Is good, sound project management really just common sense?  On one hand, most of the things we do, or should do, in our life - if they are done right - are more about common sense than some sort of learned practice.  It makes sense to be organized, write things down, manage our money well so we don’t pay bank fees, manage our bills well so we don’t pay unnecessary late fees, eat right so that we remain healthy and go to the doctor and dentist regularly so that issues can be detected early and taken care of.  It makes sense to always wear a seat belt and to not drive a car after drinking alcohol and to not take illegal drugs, but people still do all of these things and with sometimes deadly consequences.

All of this, one might say, is common sense. However, many of these things – and other, similar important things get neglected in our lives due to time constraints and budget issues or just plain stupidity.

What About PM?

So, what about project management practices? Let’s look at the ordinary daily activities and responsibilities of your average Project Manager…

- Ad-hoc communication and follow-up with team members

- Updates with the customer on any necessary activities

- Budget and resource forecasting

- Preparation and delivery of status reports and issues/risks lists

- Revision and delivery of the project schedule

- Status meetings with the team and customer

Status meetings with the team and customer

Let’s naturally assume that the Project Manager wants to be organized and present themselves well to their team and the customer.  Given that assumption, then when we look at the above list, there really isn’t anything on there that would be contrary to that organized outcome, is there?  No.  Then it appears that performing all of these tasks to at least some degree would be common sense and just plain good practice.  Without training and mentoring they may not all be done well at first or in the right order or always delivered to the appropriate person, but they all make sense to be done and over time a good, willing and organized person aspiring to be a Project Manager would likely develop the understanding, knowledge and process to perform most of these tasks well and in an orderly fashion.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying anyone can be a Project Manager.  I’m certainly not saying that Project Managers don’t need training and mentoring.  I’m not saying that PMP certification is not necessary – it has its place.  And all of these things will get a Project Manager off the ground much faster and can actually help a Project Manager be organized and successful on their very first assignment.  Left to chance, that’s not likely.


But that’s not really the discussion of this article.  What I’m trying to get down to in this article is that are the normal functions of good project management really just common sense?  I believe that they are.  Training helps…you’ll be successful much faster.  But if you’re an organized person and have the desire to be a good PM, then I believe that common sense will eventually get you down the path of performing the necessary tasks to be a successful Project Manager.  You may fail on a few projects getting there, but if you have it in you, you will eventually get there.