Thanks to Donald Trump’s Apprentice series, Americans are becoming more and more familiar with the hassles and frustrations that are a part of project management. But what exactly is meant by the term? What does project management involve?

In the world of work, a project is a process that is meant to be done only once— unlike a job, which is a regularly repeated, permanent work process. It has a definite beginning and end, and a time by which it must be completed. Projects are thus outside what is commonly called “business as usual.”

There are several approaches to the task of project management. One is the so- called “traditional” approach, in which the manager first initiates the project; then plans how it is to be carried out; carries out those plans; monitors his subordinates as they work on the project; and finally reaches the completion stage. Any of these stages other than the first and last may be gone through more than once.

Other approaches are the critical chain model, the extreme model, extreme chain, process- based management, agile management, and PRINCE2. Each emphasizes a different aspect of the project manager’s task: the critical chain model on the required resources— both human and non- human— needed to carry out the project, while the extreme model applies to projects that are very complex and involve a high degree of uncertainty. Agile management concentrates on determining what types of software and technology would best serve the company.

With all the complex planning that is required of project managers, it is no surprise that computer engineers are developing software to help them in their task. Such software can help to schedule tasks that will be involved in the project; and diagrams can be made to show the relationship of the various tasks to one another. Computer programs can also be used to make task lists; show which employees will be taking care of what parts of the project; reveal what risks and dangers will be involved; how to make the best use of the available resources to produce the best results; and how much time it will take to complete the project. Some project management software can be installed on the company computers themselves, while others may be accessed through the web. The latter is, in fact, easier to control, and anyone in the business can access it by using his computer.