Projec t manageme nt has been around for centuries. After all, how
do you think the Pyramids were built? Organizations have come to recognize
that a lot of the work they do is project-oriented. And when they realize that
good project management can save both time and money, that’s about the
time that people like you receive the call to be a project manager.
You aren’t the only one. Membership in the Project Management Institute (PMI),
a professional organization for project managers founded in 1969, reached 8,500
in 1990. Its membership topped 100,000 in 2003 and, by the end of 2010, was
330,000. More than 400,000 people have earned the Project Management Professional
If you have little or no formal education in project management, congratulations,
you’ve become an accidental project manager. You probably earned the
assignment because you’re dependable and good at organizing your work.
However, you may have only a vague idea of what you’re supposed to do or
what it takes to succeed. To compound the challenge, Microsoft Project can
seem like a Japanese puzzle box—getting a handle on one feature leads to
another feature that you don’t understand.
Even if you know your way around a Gantt chart and can build a decent
schedule in Project, chances are that nagging problems come up on the
projects you manage. That’s why project managers are so valuable. Nagging
problems always come up on projects. By learning more about how to manage
projects, you can prevent many problems and you can reduce the impact
of many others. For example, scope creep is an all-too-common problem in
which one small change to project scope after another sneaks into your plan
until you have no chance of meeting your schedule or budget. Setting up a
process for managing changes gives the project team the opportunity to say
no to changes that aren’t that important and to say yes to important changes
even if they require a little more time or a little more money.