What is Project Management- An Art or Science or Both?

Project management is an art or science, entirely depends on the type of organization you are working in. Some PMOs helps in pushing the framework, some micromanage people and some give you the opportunity to interpret the actual deliverables. In case your PMO is doing the governance part only the project management is used as more of art than Science in the ratio around 60:40.

Since project management does not bear absolute truth, it cannot be a science completely. It is a technique based on years of experiences that showed us the best practices and the most promising approach.

When you don’t have any experience or knowledge, you can only consider it as an art. Learning from all the others allows us to derive best practices to reach the objectives of the project at a minimal cost As using the project management technique gives no guarantee of the success of the projects, it seems to be an art. So it is a bit of both art and science.

Project Management is a Science

As per project management rules there are series of tools and techniques used for budgeting, scheduling, resource planning, estimating, and some of these are based upon sound mathematical principles and formulae. For calculating estimated time and budget, the project managers uses the concept of “Earned Value Management”, which contains mathematical calculations. Also to calculate the probability and impact of risk some formulae are applied. The Quality team also uses mathematical formulae to calculate standard deviation and range for expected activity duration. Different types of contract uses different mathematical formulae to calculate the total amount required to be paid to vendor in the end. Formulae are used even in the starting while selecting the project. Project managers calculate the value of ROI (Return On Investment), IRR (Internal Rate of Interest), NPV (Net present Value), Cost benefit ratio, etc.at the time of selection of project.

Project Management is an Art

The art side of project management is that it requires specific skills to be used depending on the situation. If a project required the project manager effort focused on communication and resource management in the major portion of working time, the ‘ART’ would get weightage. Risks, Issues, Assumptions, Dependencies, day to day scheduling, requirements analysis, design, escalation processes, implementation planning, resource fluctuations,  are very difficult to manage under any pre-defined algorithm or scientific method. They are driven by experience of the Project Manager and associated stakeholders.

Project management is not purely science as the purpose of science is to build a model of reality. From all the specific observations, build a generic model representing as precisely as precisely all these observations. Whereas project management is about building a specific representation based on a model of an ideal project. It translates from the generic to the specific.

Project management is a systematized body of knowledge and universal application , it is a mixture of knowledge and skills to lead the project to success,  so it is very difficult to conclude whether it is an art or a science and in case of both which has more weightage.

About Aditi Malhotra

Aditi Malhotra is the Content Marketing Manager at Whizlabs. Having a Master in Journalism and Mass Communication, she helps businesses stop playing around with Content Marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. A writer by day and a reader by night, she is a fine blend of both reality and fantasy. Apart from her professional commitments, she is also endearing to publish a book authored by her very soon.

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