Well here’s my view. If project management (or delivering projects successfully, on a more often than not basis) were purely common sense, then the evidence to do with project delivery performance would tell a completely different story. For example, a UK report by the Royal Society of Engineering a few years ago quoted some frightening numbers on the cost overruns (in £) that is wasted each year in the UK on IT projects alone. There are many other examples from other industries to back this up this assertion.
It is an interesting thought as well that in many fields of business (engaged in projects) there are often professionals in abundance (i.e. degree or better qualified staff) working on those projects, and often they still produce disappointing results, i.e. unsuccessful, sometimes spectacularly so. You would suppose that this group could master what some say is just “common sense”, if this is true?
The reasons for poor project delivery can sometimes be complex, including:
– lack of real pressure (in some industries) for improved delivery performance
– lack of corporate capability relating to business level Governance of key projects
– lack of accountability of key individuals across the project for delivery performance
– issues of communication, poorly applied practices etc
The list could go on and on, and does depending partly on Geography and industry sector.
The best examples of project management practice are: a) relevant to the industry, technology (or domain) being managed, b) focused on the issues that are key to the sponsor or business; and c) are routinely employed by project teams as key disciplines which they get obvious value from; they do not consign them to the “we haven’t had time to do that yet” pile. In other words key professionals understand the relationship and difference between core project work and project management. In the history of the industrial era to date, evidence does not seem to support that this “common sense” prevails yet in buckets in most people in most organisations?
For more resources, see the Library topic Project Management.