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Project management, configuration management and systems engineering

As the 20th Century draws to a close we are seeing a growth explosion of activity and interest in Project Management (PM), Configuration Management (CM), and Systems Engineering (SE). These disciplines are a must for any successful project in the Defense and Aerospace industry. But what represents the most effective balance of these disciplines? Most importantly, can we as project managers survive in The Next Century without one or more of these disciplines and still meet our project’s goals?

 Upon some evaluation of each of the three disciplines, it becomes clear that each brings with it several elements which serve as tools for managing a successful project; that is, project management in the purest sense. Experts closely aligned with these specific disciplines often impart such enthusiasm over their respective subjects that the message received by non-experts is often one of: “Gee, it looks like if I can only get some good (fill in the next words with your choice of: PM, CM or SE) in place on my project, things will go very smoothly and our project will succeed.” The question we will answer in this paper is: “What is really needed from these three disciplines for the project manager in The Next Century?”

 This paper will examine the fundamental key tools of PM, CM, and SE on their own merit and “net out” those activities within each discipline which are shared by one or more of the other two disciplines. An attempt will be made to “place” each of the shared tools into a primary role in only one of the three disciplines. Those elements that are truly unique characteristics of a particular discipline are then identified. Finally, a brief discussion of the role and value of each element in effectively managing and executing a project will be presented. The paper will show that although it is somewhat useful to understand the relationship of PM, CM and SE as whole disciplines, the key to managing successful projects in The Next Century lies in understanding the relationship of the shared and unique core elements of each discipline and the most efficient and effective way to integrate these elements together to manage our projects.

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