Does One Size Really Fit All?


Advances in Project Management Series

By Adrian Taggart

United Kingdom


It is gratifying to note just how far project management has developed as a management discipline in its own right over recent years. I believe that much of this is driven by the clarity and focus demanded by the modern definitions of projects that have evolved. ‘A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product service or result’ is the expression conceived by the PMI in their Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge 5th ed.’, for instance, and the use of the words ‘temporary’ and ‘unique’ are very significant for two reasons. Firstly, they clearly differentiate the project environment from that of routine operations, such as mass manufacturing and most instances of service provision. Secondly, they lay the foundations of the tools and techniques that collectively define project management. For instance it is the uniqueness of a project endeavour that directly leads to the uncertainty therein, which in turn requires the characteristic cyclical planning and control activities intrinsic to approaches such as Demming’s Plan Do Check Cycle and the PMI’s Process Groups of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing.

However, helpful though this definition is, there are drawbacks. In particular to ensure applicability to all types of projects, it is necessarily, a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Whilst this is helpful in defining the ‘project brand’ and initiating key approaches, we soon reach the point when, to achieve a better ’fit’ , so to speak, it becomes necessary to define sub-categories of projects and address their particular needs.

Programme Management is an example of this. Programmes are unique and temporary and so conform to the above definition: they are projects. However, they are a special type of project with particular characteristics and it has been deemed helpful to sub-categorise these projects under the name of Programmes so as to enable the development of particular and bespoke tools and techniques (and standards and qualifications) that apply only to them.

I believe there is a compelling need to identify and treat another sub-category of projects in this way: those projects delivered by Supplier Organizations (SO).


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK. Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.

About the Author      

pmwj34-May2015-Taggart-PHOTOAdrian Taggart

United Kingdom


Adrian Taggart
is an experienced project management consultant. He has managed, and advised on, national and international projects within sectors that include defence, manufacturing, heavy engineering and utilities, requiring him to represent the interests of both clients and contractors.

Interest in the topic and its practitioners has led him to teaching project management at MSc degree level, and also tutoring numerous candidates for the professional qualifications of the APM and PMI®. 
This combination of experience, and a detailed knowledge of the Bodies of Knowledge, has given him a strong appreciation of the distinctive differences in how each type of company (Owner and Supplier Organizations) sees project management, the techniques and strategies that work for each, and the different understanding and skills required by practitioners within each.

Adrian is the author of Project Management for Supplier Organizations, published in April 2015 by Gower in the UK. For information about the book, click here.