What is Project Management?

I happened to be reading through a thread on a message board (which shall remain nameless for very good reasons) and came across two really interesting opinions about project management:

Opinion One:

Project management is easy to do badly. Most project managers are a crushingly depressing exercise in futility. Occasionally you find a really good one, but they're like gold dust.

A bad project manger thinks every situation can be handled via a combination of MS Project, MS Excel and, if you're really lucky, MS PowerPoint. They exist to draw up schedules, create gannt charts and pass messages between those asking the questions and those who actually know the answers. Generally speaking, they know next to nothing about the specifics of the project they're managing, and they're only there because they received a glowing recommendation from their previous employer, who would've said absolutely anything to ensure they secured a job somewhere else.

A good project manager has a complete grasp of the fundamentals of each area covered by the project they're managing. They already know what's involved, each step of the way, usually as a result of previously being employed to perform many of those steps. They draw up schedules, but only sparingly bring them out - given that they already know how many boxes on a spreadsheet it's likely to take to complete each task. They serve a very valuable purpose by being able to shield those working on the project from constant harassment, by virtue of them already knowing many of the answers to stupid questions. They provide a crucial focal point, being the definite point of contact for all issues related to the project, both for outside parties and those directly involved.

There are very, very few good project mangers.

Opinion Two:

On executing the project and the, err, "importance" of plans...

...Executing the project is something else completely. For what it's worth, most projects I've been involved in have a lovely project plan that goes into a drawer and is never referenced again once funding's been approved.

What seems more effective is to keep a close eye on milestones and key deliverables, and make sure everything is on-track and that everyone both knows what's needed and has what they need to get it done...