Project Management Institute

The new game in town




The upturn in economic fortunes is sparking a radical transformation of both the practice and performance of project management in Asia Pacific.

The most obvious shift is the dramatically expanding workload. Many economies, including China and Australia, have committed billions to major infrastructure stimulus projects.

Just look at some of the recent megaproject announcements: ExxonMobil's US$15 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea; Chevron's 20-year, US$82 billion gas sales agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Co., underpinning the development of a new gas field; and mining magnate Clive Palmer's plan to sell US$60 billion worth of Queensland coal to China over the next two decades, supporting the construction of new mines and infrastructure.

Along with all the new projects, there's the enormous backlog of work that commercial enterprises put on hold during the economic downturn and now are finally looking to restart.

This rapidly expanding portfolio of megaprojects is creating a steadily escalating demand for experienced project managers just as many are approaching retirement. At the same time, there has been a major slowdown in the recruitment and training of new project managers because of the economic crisis.

How the portfolio, program and project management profession responds to these challenges will have a dramatic ripple effect on the rest of the world. Even a 2 percent improvement in the efficiency of the overall project-delivery process translates to trillions of dollars in value.

The Five-Edge Star

Successfully managing megaprojects in the next decade will require a much broader view than simply solving time, cost and engineering issues. It will also include, at a minimum, meeting defined social and environmental outcomes.

Take China's Shanghai World Expo 2010 megaproject, for example, with a construction budget of CNY18 billion.

“Shanghai expo is not only an exhibition of new designs and intelligent technologies,” says Jack Sun, chairman of Jianke Project Management Co., a Shanghai-based construction consulting company working on the project. “It is also a demonstration of social responsibility and a commitment to a harmonious society—China's new approach to sustainable lifestyle.”

The megaproject is a concrete example of how the profession has evolved, too.

“The successful design, construction and management of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 venue project have gone much further than the traditional golden triangulation of time, cost and quality to a ‘five-edge star' that also includes sustainability and safety from project stakeholders and life cycle perspectives,” says Patrick X.W. Zou, PhD, associate professor and director of construction management and property programs at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and adjunct chair professor of risk management at Hunan University, Changsha, China.

To fully achieve the aims of Dr. Zou's five-point star, project managers must expand their skill set to include conceptual, technical, human resources and political proficiencies.

We must ensure waste is minimized and social equality emphasized in even in the smallest project—and that means tens of thousands of project managers across Asia Pacific must be trained.

Overall, the signs are promising, with hundreds of new university courses offering accreditation and thousands of people taking their Project Management Professional (PMP)® exams each month. But we can't rest on our laurels. There is a massive amount of work still needed to meet the needs of a changed marketplace. PM

Lynda Bourne, DPM, PMP, is the managing director of Stakeholder Management pty Ltd. and director of training at Mosaic Project Services pty Ltd., both in Australia. Dr. Bourne graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology as the first professional doctor of project management and is the president of the PMI Melbourne Chapter.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.




Related Content