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The value of 'free'

As project managers we are constantly aware of the relationship between costs and the value benefits. Whether it be putting together the business case or assessing a change request it’s always about return on investment.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that when the Praxis Framework was launched as a free web site (and now published by the APM in book form) project managers asked “what’s the catch?” The simple response was “there isn’t one”; but that was usually received with more than a little scepticism.

Ten months down the line and people are beginning to believe that something can be free and have value. It’s not always the case that “if it doesn’t cost anything, it can’t be worth anything”.

As project managers we are perhaps a bit jaded when it comes to our perceptions of cost and value. When we are not thinking in project management terms, we are happy to use Wikipedia, Drop Box and Skype to name but three, without any thought that we should really be paying for these services in order to get value from them.

Why can the same not be true of something related to our own profession? Most of project management is about straightforward common sense. For too long this basic common sense has been assembled into Bodies of Knowledge and Methodologies only to have a great big © symbol slapped on the front.

If you want to use diagrams or passages of text from these documents, you have to pay a fee ‘because they have value’. This is like charging project managers for the air they breathe and is untenable if we want the profession to expand and develop.

Those new to our profession need access to the basics openly and freely. Notice that being ‘free’ is not the only, or even the most important, part of that sentence. The value of something that is free is diminished if is not readily accessible or if it is not open to evolutionary changes driven by the more experienced members of our profession.

The time has come to look at how we perceive the basic principles of the discipline of project management. They are mostly common sense and they have enormous value – but that doesn’t mean they can’t be free.

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  1. Edward Wallington
    Edward Wallington 26 March 2015, 10:47 AM

    Hi Adrian,Thanks or raising the concept of ‘free’.  I agree with you that just because something is free of charge that is it not important or worthy of consideration.  To me, it is all about the ‘value’ as opposed to the cost.  Something could be free, £10, £1000, etc… the cost is to be considered, but what is more important are the benefits it will bring – the ‘value’ to you, your organisation etc, if there is value to you it is worth investing – free or charged.There are lots of ‘free’ resources out there that are valuable and worth considering for use in our daily PPM lives, and also as CPD material.Regards,Ed