Project management skills are essential in today’s business environment. In the case of electronic human resource management (e-HRM) projects, these skills are vital because expendable resources are limited, numerous stakeholders are impacted, and inadequate deliverables result in client dissatisfaction and reflect poor management. Project management methodologies are evidence of proactive controls and credible processes that lay the foundation for success. This chapter presents an overview of project management and introduces concepts for gaining control of any undertaking, especially e-HRM projects, based on the generally accepted principles of project management.
Projects are an effort undertaken to address specific opportunities, challenges, or problems that cannot be accomplished through normal operational channels or activities; for some reason, a special effort is required (PMI®, 2004). The use of project management techniques in business did not become popular until the early 1960s when business leaders needed new strategies and tools to address the competitive, technical, and social challenges presented on national and international scales (Webber & Torti, 2004). In the 1960s, business competition on a global scale began to appear. Technological improvements and innovations made their way into businesses, factories, and homes on practical and economic terms. The demand for previously unattainable products exploded. People became mobile and independent in terms of participating or not participating in employment, political, and social activities. All of these factors impacted the way businesses had to operate to remain profitable. Project management became critical to any business that wanted to profitably deliver quality products and services on time, as scoped, and within budget.
Many people and institutions attempt to make project management into a science or engineering practice, especially when projects are highly technical, expensive, or require years of effort, as with building a bridge tunnel. These complex projects demand stringent structure and unique skills due to their increased level of risk (Garton & McCulloch, 2005; Johnson, 2006; Mandanis & Wyatt, 2000; Meade, 2003). But even under such monitored conditions, projects are not always as objectively structured as management believes. This is why a great many projects fail; project management is an art (Johnson, 2006).
Numerous resources are available to help both the novice develop (Baker, Campbell, & Baker, 2003; Martin & Tate, 2001; Portny, 2000; Verzuh, 2005) and the expert reinforce (Morris & Pinto, 2004; PMI®, 2000, 2004, 2006) their understanding of project management principles. Professional project management guidelines, structures, and documents can be intimidating and are often perceived as unnecessarily rigorous. Some of the most well known professional project management guidelines are found in The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), published by the Project Management Institute, Incorporated (PMI®). The third edition (2004) sets forth the current official standards for Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification and its management practices. Understanding the PMBOK® Guide and achieving PMP® status represent the “experienced-end” of the project management spectrum; it is not for beginners. However, this is often where people begin looking for project management information, and they soon become overwhelmed. The goal of project management is to provide structure, organization, and control to achieve a successful conclusion. If the processes that you are following, the activities that you are doing, and the forms that you are completing do not support this effort, then do not follow, do, or use them.