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Has the Art Gone Out of Project Management?

Software is eating the world. So says Marc Andreessen, Netscape founder, pointing out that more and more businesses and industries are using software as a fundamental and essential plank in their operating platforms. That includes project management. Schedule pressure and complexity now means that automated project management applications are no longer a luxury, but indispensable. But software is ones and zeroes, yesses and noes, and no room for maybes. Does that mean that projects will now become number-crunching exercises and that experience and intuition can be consigned to the concept trash can?

Tools for the Project Scientist

There’s no denying that scientific methods play an important part in project success. Observation, analysis and calculation all help to map out workable project plans. They also allow potential conflicts to be identified and resolved ahead of time. And because scientific procedures can often be abstracted and automated, good software tools can multiply project scheduling power a thousand-fold or more, compare to previous manual methods. Oracle’s P6 Professional for example cuts right to the chase and flags scheduling problems in the most intricate of schedules. Similarly, Primavera Contract Management provides the technical assistance needed to manage contractors and subcontractors in order to stick to the schedule and the budget.

Art for Art’s Sake – and for Project Success

However, science on its own doesn’t guarantee a successful project – in fact, far from it. Whenever human beings are involved, which is most of the time, soft skills (not to be confused with software) become vitally important too. Communication, collaboration, feedback and judgment all come into play. With teams becoming increasingly distributed and virtual, the art of project management may be changing. But the art is still there, just as much as before. It’s for that reason that Oracle’s Instantis provides not only enterprise-wide project portfolio management, but also social media functionality to encourage exchanges of ideas and innovation across an organization.

Doing Things Right & Doing the Right Things

The art-science dichotomy is one way of looking at project management. Leadership (do the right things) and management (do things right) are important too. The right project management programs can help leaders make the right decisions. In the same way, they can considerably lighten the management load. So besides helping PM art and science, the Business Process Automation engine in Primavera Unifier can link processes, data, and documents across an organization to support effective leadership and management too.

Project Management Applications for a Balanced Approach

The smart money is therefore on project management tools that help teams in all these respects – the art, science, leadership and management of projects. Primavera Risk Analysis provides a solid platform on which to build understanding of what the outcomes of a project could be. Likewise, P6 Analytics homes in on project performance to show what’s working well and what needs attention. This knowledge then allows project teams to reinforce the probability that the results will meet expectations, and mitigate risks appropriately.  Good project management software like this supports project managers on all fronts, and empowers good judgment as well as providing automated efficiency.

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