Niwot Ridge Resources

A Source of Information for Mission Critical Software Systems, Management Processes, and Strategies

Project Management Theory

There is much discussion these days about the theory of project management. this includes participation from many quarters, ranging from traditional approaches based on PMBOK to extreme and agile approaches based on evolutionary design concepts.

One though is to assemble a taxonomy of project management "methods" or "styles" in an attempt to sort out the chaff from the wheat.

The diagram below is a starting point for this discussion. It consists of several ideas assembled in one place.

  • Project methods consist of Normative, Rational, and Participative styles

  • Project management techniques consist of Transformational, Flow Management, and Value Generation.

  • Mechanisms for managing projects consist of Tools, Techniques, and "Management"

The image I have of these relations is provided in Project Theory Framework.

This framework is used in the paper, "Is There an Underlying Theory of Project Management? (A Critique of the Transformational and Normative Views of Project Management"

Project Management Theory Research

There is a vast amount of research on the "theory of project management." This list is just the tip of the iceberg for this topic.

Gantt Charts

There's been some discussion on the forum's about Gantt charts and there use and misuse. One place to start is with the following essays on Project Management processes:

Edward Tufte's site for his Envisioning Information books

Program Management

Small Multiples for Project Trends

"Cognitive Technology in Production Scheduling," Vincent C. S. Wiers.

PERT and Critical Path

On a recent forum there was mention that ...

PERT/CPM fails as a predictive tool is quite obvious and has been proven ad nauseum. That many continue to use it as a predictive tool could lead one to choose to be cynical about the state of the art or to employ one of the many compensating techniques which can help recover from PERT/CPM's obvious shortcomings.

Since I use PERT, Critical Path, and other "planning in the presence of uncertainty" tools every day on complex projects, I was troubled by the lack of understanding not only for the tools used by professional PM's but for the current "state of the art."

The following list is research I developed while sorting out the confusion. The authors of the position above (italics) have yet to provide any real world evidence for their conjecture, but hope springs eternal.

The Alternatives Of Estimating PERT Activity Times And Standard Deviations

Crashing PERT Networks: A Simulation Approach

Strong Monotonicity in PERT Problems

Near-Critical Path Analysis of Program Activity Graphs, Cedell Alexander, Donna Reese, and James Harden, NSF Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation Mississippi State University.


Integrated Master Plan / Integrated Master Schedule (IMP/IMS)

IMP/IMS is a useful tool for integrating project participants. A resource page is available for documents and presentations on IMP/IMS.

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