In 1984, Gert Wijnen, a management consultant at the Dutch consultancy firm Twynstra Gudde, wrote together with Peter Storm and Willem Renes 'Projectmatig werken' which dealt with management of unique assignments. The publication quickly became an accepted handbook for project management in the Netherlands.
Wijnen regarded projects as coherent sets of planned, non-routine based activities that aim to achieve a unique objective for a finite number of resources. Projects had to be handled differently from routine operations and improvisations such as negotiations. A project required a planning and control infrastructure separate from the standard organisational hierarchy.
The management of projects consisted of five core activities:
1. phasing a project;
2. controlling a project;
3. making decisions during the project;
5. boundary control.
1. PROJECT PHASES
A project is divided into six phases, each with its own activities:
2. PROJECT CONTROL
A project is controlled using five dimensions:
3. PROJECT DECISION MAKING
A go/no go decision on the next phase must be made between project phases by selecting one of many alternatives. The decision can only be amended, not overhauled. Available information becomes more detailed and precise as it moves through the sequential project phases. A high level of uncertainty requires wider margins in the planning phase. The outcome must be properly administrated since it provides the input for the next project phase.
Three actors play different, yet complementary roles in projects:
1. client patron:
a) wants the project result,
b) is able to organise the resources and conditions to make the project possible and
c) makes key decisions during the project.
2. project manager:
a) takes responsibility for realising the project result,
b) initiates and coordinates project activities and
c) manages and reports on progress.
3. project member: has specialised knowledge and skills to realise the project result.
Healthy interaction between the client patron and project manager is vital for the project's success. The client patron is responsible for making the organisation desire the project result. The project manager is responsible for the realisation of the result. A contract between the client patron and project manager must be signed for all six project phases. The project manager must judge the sufficiency of the resources to realise the next phase since a constituent might find the costs for the next phase too high or that external conditions changed.
5. BOUNDARY CONTROL
Everyone and everything that can or will influence the project or programme is part of the relevant environment. Each project should be managed to fit its environment (or context) within which it will exist or in which its deliverable has to be integrated. Important factors include the physical environment of a project deliverable, (i.e. where it will be applied, how it interfaces with other processes and how it will be delivered. The technology associated and financial resources can also be important factors. The client patron and the project manager bear the primary responsibility for influencing these environmental factors and continually monitoring them.
A project management methodology helps create a shared and structured language amongst participants and reduce uncertainty and miscommunication.
Organisations often overlook the role of the client patron. More projects fail because of badly functioning client patrons than to badly functioning project managers. Responsibility for this client role must be properly assigned before undertaking a project.
Establishing an organisation's administrative structure to manage single projects creates a foundation to manage across projects.
The success of a project is based much more on the capabilities of the project manager than on the applied methodology. A structured approach can provide a false sense of security.
Wijnen's project phases should not be interpreted as linear steps that prevent participants from returning to previous phases. Reality is frequently messier and requires feedback loops at each of the stages to handle uncertainty.
Organisations require time to learn and incorporate new methodologies. Other useful methodologies increase the chance that many are adopted within one and the same organisation.