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Failure is Not an Option – Military Project Management

by Sandra Hebert, PMP, VP of Membership and Retired Chief Master Sergeant

(reprinted with permission)

The terms military mission and project management are synonymous but are rarely perceived that way.  In the military, we are assigned tasks with clearly defined outcomes, timelines, and constraints.  

As defined by the Project Management Institute, a project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end, and therefore, defined scope and resources. Projects are unique operations designed to accomplish its singular goal, as opposed to ongoing, routine procedures.

Your mission is temporary and has the singular goal of setting up the forward communications site and making it operational.  It will end when it is turned over to the Commander of the Company who will be stationed at the forward location. 

This sample scenario repeats itself in almost every aspect of the military. 

Tasks are assigned with relatively little direction or knowledge of the obstacles. To accomplish the mission, we must clearly define the needed knowledge, scope, cost, and other required resources. We estimate the time to complete the mission, unless, of course, that information is given to us as a constraint.  We meet with the Commander and other stakeholders to discuss the resources and determine if it can be done in-house or, based on constraints, will have to be produced externally.  We identify the risks and what it will take to complete this task or project with the best quality available, sometimes needing to meet industry standards or organizational regulations. Fortified with this information, we ask what constitutes success in the eyes of the Commander?

These activities are common to the planning and executing of military projects but are rarely identified as Project Management.

You may have stories like this one. If you are in transition, Project Management may be a logical career move that allows you to apply the skills you have already developed.  If you are active and have a project, you may need some assistance for a successful outcome.   The PMI New Hampshire Chapter Military Program can help.

Contact us at https://pmi-nh.org/community/military-outreach to make a connection. We can assist you with current projects, and with translating your MOS/AFSC (military job) experience into civilian Project Management language.