Project Management as an Art
As with many other fields, project management too is perpetually in a state of debate – whether to assign it as an art or is it to be labelled as a science. To understand the basis for placing project management in either of the categories it is important to define accurately the term itself. Project management can be defined as the discipline which involves planning, organizing and managing of various resources so as to result in successful project completion. A project in turn is organized work done towards achieving a pre-defined objective involving resources and time. The success of a project is measured on the basis of the results meeting the pre-defined objectives within the budget and time schedule.
Amalgam of Science and Art
Given the above definitions of project management and project, it is sensible to categorize project management as an amalgam of science and art. It can be thought of as science because it involves a fair degree of tools, techniques, processes, etc. which are quintessential for science. Project management relies heavily on tools whether it is the Gantt chart, the PERT CPM, scheduling tools or cost monitoring tools etc. These tools and processes help in achieving the objectives and successfully completing the project.
Is Project Management a Science?
But we cannot categorically say that project management is a science, because it involves people and the organizational dynamics. Hence the argument that project management is an art. Though it is a tools based activity, it depends heavily on the right people and the right skills. It is dependent on an experienced and effective project leader or manager and carefully chosen project team. It is also dependent to a large extent on people dynamics, leadership skills, communication, etc. which can make or break the project. All the people involved in the project need to work as a unit, should be transparent in communications and be able to motivate one another to achieve the project goals and solve the project issues.
We cannot definitively say that project management is a pure science or pure art. At the very best it is a carefully integrated body which incorporates the facets of both – science and art. To manage a project successfully one needs to address it as both science and art and choose the right tools, processes, techniques, and methods and at the same time pay attention to choosing the right people, work on the culture, communications, and leadership.