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The essence of Digital Project Management

August 27th, 2009

Nobody has ever said it better than the guys at Manager Tools. The art of project management in a digital world boils down to a simple question:

Who’s going to do what by when?

300px-MagrittePipeIt doesn’t get any simpler than this. And this is what project management on a digital project is all about. It’s simply defining the task list of what has to get done in chronological order, getting a name beside each task, and setting a realistic deadline to each item.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to a typical PMO in a large organization. The PMO “process” has many other steps, reports, meetings, documents, etc., that have to be filled out in triplicate to push a project along. But those steps (in my experience) are not there to help a project get completed. They are there to protect management from being called to task for a project that failed. Piles of paper can be pointed to that prove that, even though the project failed, the process succeeded!

If you actually listen to the podcast, they make mention of the picture of a pipe. It’s a metaphor that speaks loudly to the mistake many project managers make. Many PMs point to the BRD, TechSpecs, MSProject Plan, QA Plan, Go / No Go criteria and call it the project. As Mark Horstman so beautifully states, those are *not* the project! Those are representations of the project. The project is what the hands on the keyboards are working on, not the reports.

The picture of the pipe says it all. If you’re not literate in French, the text essentially reads, “This is not a pipe.” Meaning, of course, that it is *not* a pipe, it is a representation of a pipe!

Your project plan is a representation of your project. It is *not* your project. Your plan shows “Who’s going to do what by when.” The Who, What and When are your project.

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