From Space Shuttle Project to Wedding Planning


During my recent interview on Blog Talk Radio . I was asked what my favorite industry is. My answer was: project management is about applying project management processes to go from project initiation to project closing. This approach is the same for any project. So I do not have a favorite industry. For me project management is project management. Note that PMI’s PMBOK® does talk about specific industries, but about project management processes. For me doing a Space Shuttle project or planning a wedding is the same. Let me show you how I would approach both projects if I was asked to manage them.

Space Shuttle Project

Managing a Space Shuttle project sounds extreme, but we have the technology and there are project managers that have managed Space Shuttle projects. So I would start by contacting such a project manager and including him or her on my team. Next we would plan, execute and close the project. Sounds simple, but those are the main steps that have to be taken.

Wedding Project

My approach to managing a wedding project would be the same: I have a friend who plans weddings for tourists that want to get married on Aruba. I would get her on my team to plan the wedding for me. Once we reach to an agreement, we plan, execute and close out the wedding project.


The approach is the same for projects in different industries. Managing projects is about the process, not the industry (content).

You may be thinking: doesn’t the Space Shuttle project have more risks than a wedding? Well, messing up a bride’s wedding can be risky also.

I have the confidence that i can handle both projects. I hope that my recent eBook Project Management Quick Start will help you start building that confidence also.



8 thoughts on “From Space Shuttle Project to Wedding Planning”

  1. Victor ,
    I total agree with you that Project Management is same for all Industries and Sectors.

    1. Hi Shakir,
      Sorry for taking so long to answer your comment. I was in Colombia, South America, where I had limited access to the internet. I am back now.

      Thank you for your comment. It is important that we as project managers understand that the process for managaging a project is the same for all industries.

  2. The project manager is responsible for orchestrating all the activities such a way that the scope of the project is completed within schedule and budget. The processes are used as a guideline to improve efficiency of project activities but one cannot completely relay and strictly follow the processes all the times. Sometimes certain processes are must for specific type of project but same processes may not suitable to other type of projects. Managing a project means managing stakeholders, different mindsets, road blocks, momentum. We don’t need to manage the process. Their existence tells to follow the path.

    @Dick, As a project preparation manager, I would make sure architect and engineer design match and the both teams have coordination. Project manager’s responsibility is more than this and at higher level as he /she is accountable as well as responsible for entire project whereas project preparation manager’s responsibility and accountability is specific and limited in nature.


    1. Vijaya,
      Thank you for your comment. The PMBOK is an extensive description of all the project management processes. In real life it is indeed so that you never use all the processes on any project. However you do have to manage the processes needed for your specific project.
      I illustrated this recently in a case study where we counted the number of processes used as we worked our way through the case study. You can have a look at the case study here.

    2. Hi Victor,

      My apology if I confused you with my writing. Sometimes the speed of my thoughts and fingers don’t synch as it is supposed to be. 🙁

      Let me explain. As per PMBOK there are 5 process groups as mentioned in your article. There are 13 knowledge areas comprises of activities distributed within 5 process group. Project manager manages the activities mentioned in the knowledge area not the process. Depending on organizational requirement and size of the project, sometimes project manager could be responsible for the activities fall under one process group or two or all five process groups. The process has one directional flow. However, the activities under knowledge area in each process group can be overlapped or sequential. As a project manager, we have to manage these activities under knowledge area.

      Hope I have cleared the confusion I created earlier. I am sorry for not being clear in earlier posting.


    3. Hi Vijaya,

      Here I am again. You did not confuse me at all with your writing, and even if you did, so what. I encourage these kind of discussions, because they discuss different point of views and they are very educational. So thank you for this lively discussion.

      Vijaya, I think we are saying the same thing: what you call activities I am calling processes. Table 3-1 in the PMI’s PMBOK 5th ed “Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping” is a table listing all the forty seven processes. Check out the first sentence in the corresponding paragraphs, for example par. 13.3 Manage Stakeholder Engagement: “Manage Stakeholder Engagement is the process of…..”

      Also note that what you mentioned in your comment of May 3rd “Managing a project means managing stakeholders, different mindsets, road blocks, momentum
      are all processes according to the same table 3-1 as described above. Let me clarify: “managing stakeholders” = the manage stakeholder engagement process (13.3), “manage different mindsets” = the manage project team process (9.4). “manage road block” = the manage stakeholder (probable external) process (13.3), “manage momentum” = the control schedule process (6.7).

      So we are saying the same, just that I am using the PMBOK terminology.

      Thank you again for this educational discussion.

      Also thanks to the PMBOK for serving as a common reference.
      Without it we would have endless dicussions all the time.

  3. Hi Victor,
    When you manage the process of project management, doesn’t that make you a process manger rather than a project manager? Doesn’t that imply, all care, no responsibility? Leaving the responsibility with the appointed project manager?

    Recently I was involved in a large restauration and renovation project in The Hague as a project preparation manger for a construction company. It occurred to me that engineers drawings didn’t always match with architects drawings and I approached the pm of the client about it. I made it clear to him, that it was his responsibility that engineers and architects consult and check each others drawings. To my surprise he informed me, that that was my responsibility, as contractors we had the duty of coordination and he was merely the process manger.

    Until the end of the project I have believed he was wrong, as consultants like architects and engineers were selected, contracted and paid by him. I merely control the sub contractors and suppliers.

    What’s your view on that?

    1. Hi Dick,
      Project management processes are the fundamental building blocks of project management. So managing a project is essentially managing processes.
      As you mentioned, the project manager is ultimately responsible for the succesful outcome of the project.

      My contractor’s contracts always have an article stating that the contractor is required to verify the drawings and to report any discrepancies/problems they notice.
      However that does not free me from being ultimately responsible for the outcome of the project as project manager.

      So it is a shared responsibilty with the project manager having the over-all responsibility of the project.

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