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Defining Project Management

Robert Spann
Professor Glenda Dilts
January 10, 2015


Defining Project Management

My only experience with project management is from the many years I have spent in the
military. Therefore, it seems only fitting that I define it how the military would. Project
management is the conducting of a mission by a leader and their team utilizing all currently
available resources within the specified timetable. However, does that mean I really understand
what project management means in the civilian world?
To assess my understanding I must civilianize my military understanding. The
Department of Defense publishes a dictionary that can aid in this endeavor. A mission is a task
with a clearly specified action, purpose, and reason (Department of Defense, 2014). A leader is
an individual that manages or controls other people due to ability or position (Leader). The
definition of a team is recognized as being group of people who work together to perform a
mission or collective task (Team). Lastly, resources are forces, materiel, and other assets or
capabilities apportioned or allocated (Department of Defense, 2014). Armed with these
definitions I can summarize project management as the managing of a group of people and
allocated assets to perform a task with an unmistakably defined action, reason, and purpose.
Looking at the literal definition of each word in project management may determine if I
do understand the civilian world meaning of project management. The Merriam-Webster
dictionary defines project as a planned piece of work that has a specific purpose and that usually
requires a lot of time (Project). Management is defined as the conducting or supervising of
something (Management). Taking these two definitions it can be determined that project
management plainly means the act of supervising a planned piece of work that has a specific
purpose requiring a lot of time. This does sound pretty similar to what I have learned in the
military, but not as close as I had thought.


For a better understanding of program management I decided to look to the authority for
the project, program and portfolio management profession; the Project Management Institute.
PMI has defined program management as the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to
execute projects effectively and efficiently (What is Project Management). Additionally, PMI
states that a project has a defined scope, resources, and time frame (What is Project
Management). Building on this information I can determine that PMI believes that program
management is the use of abilities, expertise, and procedures to successfully complete a project
having a defined scope, resources, and time frame (What is Project Management). This seems to
be closer to what I have learned from the Army.
In conclusion, I learned what program management is from the Armys viewpoint. What
I have found is that it does in fact translate into the same thing as defined by the civilian sector.



Department of Defense. (2014). Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated

Terms. Washington, DC: Department of Defense.
Leader. (n.d.). Retrieved Jan 10, 2015, from Cambridge Dictionaries Online:
Management. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2015, from Merriam Webster Online:
Project. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2015, from Merriam Webster Online:
Team. (n.d.). Retrieved Jan 10, 2015, from Federation of American Scientists:
What is Project Management. (n.d.). Retrieved Jan 10, 2015, from Project Management Institute: