to do work to deliver beneficial change. So that work needs to be managed. Define the objectives The first step is to define the objectives of scope management. The objectives of the project are to deliver the beneficial change, and so we need to define the change, and the benefit. I previously showed that projects are fractal (Lemma 8) and that breakdown structure, and particularly here product breakdown structure, is an inherent component of project management (Corollary 8). So we use product breakdown structure (PBS) to define the objectives of the project, and hence scope management, and to break those objectives down to components and sub-components. Product breakdown is the start of scope management. Define the means

The steps of management Premise 3 defined governance as the structure through which we  define the objectives  define the means of obtaining the objectives  define the means of monitoring progress This defines the three basic steps that have to be followed to manage each of the five functions. At Lemma 7, I also said the steps of management could be defined as:  planning what has to be done  organizing by deciding who is responsible for what  implementing by getting people to take on that responsibility  controlling progress as the work is done

The work is the means of obtaining the objectives. So the next step of scope management is to define the work. That is done through the work breakdown (WBS), also identified at Corollary 8 as an essential tool. The tools for managing scope must therefore combine product breakdown and work breakdown. So far we have reached these conclusions by theoretical means. To identify appropriate tools we need to turn to experience, and that tells us that configuration management is a tool which combines product and work breakdown which is useful for managing scope. I called this Empiricism 1. Defining the means also includes defining the people who will do the work. So we have to define (some of) the project organization. Corollary 8 also tells us we can use organization breakdown (OBS) for that.

0263-7863/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.03.002

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Editorial / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279

Combining the product breakdown and organization breakdown at a given level defines the work breakdown. It tells us who will do what to deliver what products. Experience tells us that responsibility charts (1,2) are a useful tool for doing that. Empiricism 3: Responsibility charts are a useful tool for combining product, organization and work breakdown and for defining project organization. Now I depart for a bit from the theoretical discussion to express my own views. The way many people talk you might be forgiven for thinking that the work breakdown was some fundamental property of the project which exists independently of the people doing the work. I disagree. If anything is a fundamental property it is the product breakdown; the definition of the work is influenced by the people doing it. It is a social construct. Thus the work breakdown and the organization have to be developed together and iteratively. If there is an order we should define these things it is PBS then OBS then WBS. Many people do it in the reverse order. But you might argue that product breakdown is itself influenced by the people doing the work and so all three should be developed together and iteratively. Quality management Next we turn our attention to quality management. Define the objectives First, we need to consider what we want to manage the quality of. Premise 1 (and the above discussion) tells us we want to manage the quality of the project’s product, and Corollary 8 (and the above discussion) suggests we can

do that through the product breakdown. We also want the project to be managed well, so we want to manage the quality of the management process, so we need to define objectives for that. Thus, we have derived the first two elements of my five element model for managing quality in projects, Fig. 1 (1,2). We need to manage the quality of  the product  the management process Corollary 18a: On projects we need to manage the quality of the product and the management process. Define the means of achieving the objectives This Quality Assurance. We define how we will achieve good quality on projects. This is the third element of my five element model. Corollary 18b: Quality Assurance is an inherent element of quality management on projects. Define the means of monitoring performance This is Quality Control, and is the fourth element of my five element model. Corollary 18c: Quality Control is an inherent element of quality management on projects. Corollary 18d: There are four inherent components of quality management on projects:     assurance of the quality of the product control of the quality of the product assurance of the quality of the management process control of the quality of the management process

Quality Assurance Right first time

The best way of achieving these four things mainly derives from empirical evidence. We can say from control theory that control should follow a classic feed back loop:     plan for the desired results monitor the results that are actually achieved calculate the difference take action to eliminate the differences

Quality of Product Quality of Management Process Attitudes Quality Control Zero defect

But again how those four steps are best achieved can only be determined empirically. The fifth and final element of my five element model, that we should maintain good attitudes to achieve quality also only derives from observation. Empiricism 4: Good attitudes are essential for achieving good quality on projects.

Fig. 1. Five element model of good quality.

Editorial / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279

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Managing time and cost Similar arguments apply for managing time and cost. We need to define  the objectives  the means of achieving the objectives  the means of monitoring progress Controlling progress will follow a classic feedback loop:     define the objectives monitor performance calculate variances take action to recover the plan

the cost variance, but in Project Management has become known as the Cost Performance Index. When applied to Project Management this standard accounting practice becomes Earned Value Analysis. So we see how accounting theory enlightens Project Management Theory. Similarly the more recently developed theory of Operations Research suggests how we can manage and control time on projects. Because this theory is more recently developed than the accounting theory from which Earned Value Analysis derives, I was only willing to say it is based on empirical evidence (Empiricism 2) rather than being theoretically derived. In the next issue I am going to look at programme and portfolio management and the management of the projectbased organization. References
[1] Turner JR. The handbook of project-based management. 2nd ed. London: McGraw-Hill; 1999. [2] Turner JR. The management large projects and programmes for web delivery. Aldershot: Gower; 2004.

I suggested at Lemma 9 that 500 years of accounting theory suggests that to manage cost we should plan for the amount of work to be performed and the cost of that work. Then we should calculate the difference between the amount of work planned and the amount of work performed. In accounting theory this is called the volume variance, but in Project Management has become known as the Schedule Performance Index, SPI. We should also calculate the difference between the cost of the work performed and the plan. In accounting theory this is called

J. Rodney Turner 1 Lille School of Management E-mail address: rodneyturner@europrojex.co.uk

1 Present address: Wildwood, Manor Close, East Horsley, Surrey KT24 6SA, United Kingdom. Tel./fax: +44 1483282344.

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