Project Management Basics
Last updated: 2022-03-06
Project management basics, as we present them here, summarize some basic
thoughts we assume as general prerequisites across this whole web
Internal and External Projects
Except in section Project Portfolio Management, where we present aspects of project management on an enterprise level, and in sub-section Contract Management, we do not clearly differentiate between internal and external
projects of an organization. A differentiating characteristic could be
the existence of a contract that is signed by at least two legal
entities, usually a customer and a supplier. In such a case, the
supplier agrees to deliver a certain project scope, and the customer
agrees to pay for that. From the view of the supplier, we could call this an external project. Other projects the supplier's organization is undertaking would be internal projects.
A power generating company (= customer) contracts an electrical
engineering company (= supplier) for engineering and construction of a
new power plant. From the view of the electrical engineering company,
this would be an external project.
That same electrical engineering company decides to extend their
portfolio by developing a new type of switch for high voltage DC of up
to 400 kV. From their point of view this would be an internal project.
The electrical engineering company decides to undergo a major
restructuring procedure in order to make their service business become
an integral part of their turnkey project business. Therefore, they
start a restructuring project for that purpose. This is another internal
project for that company.
Actually, we consider this a rather artificial differentiation
that might only have academic value, if at all. The reason why we think
so is that even for those so-called internal projects, we have
customer-supplier-like relationships. In example (2), the marketing and
sales department acts like a customer who "contracts" the research and
development department for developing the new switch; in example (3),
the management board of that company acts like a customer, and
"contracts" the service and the turnkey projects departments to carry
out the restructuring project. In these two cases, we just will not have
formal contracts in place, whereas informal contracts could very well
For that reason, we consciously avoid the differentiation between internal and external projects. As one of our project management basics, we rather adopt the assumption that in each and every project we will have several different (legal) entities willing to contribute to the success of a project they jointly undertake.
Project Management Framework
In section Project Portfolio Management, sub-section Multi Project Management,
we present aspects of organizing for projects, especially the idea of
the project management office (PMO). The PMO usually refers to a special
department in an organization which identifies and supports internal
standards of project management processes. Some organizations call the
PMO their project management framework.
In our understanding, a project management framework does not
only refer to a department taking care of project management processes,
but in fact the framework of those processes themselves. In that, it is a
framework of processes and rules that describe how we should practice
Project Management Technique
Project management, as described in most of the available literature,
and described on this web site as well, is based on a classical way of
solving problems: we encounter a problem, describe it, decompose it into
smaller parts and sub-parts, solve the sub-parts and the parts of it in
form of sub-solutions, and compose an overall solution to the original
problem out of the sub-solutions.
This represents the project management version of the general
problem solving technique of analysis and synthesis: analyze the problem
into smaller parts (PBS and WBS), create solutions for the parts, and synthesize these into a solution of the whole, represented by a project plan and its implementation.
These are our project management basics and in that sense, what we present on this web site, we also can call project management technique: analysis, followed by synthesis.
35+ templates, tools, and checklists in one set
To save you time in your daily work as a project manager, I packaged more than 35 project management templates, tools, and checklists into one zip file.
- You un-zip it, and you get all items in formats you can edit to your requirements.
- They strictly contain only standard functionality and no macros or other code.
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