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What The Hell Is Project Management, Anyway?

This interview from Fast Company features Frank Ryle, 20 year veteran of project management. In the interview Ryle provides honest and unfettered opinions on what project management does right, what it could do better, and how people misunderstand its use in the most basic way. One of Ryle’s sticking points is the use of technology: too many companies get a “swiss army knife” when they really only need a toothpick. His big issue is that the tool isn’t a means to an end, it’s simply a way to be more efficient. The solution is to have project tools that account for all parts of a project — the hard data and soft data — in order to provide intelligent insight: There are people who get lost in projects, but we never know. People will ask them, “How’s this project going?”, and the response is, “I’m fine, but what have you heard?” We need tools that are like a GPS in a car–they take information from three or four satellites, or, in this case, multiple clues. Software that’s aware of everything–the weather outside, price estimates, maybe even politics, in international situations. The interviewer (Kevin Purdy) goes on to ask what the single best piece of advice Ryle has ever given concerning project management. His answer is to create a work breakdown structure. Having a WBS in place helps estimates be more accurate and inherently keeps your projects on task.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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