A simple answer to this question is - “not always”. A correct answer to this question will however be, “always, IF it is a project”. So, the more important question is - this work that you are doing, is this really a Project??
We do know that not all work is Project work – some work is Operational. We also know that Projects are high performance change engines – they are not high efficiency change engines. And as high performance engines always have a factor of waste associated to them, there will always be a factor of waste associated to Projects. So, if the work is not Project type (where you cannot gain or maintain very high performance) do you really want to treat it as a Project? Or if what you are seeking is high efficiency (instead of high performance) – do you really want to treat it as a Project?
To me the answer is no.
So, if the work you are doing is project work, you need Project Management to help you get what you want to achieve.
Wait a second though, this question could have another meaning. The question we answered is – “Under what scenarios do we need Project Management practices?”. However, the question posed at the top of the post could also mean – “At what time in a Project do you need Project Management?”
Well, when do you need a mother for a child? Well, how about, even before the child is born. In a similar note, Project Management is needed way ahead of when a Project is born. You may not get a dedicated Project Manager at that time, but Project Management, for sure.
Alright, that’s it for today… cheers!