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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF

PROJECT
MANAGEMENT
International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279
www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman

Editorial

Towards a theory of project management: The nature


of the functions of project management

In my editorial in the last three issues of the journal, I Scope management


have been trying to develop a theory of Project Manage-
ment. Through a series of premises and lemmas, I have at- Scope management is the management of the work of
tempted to derive a structure of Project Management, and the project. At Premise 1, I said a project is a temporary
identify inherent elements of Project Management: organization to which resources are assigned to do work
to deliver beneficial change. So that work needs to be
 In the first article, I looked at the nature of projects managed.
 In the second article, I looked at the nature of project
management Define the objectives
 In the third article, I showed that what I in my books (1,2)
call the five functions of project management are inherent The first step is to define the objectives of scope
management. The objectives of the project are to deliver
In this article, I want to show that the tools required to the beneficial change, and so we need to define the change,
manage some of those five functions should have inherent and the benefit. I previously showed that projects are frac-
features. The five functions are: tal (Lemma 8) and that breakdown structure, and particu-
larly here product breakdown structure, is an inherent
1. managing scope component of project management (Corollary 8). So we
2. managing project organization use product breakdown structure (PBS) to define the objec-
3. managing quality tives of the project, and hence scope management, and to
4. managing cost break those objectives down to components and sub-com-
5. managing time ponents. Product breakdown is the start of scope
management.
The steps of management
Define the means
Premise 3 defined governance as the structure through
which we The work is the means of obtaining the objectives. So
the next step of scope management is to define the work.
 define the objectives That is done through the work breakdown (WBS), also
 define the means of obtaining the objectives identified at Corollary 8 as an essential tool. The tools
 define the means of monitoring progress for managing scope must therefore combine product
breakdown and work breakdown. So far we have reached
This defines the three basic steps that have to be fol- these conclusions by theoretical means. To identify appro-
lowed to manage each of the five functions. At Lemma 7, priate tools we need to turn to experience, and that tells us
I also said the steps of management could be defined as: that configuration management is a tool which combines
product and work breakdown which is useful for managing
 planning what has to be done scope. I called this Empiricism 1.
 organizing by deciding who is responsible for what Defining the means also includes defining the people
 implementing by getting people to take on that who will do the work. So we have to define (some of) the
responsibility project organization. Corollary 8 also tells us we can use
 controlling progress as the work is done organization breakdown (OBS) for that.

0263-7863/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.03.002
278 Editorial / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279

Combining the product breakdown and organization do that through the product breakdown. We also want
breakdown at a given level defines the work breakdown. the project to be managed well, so we want to manage
It tells us who will do what to deliver what products. Expe- the quality of the management process, so we need to de-
rience tells us that responsibility charts (1,2) are a useful fine objectives for that.
tool for doing that. Thus, we have derived the first two elements of my five
element model for managing quality in projects, Fig. 1
Empiricism 3: Responsibility charts are a useful tool for
(1,2). We need to manage the quality of
combining product, organization and work breakdown
and for defining project organization.
 the product
Now I depart for a bit from the theoretical discussion to  the management process
express my own views. The way many people talk you might
be forgiven for thinking that the work breakdown was some Corollary 18a: On projects we need to manage the quality
fundamental property of the project which exists indepen- of the product and the management process.
dently of the people doing the work. I disagree. If anything
is a fundamental property it is the product breakdown; the
Define the means of achieving the objectives
definition of the work is influenced by the people doing it.
It is a social construct. Thus the work breakdown and the
This Quality Assurance. We define how we will achieve
organization have to be developed together and iteratively.
good quality on projects. This is the third element of my
If there is an order we should define these things it is PBS
five element model.
then OBS then WBS. Many people do it in the reverse order.
But you might argue that product breakdown is itself influ- Corollary 18b: Quality Assurance is an inherent element of
enced by the people doing the work and so all three should quality management on projects.
be developed together and iteratively.
Define the means of monitoring performance
Quality management
This is Quality Control, and is the fourth element of my
Next we turn our attention to quality management. five element model.
Corollary 18c: Quality Control is an inherent element of
Define the objectives quality management on projects.

First, we need to consider what we want to manage the Corollary 18d: There are four inherent components of qual-
quality of. Premise 1 (and the above discussion) tells us we ity management on projects:
want to manage the quality of the project’s product, and
Corollary 8 (and the above discussion) suggests we can  assurance of the quality of the product
 control of the quality of the product
 assurance of the quality of the management process
 control of the quality of the management process

The best way of achieving these four things mainly


Quality Assurance derives from empirical evidence. We can say from control
Right first time theory that control should follow a classic feed back
loop:

Quality of  plan for the desired results


Product  monitor the results that are actually achieved
 calculate the difference
Quality of  take action to eliminate the differences
Management
Process But again how those four steps are best achieved can
only be determined empirically.
Quality Control The fifth and final element of my five element model,
Attitudes
Zero defect that we should maintain good attitudes to achieve quality
also only derives from observation.
Empiricism 4: Good attitudes are essential for achieving
Fig. 1. Five element model of good quality. good quality on projects.
Editorial / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 277–279 279

Managing time and cost the cost variance, but in Project Management has become
known as the Cost Performance Index. When applied to
Similar arguments apply for managing time and cost. Project Management this standard accounting practice be-
We need to define comes Earned Value Analysis. So we see how accounting
theory enlightens Project Management Theory.
 the objectives Similarly the more recently developed theory of Opera-
 the means of achieving the objectives tions Research suggests how we can manage and control
 the means of monitoring progress time on projects. Because this theory is more recently devel-
oped than the accounting theory from which Earned Value
Controlling progress will follow a classic feedback loop: Analysis derives, I was only willing to say it is based on
empirical evidence (Empiricism 2) rather than being theo-
 define the objectives retically derived.
 monitor performance In the next issue I am going to look at programme and
 calculate variances portfolio management and the management of the project-
 take action to recover the plan based organization.

I suggested at Lemma 9 that 500 years of accounting


theory suggests that to manage cost we should plan for References
the amount of work to be performed and the cost of that
[1] Turner JR. The handbook of project-based management. 2nd
work. Then we should calculate the difference between
ed. London: McGraw-Hill; 1999.
the amount of work planned and the amount of work per- [2] Turner JR. The management large projects and programmes
formed. In accounting theory this is called the volume var- for web delivery. Aldershot: Gower; 2004.
iance, but in Project Management has become known as
the Schedule Performance Index, SPI. We should also cal- J. Rodney Turner 1
culate the difference between the cost of the work per- Lille School of Management
formed and the plan. In accounting theory this is called E-mail address: rodneyturner@europrojex.co.uk

1
Present address: Wildwood, Manor Close, East Horsley, Surrey KT24
6SA, United Kingdom. Tel./fax: +44 1483282344.