Warning – This page is currently under construction

Welcome to Scott Martin’s musings on project management.

Over the past few years I have been increasingly focussed on figuring out how to minimize the total amount of effort on projects. Note that this is different from trying to minimize the amount of project work (the work that is not management related) or the minimum amount of project management. The first generally results in additional project management work, often more costly hour-for-hour than the effort it is replacing while the second can cause more project work being done to resolve issues that were not caught when they were easy to fix.

Looking at such apparently diverse threads as agile methodologies and Toyota’s quality systems, I started to think that the solution was to involve everyone in Project Management, something that could only be done if the underlying system was lightweight and extremely modular. This website is the initial codification of these thoughts. While I’m sure that there will be fits and starts, and the inevitable reorganizations as we realize that some of the pieces will fit better in another “bucket” the system as described has a few advantages over other project management methodologies

  • It is easy to teach the basics
  • Since it is a system, more advanced topics follow naturally
  • The structure is understandable, and everyone on the team can understand why things are being done
  • The basic components make aggregation of resource information (and thus program or corporate planning) straightforward
  • Due to the structure, inexperienced practitioners will generally know when they don’t have the background to solve a problem (and can get help)

If the focus is on making the system as lightweight and easy to teach as possible, clearly the solution is not in more tools, templates or systems, but focusing on the absolute minimum of systems that could be used to achieve this goal. It also requires a focus on ensuring that the system is applied to all of the projects in an organization, so that you don’t end up with a number of competing systems. The idea of simplification has recurred throughout the late 20th century, with Tim Ferris popularizing it as “minimum effective dose” and other pioneers such as Deming, Crosby and (my personal favorite) Antione de Saint Exupéry, who stated (roughly translated from the French) stated “perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” To put that in context, the 5th edition of the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBoK) is 619 pages: which pages of that volume are the most appropriate for small to medium sized projects?

This system is not intended to take the place of project management training: it is more on the lines of an apprenticeship program or trades school compared to a university degree. Experienced project managers will be needed to support the folks “in the trenches” but this system allows them to focus on more difficult projects and help out in trouble areas.

With that understanding, I encourage you to explore. Currently the major sections are:

  • The Core System
  • Planning
  • Risks
  • Troubleshooting and Assessment
  • Tools and Templates (provided mostly as examples)

This system is targeted toward a small to medium sized consulting practice, whether it is an environmental, engineering, IT or business consulting practice. These are the areas that I have spent most of my career. Because this approach has a different perspective than other systems, the usual “Scope, budget, schedule” components of project management are rolled into these sections. Experienced project managers will see the PMBoK and PRINCE2 components, but an understanding of those systems and their underlying structures are not needed to execute small to medium projects – although these are incredibly useful constructs for more complex projects.

This system, like any system, will allow failures to occur. Because this is intended for small and medium projects, in general these failures will generally be small. That said, a “small” failure can often result in the termination of a small to medium project, and one of the core components is defining success factors so that if these projects cannot be successful they are terminated as early as possible.

If you want to find out about Scott Martin, please click here for his LinkedIn page