The Value of Project Management

“To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for that which would be his finest hour.” Winston Churchill

Someone asked me about the value of project management the other day. They understood that project managers organized meetings, made sure that work is done on time, confirmed quality, and managed milestones and deliverables. But they couldn’t understand why someone who was working on the project couldn’t do that work. Why was it necessary to have a project manager be part of the project being delivered by experts?

I must admit that I didn’t have an answer at the time. If someone hadn’t known about the technical aspects of Project Management, I would have explained. Project Management is about helping people deliver quality results while keeping people on schedule, within scope, and within budget. But this person knew all about this. I didn’t have anything further to add to their understanding of the value of Project Management.

Protecting People

After reflection, I realized that I knew the value of Project Management, I just hadn’t articulated it about project management.

Project Management is about providing a safe spot for the experts to do their work. Project Management creates a ‘circle of safety‘ for all of the stakeholders involved in the project. Whether it is the person doing the work, or the person receiving the result, the Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that they have the best experience possible in this project. The Project Manager is the only person who has the bird’s eye view of this project. Other managers may be aware of what the experts are working on, or the end-users are experiencing. But the Project Manager is the captain who guides the ship into the right port so that everyone arrives safely.

The value of project management isn’t technical reports or documentation. In the same way, the importance of having an accountant isn’t that you have financial statements produced. The reason that you have an accountant is that the value of the work that you are doing can be expressed and quantified. (Most often done through Financial Statements.)

The value of Project Management isn’t that found by following the project plan. The importance of project management is to enable everyone to be ready when they are tapped on the shoulder and to do their best work when they step up to the plate.