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Project Management Fundamentals Never Go Out of Style

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Project Management FundamentalsIt’s always fun to read the reflections and prognostications this time of year about what’s happening in the project world. Indeed, we have our own collection of what we see as emerging trends in the fields of project management, business analysis, and Agile. We’ve been doing this for many years. With so many trends over the years, the sum of these year-over-year changes would seem to suggest that project management or business analysis aren’t recognizable from what they were years ago.

Yet, the best project management fundamentals never go out of style. Within those fundamentals, business people and teams may organize differently, tools evolve, and language gets modified. The core nuts and bolts in project management, however, are as important today as they ever have been.

For that reason, I often recommend a project management fundamentals course for young people who are looking to get their foot in the door for their first professional position somewhere. Understanding the basics in PM, including the classic triple constraint, for example, is terrific table-setting upon which someone can apply additional understanding of how to plug into projects in their environment.

Understanding the dynamics and decisions related to defining and managing time, cost, and scope are essential to becoming a project team player. To be sure, depending on the project approach (i.e., waterfall or Agile), the context will be different. But, good training results in an understanding that allows for application of basic PM concepts in any environment.

I often hear “traditional” project management characterized as “command and control,” which is typically contrasted with Agile projects in which teams work collaboratively. But when has that ever worked? In 20 years, I’ve never taught a “command and control” approach to project management.

As I think about my upcoming Project Management Fundamentals class, I think about how the techniques, concepts, and practices I share that have not changed over the years. A few of my top favorite timeless, project management fundamentals that will always be essential to good project practice in any environment include:




Partner with Stakeholders for the Win-Win

The relationship between stakeholders and projects is two-way; they affect each other. They are impacted by the project as the vehicle for change, as well as the output. They also impact the project because they have things we need like money, time, people, space, permission, buy-in, etc. So, if we are going to be asking them for something, it’s reasonable for them to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Identifying the win-win is the best way to get what’s needed, meet the needs of the project and ultimately deliver value to the organization.


Trust is Essential to Effective, Open Communication

Good communication is built on trust. Building trust is not always easy and, once built, it’s work to maintain it. But, without it, communication is an exercise in waste. Good PMs need to put in the effort to build trust with all stakeholders in order to ensure that their time spent communicating (which is a lot!) is time well spent.


Collaborate for the Best Outcomes

It’s often easiest to do the work of project management while sitting alone in an office cube or home office. Project outcomes aren’t going to address the real business problem; however, if the PM hasn’t gotten out from behind their real or virtual walls and worked with others to define objectives, identify and estimate work to be done, and recognize progress and opportunities for continuous improvement. Project management is a team sport.


These are some of the basic practices that a solid PM Fundamentals course will introduce or reinforce. They are – and always have been – the essence of what makes for good project practice. Good PM fundamentals like these have stood the test of time and aren’t going to be lost in the ebb and flow of project management trends.

Good project management fundamentals never go out of style!


What other fundamentals are essential? Comment below.


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