What Drives Project Management?

Project management drives many things in a successful organization: change, progress, success, future goals, and more. Successful project management drives organizations forward – but what drives project management?

This is no small question. The difference between middling efforts and successful ones is clarity of purpose. Identifying drivers of successful project management opens up opportunities for organizational advancement – and future growth. The greatest of ideas still require proper project management to actually happen. Let’s take a look at what drives project management.

drivers of project management

Project Management Is Driven By Values

One driver of project management are organizational values. The kernel of an organization’s vision is its values, and this in turn drives all endeavors forward.

Organizational values can help drive project management – or hinder it. For example, an organization valuing a “move fast and break things” approach does not enter the planning phase carefully. Instead of careful scheduling and risk assessment, project managers are pressured into reckless operations and tight deadlines. The incentives provided by such an organizational value are for bad behavior – it rewards gambles, half-planned work, and ultimately creates a definition of success that is predicated on luck. A meticulous project manager may find themselves being passed by, and punished for moving too slowly.

Contrast that with an organization which values transparency and data informed processes. Risk taking is frowned upon, and success is carefully defined. Someone gambling on half planned work will quickly be shown the door.

Not only is project management driven by values, it is ultimately defined by the organization’s values.

Project Management Is Driven By Project Teams

Project teams aren’t just vehicles for output. They’re an input, too. Team members exert a huge influence over projects, and ultimately are a driver of how projects are managed. Project teams bring their unique sets of skills and dynamics to the work at hand. They also affect outcomes.

Imagine two projects: two different hospitals in the city want to build a new maternity ward. They both contract the same firm – and each ward is given its own project team. One team is led by a woman who has recently given birth, and has a whimsical and light-hearted design lead. The other team is led by a project manager whose last project was designing a prison, and this team’s design lead is a lover of Brutalist architecture. It is not difficult to conclude that these two maternity wards will come out looking very different!

We are used to hiring and assigning team members based on work experience and skills – but personalities make a huge difference, both to team cohesion and to the final product the team is working on.

Project Management Is Driven By Software

“Oh, come on.”

“Software isn’t a driver. It’s a tool. At best.”

You’re right. And you’re also wrong.

The tools we use shape the way we think of things. Are you familiar with the idiom, “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” Well, to the task management software, everything looks like a new task to create. To the Kanban board, everything looks like a status to update. To the Gantt chart, everything looks like a critical path dependency. To a spreadsheet, everything looks like a calculation. And so on.

Tools shape the way we think, and the way we respond to crises and problems, too. Without realizing it, your choice of a time-saving software tool can have big ramifications down the line. Using a Kanban board, or a task management app without a timeline? You’ll miss that one little delay that snowballs to put the entire project at risk.

Project Management Is Driven By You

Ultimately, the main driver of project management are project managers. The passion and drive for positive change that project managers bring to work every day is what drives the industry forward. Project managers are the unsung heroes who make things happen.