Management in the project-oriented society
Univ. Prof. Dkfm. Dr. Roland Gareis
Currently the PROJEKTMANAGEMENT GROUP of the University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna and the International Project Management Association (IPMA) are conducting research projects with the objectives, to develop a maturity model of the project-oriented society (POS), to assess the competencies of POSs, and to develop strategies for the further development of POSs. The research emphasis lies on the generation of hypotheses, and on the development of models regarding the POS.
In the research projects a systemic research approach is applied, based on the following three fundamental paradigms:
• The radical constructivism as the epistemological approach
• The social systems theory as the organizational approach
• The qualitative social research as the methodological approach.
In a “POS Conception Project” the model of the POS was constructed and elements for the description of a POS were defined. Based on these conceptual results the project “POS Benchmarking” is performed. The objectives of this project are to assess the competencies of different POSs, to analyze commonalties and differences between these POSs, and to define strategies for the further development of the competencies of the POSs. As a first group of POSs, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have been benchmarked. In 2002 a second group of POSs, namely Austria, India, Ireland, Norway, and Latvia, is benchmarked.
This empirical work supports the creation of a viable POS model. The research is carried out in a cyclic process and consists of several loops of information gathering, hypotheses generation, reflection, and interpretation. For the information gathering a multimethod approach, including questionnaire-based assessments, documentation analyses, observations, and group discussions, is applied. The POS model as well as the assessment and the benchmarking results are considered as social constructs. The quality of the assessment data depends on the assessment process applied in the single POSs. The interpretation of the data gathered and the further generation of hypotheses are done in several workshops by the researchers and representatives of the different POSs. Varying team structures promote the development of different perceptions, which are integrated in a consensus-oriented communication process.
In parallel to these two IPMA projects, other POS-related research projects are performed within program I Austria, the Austrian Project Management Initiative. The further development of the maturity of Austria as a POS is organized as a program, which started in October 2000 and has a duration of four years. Program I Austria is a research as well as a marketing program. One of the strategies of program I Austria is “PM for everybody!” This strategy is implemented by performing projects such as “PM in Schools,” “PM in Families,” “PM in Small Municipalities,” and so on. Another strategy is the “Further Development of Project-Oriented Companies.” This strategy is implemented by projects such as “PM Auditing,” “Benchmarking Project-Oriented Organizations,”“Establishment of PM Networks,” and so on. The strategy “Developing the POS Model” is further implemented with projects such as “Business Case: POS” and “PM as a Profession.” A Gantt chart of program I Austria is shown in Exhibit 1.
The research on the application of project management in schools, in municipalities, and in families is field work-based. The results of the field woks in these different organizations are documented in case studies. The objectives of this research are to check the relevance of projects and of project management, to define project types for the different organizations, to define appropriate project management approaches, and to develop strategies for the marketing of project management in these new application areas.
The objectives of the project “Business Case: POS Austria” are the development of a business case structure for analyzing investments in POSs and to apply this structure to Austria as a case study. Further the Tempus project “EPROM,” transferring project management competencies from the European Union (EU) countries Austria, Ireland, and Greece to Romania, is already completed. From this project first experiences regarding the transfer of project management competencies between POSs could be observed.
The results of these projects are communicated within the project management community by presentations in international conferences and by publications in project management journals.
The Project-Oriented Society: Basic Hypotheses
The POS research started with the development of the following basic hypotheses:
• Thesis 1: Societies are becoming more project-oriented. Projects and programs are applied as temporary organizations in the industry. Therefore, projects and programs, and project and program management are not just a micro-economic concern but also a macro-economic concern.
• Thesis 2: A POS can be perceived as a social system. According to Luhmann's categorization of social systems in interactions, organizations, and societies, the society is the most complex social system. POSs can be defined by national and by regional boundaries.
• Thesis 3: POSs are characterized by specific practices of project-oriented companies, such as project management, program management, and project portfolio management practices, as well as personnel management and organizational design practices, and by specific project management related services, provided by education, research, marketing, and standardization institutions.
• Thesis 4: Different POSs have different maturities of practicing project and program management, project portfolio management, etc., and providing project management related services. The maturities of POSs can be assessed and benchmarked.
• Thesis 5: The more competencies a POS has, the more competitive it is internationally. There is no ideal maturity of a POS. The competencies required by a POS depend on its context, especially on the importance projects and programs have in the society, and on the management culture of the society.
• Thesis 6: The competencies of a POS can be further developed. This can be done by national project management initiatives.
• Thesis 7: POSs with high competencies have a high potential for efficient co-operations in projects and programs. POSs with high competencies can transfer their knowledge to societies with little competencies.
Based on the experiences gained with the application of the POS model in the project “POS Benchmarking” and with the implementation of the strategy “Project Management for Everybody!” within program I Austria, the basic hypotheses and the POS model were further developed. The possibility, to apply projects and programs, and project and program management not only in project-oriented companies, but also in any project-oriented organization, seemed relevant. Schools, families, small municipalities, churches, associations, and so on are considered as potential new areas of application for project management. Further the demand, to explicitly support the “project management crossover” from business life to private life, was identified. Some of the questions of the POS questionnaire were rephrased and the questions relating to project management-related standardization services were integrated in the project management-related marketing services.
Accordingly, the hypotheses 1, 3, and 6, defined at the beginning of the POS research, have been adapted as follows:
• Thesis 1: Societies are becoming more project-oriented. Projects and programs are applied as temporary organization in the industry, but also in new areas such as schools, associations, small municipalities, and even families. Therefore, projects and programs, and project and program management are not just a micro-economic concern but also a macro-economic concern.
• Thesis 3: POSs are characterized by specific practices of project-oriented organizations, such as project management, program management, and project portfolio management practices, as well as personnel management and organizational design practices, and by specific project management related services, provided by education, research, and marketing institutions.
• Thesis 6: The competencies of a POS can be further developed. This can be done by national project management initiatives. The costs and the benefits of the further development as a project-oriented society can be described in a business-case analysis. The “crossover” of project management competencies from business to private life provides mutual benefits.
The Model of the Project-Oriented Society
Boundaries and Context of the Project-Oriented Society
The perception of a society as a POS is a construction; it requires the observation of a society with a specific “pair of glasses,” the glasses of project-orientation.
The boundaries of societies can be constructed according to different criteria. By applying a functional differentiation subsystem, like economy, science, education, politics, law, art, religion, etc., can be defined. As secondary differentiation criterion for the construction of societies Luhmann suggests territories and the extent of the economic development. So far in the POS research projects the boundaries of the POS are defined to include all communications of a nation (as a territory), which relate to projects, programs, and project portfolios and those communications of functional subsystems, providing services related to project, program, and project portfolio management.
The context of a POS is defined by the importance of projects and programs in this nation, by its overall management culture, by all the other communications of the national subsystems, and by other POSs.
Elements of the Project-Oriented Society
The POS model considers as elements on the one hand the practices of project-oriented organizations (POOs), such as practices in project management, program management, project portfolio management, as well as practices in personnel management and organizational design, and on the other hand the project management related services of education, research, and marketing institutions. As POOs project-oriented companies as well as other organizations, such as schools, associations, families, and so on are considered.
The POS model can be visualized by a spider web as shown in Exhibit 2. The axes of the spider web represent the practices and services of the POS.
The elements of the POS referring to the practices of project-oriented organizations are shortly described below:
• Project management: A project is a temporary organization for performing a unique, short-term, or midterm process of medium or large scope. Project management is a (business) process of the project-oriented organization. The project management process starts with the project assignment and ends with the project approval by the project owner. It consists of the sub-processes project start, project coordination, project controlling, project closedown, and possibly the resolution of a project discontinuity. See Exhibit 3.
• Program management: A program is a temporary organization for performing a unique, midterm, or long-term process of large scope. In a program a set of projects and tasks are closely coupled by common objectives. Programs are limited as to time and budget. Program management is a business process of the project-oriented organization. The program management process consists of the subprocesses program start, program coordination, program controlling, program close-down, and possibly the resolution of a program discontinuity. The relationship between the organization of the single projects of a program and the program organization can be visualized in a program organization chart. See Exhibit 4.
• Project portfolio management: A project portfolio is a set of projects (and programs), which are performed by a project-oriented organization at a certain point in time. A project portfolio is more than the sum of its projects, as it also considers the relationships between the projects. A project portfolio database is the basis for project portfolio management. Project portfolio reports can be used to decide if new projects should be started and to establish priorities among projects. The objective of project portfolio management is to optimize the results of the project portfolio. An instrument for the management of a project portfolio is the project portfolio scorecard. See Exhibit 5.
• Personnel management in project-oriented organizations: Personnel management processes in project-oriented organizations are recruiting, leading, developing, and releasing project personnel. In project-oriented organizations a project management career path and project management certification might exist. It includes the roles junior project manager, project manager, senior project manager, and project management executive. See Exhibit 6.
• Organizational design of project-oriented organizations: In order to integrate the different projects and programs performed simultaneously, a project-oriented organization has specific integrative organizational structures, such as project management offices, project portfolio groups, and expert pools. Further specific integrative tools such as project and program management procedures and standard project plans exist. In the organization chart of a project-oriented company the specific permanent organizations as well as temporary organizations can be visualized. See Exhibit 7.
The elements of the POS referring to project management related services of institutions are shortly described below:
• Project management education services: Formal project management education programs are provided by different institutions, such as colleges, universities, and consulting organizations, and might lead to academic degrees in project management. The project management approach taught and the number of courses offered vary in different programs.
• Project management research services: Project management related research projects and programs, project management related publications and research events are services provided by research institutions. There might be specific national funds dedicated to project management research.
• Project management marketing services: As primary project management marketing institution in a POS the national project management association can be understood. Services like membership, certifications of project managers, performance of project management events, provision of project management standards, and so on are services provided by these associations. Further standardization services, such as provision of project management norms and formal project management requirements for public tenders, can be provided by standardization institutions.
The elements of the POS model are further described and specified in the POS questionnaire, which can be applied for assessing and benchmarking POSs. In Exhibit 8 and Exhibit 9 examples of questions of the POS questionnaire are shown.
In the further development of the POS questionnaire a few questions, relating to the practices of schools, families, small municipalities, and so forth in project and program management, project portfolio management, and so on, and to services of institutions supporting the crossover from business life to private life, have been added. See Exhibit 10.
Assessing and Benchmarking a First Group of Project-Oriented Societies
A POS requires competencies, i.e., knowledge and experience, to practice project and program management, and project portfolio management, and to provide project management related services. The sum of these competencies reflects the maturity of a POS.
Assessments of these competencies and a benchmarking of the maturities for a first group of POSs, namely Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Sweden, and United Kingdom, took place in 2001, based on the original POS questionnaire, not yet considering the application of project management in new areas. In a benchmarking of a second group of nations, including Austria, India, Ireland, Norway, and Latvia, these additional questions will already be considered.
The data resulting from the assessments of the practices of project-oriented companies are average data relating to all project types performed by all industries in a nation. The maturity of single POSs can be shown in a spider web model and as a POS ratio. As project management is considered as the most important competence of a POS, it is given a weight of 30 percent. All other elements of the model have a weight of 10 percent. The weight of each question within each element is proportional to the number of questions per element.
As an example of the assessment results achieved in the first group of POSs the spider web presentation for Austria is shown in Exhibit 11. The dark area in the POS spider web represents the assessed maturity of Austria as a POS in 2001.
The assessment results show, that the competencies of Austrian project-oriented companies are most developed in project management and in personnel management, even these competencies have a score of 43 and 50 only. Program management, project portfolio management, and the organizational design are less developed yet. This shows the traditional focus on the development of individual competencies for the management of single projects.
Within the project management related services provided by institutions, the marketing efforts by PROJEKT MANAGEMENT AUSTRIA result in the score of 50. The other service elements are not too well developed yet. This analysis portrays the development potentials, which Austria has. The dark line in the spider web shows the competencies of Austria as a POS in 2010, as planned by the team of the Austrian assessors and researchers.
The POS ratio is a metrics, to measure the maturity of a POS. It is calculated as a weighted sum of the competence ratios for the practices of project-oriented companies and for project management related services, provided by institutions. The POS ratio for Austria is 407, out of a possible maximum of 1000. This again shows the development potentials of Austria as a POS.
Exhibit 12 shows the competence ratios for each practice and service, the project management service ratios and the POS practice ratios, and the overall POS ratios for the assessed POSs. The comparisons of these ratios allow a benchmarking between the nations.
Overall one can see that the United Kingdom (UK) has the highest POS maturity, while Romania has the lowest one. There are two pairs of POSs with similar competencies, UK and Sweden on the one hand, and Austria and Denmark on the other hand. While the service ratios and the practice ratios from Austria and Denmark are similar, these ratios show big differences for the UK and Sweden. UK, with a higher service ratio, has a much lower practice ratio than Sweden. This might mean, that the provision of a high amount of project management related services by, e.g., education and research institutions, does not guarantee high quality practices in project-oriented companies immediately. From the Eastern European countries Hungary has a higher POS maturity than Romania.
The ratios of the POSs have to be interpreted within their contexts, i.e., the ratios have to be related to the importance of projects and programs and to the overall management culture in the different nations.
All assessed nations are still in an early development phase as a POS. There are high development potentials and demands, given the dynamics of the overall economic development in these nations. The performed assessments and the benchmarking give a view at the beginning of 2001. It can be assumed, that due to the project management-related development activities in some of these countries, the maturities as POSs will be much higher in a few years.
The Vision: Project Management for Everybody!
The Context of “Project Management for Everybody”
Management methods, such as financial planning and scheduling, and ICT-tools, such as the Internet, telephone conferencing, video conferencing, Microsoft® Office applications, etc., are not applied only in the business life anymore but also in private life. Obviously a “crossover” of methods, tools, and procedures takes place between business and private life. This crossover is promoted by new employment forms, such as part-time working, teleworking, and free-lancing.
Project management can be considered as a central integration instrument in business life. In projects and in programs different disciplines, different companies, and even different industries cooperate and learn from each other. This integration function might be extended. Project management can be considered as another dimension in the crossover between business and private life.
Objectives of “Project Management for Everybody”
The “project way of thinking and working”applies to many situations in life. More projects and even programs are performed in new areas of application, such as (small) municipalities, (small) associations, churches, schools, and even families. “Management by Projects” might become a strategy of these organizations, to cope with complexity and dynamics and to ensure the quality of the results, to be achieved. The quality of social life can be improved by professional, but appropriate project and program management.
The appropriateness of project and program management has to be defined in relationship to the context, in which it is applied. In family and in school projects less project management methods in less detail might be applied than in small municipalities or even in companies in the industry.
In order to manage projects and programs in families, schools, small municipalities, and so on professionally, more individuals and organizations in the society have to be familiar with project management. Individual and organizational competencies in project and program management are required not only in the industry but also in these new areas of application.
Introducing project and program management in schools and even in families should not only improve the quality of school projects and family projects but should also contribute to the professionalization of project management in the industry. Managers of the future become familiar with projects as temporary organizations and with the project management process and methods already as kids and as family members.
Implementation Strategies for “Project Management for Everybody”
A “project management crossover” between business life and private life can be organized explicitly. Project management competencies can be developed in families, schools, small municipalities, and so on. Universities, project management associations, consulting and training companies, project management professionals, and project management students have to take on responsibilities for the know how transfer from industry to individuals and organizations, representing these new areas of project management application.
For different target groups different strategies for the development of project management competencies are required. Possible strategies are shown as examples in Exhibit 13.
The development of individual competencies has to be combined with the development of organizational project management competencies. Project management procedures and standard project plans for repetitive projects have to be developed. Possibly also competencies for the management of project portfolios have to be developed.
The roles of project management related institutions, such as universities and project management associations, in these development processes are to market the strategy “PM for Everybody!” to provide project management standards, to organize trainings for new target groups, and to support networking between project managers of the new application areas.
The Practices: Project Management for Everybody!
Empirical experiences with project management in schools, families, and small municipalities were gained in research and marketing projects performed within program I Austria. Some results achieved in the project “PM in Schools” are presented as examples below.
Context of “PM in Schools”
Project management is in Austria in trade schools (“Handelsakademien”) and in technical schools for the age groups from fourteen to eighteen years’ part of the curriculum. Most of the project management teachers of the trade schools have been professionally trained in project management and some of them have been certificated as junior project managers according to IPMA standards by PROJEKT MANAGEMENT AUSTRIA, the Austrian project management association.
In general high schools (“gymnasiums”) project management is not part of the curriculum, actually management topics even are considered as “esoteric” and not relevant for a general, academic education. Therefore the basis for implementing project management in these different school types is quite different.
Objectives of “PM in Schools”
It was not an objective of the project “PM in Schools” to further develop or to introduce project management in the curricula of schools, but to implement project management in schools for the management of school projects, such as organizing a school ball, or organizing an exchange program with a foreign school for a whole grade, or changing the cooperate identity of a school. By that the efficiency of school projects should be increased, the quality of the results should be improved, and a “project management learning on the project” should be organized.
Further a definition and a categorization of school projects should be developed, the project management methods should be adapted, to meet the requirements of school projects, standard project plans for school projects should be developed, and the costs and benefits regarding the management of school projects should be analyzed.
A literature search on project management in schools, on project management awards for pupils, and on project management curricula for schools was performed. Interviews with directors and teachers were conducted, and the following hypotheses regarding project management in schools were developed:
• Due to new services schools have to provide, and due to budget restrictions, there are more school projects. Some schools teach project management, but only few schools (in Austria) apply formal project management.
• The application of projects for the performance of school processes of large scope improves the quality of the results. Project management is not only relevant for “teaching projects.”
• Projects fulfill integrative functions in schools. The cooperation between the school director, representatives from the school administration, teachers, pupils, and representatives of parents promotes the mutual understanding.
• Schools can hold project portfolios of different project types. Project portfolios can be optimized by considering the relationships between the projects.
• The project management process can be applied to school projects. Appropriate project management methods have to be selected and an appropriate level of detail in the planning process has to be defined.
• The implementation of project management in schools might cause resistance, as new working forms, new communication structures, and new decision structures are required in projects.
These theses were further developed in a pilot implementation of project management in a “general” high school. This pilot implementation of project management took place in the Akademisches Gymnasium, Vienna. The director of the school, several teachers, fifteen pupils, and representatives of parents participated in different teams in this implementation process. The process was coached by a group of researchers and students of the PROJEKTMANAGEMENT GROUP. The following coaching functions were performed:
• Project management training for six teachers as well as for seven pupils in three half-day workshops.
• Project management consulting for the following three school projects: “IT into the Classroom,”“Organization of a Trip of Two Grades to Ireland,” and “Performance of the Annual School Ball.” The project start process and the project controlling process were supported by moderating project meetings and by developing appropriate project management documentations.
• Development of standard project plans for repetitive school projects (e.g., standard work breakdown structures, standard milestone lists).
• Provision of project management procedures and templates for school projects.
• Documentation of the project portfolio of the school in a project portfolio tool.
The overall results of the project “PM in Schools” were presented to some 200 representatives from Austrian schools in a half-day event in December 2001.
Results of the Pilot Implementation in the Akademisches Gymnasium
A school project was defined as a temporary organization, to perform a relatively unique business process of a school of medium or large scope. The criteria for a business process to qualify, to be performed in a (school) project, were defined as shown in Exhibit 14.
Different types of school projects were identified, as shown in Exhibit 15, and a portfolio of active and planned projects for the Akademisches Gymnasium was developed, as shown in Exhibit 16.
For repetitive projects, such as service projects and event projects, standard project plans (e.g., standard work breakdown structures, standard milestone plans, and standard project environment analyses) were developed. An example of a standard work breakdown structure for the project “School Trip to Ireland” is shown in Exhibit 17.
In several reflection meetings of the researchers and the co-operation partner Akademisches Gymnasium the following costs and benefits of the formal application of project management in school projects were defined:
• Projects and professional project management is one answer to the increasing dynamics in schools, and can contribute to the change process in schools.
• The application of project management in schools offers new marketing potentials for schools.
• School projects are socially complex, because of the required cooperation between school management, administration, teachers, pupils, and parents. The existing communication structures are hard to change.
• School projects are risky, because of the dependency on a few scarce personnel resources, and the voluntary character of project work.
• The application of project management methods for school projects is especially important in the project start process.
• In addition to traditional learning approaches, pupils (and teachers) can gain experience in project management by cooperating in “real” school projects.
• Project management does not create additional work; it increases the efficiency in the project. The decision to start a new project, the work on the project contents creates additional work.
• The educational missions of different high schools are different. Some promote the application of project management.
• Project management awards promote the application of project management in schools. A national project management association can confirm the project management knowledge of graduates from high schools when they pass exams organized by the association.
To further develop the competencies of a POS different strategies are required. Project-oriented companies have to develop the individual competencies of their employees and also the organizational competencies in project management, program management, and project portfolio management. Institutions providing project management related services have to further develop these services, and to offer them to new target groups.
To implement the strategy “Project Management for Everybody!” one deals with families, schools, small municipalities, small associations, churches, and so on. To assure the acceptance of project management by these new target groups, the project management methods need to be adapted and appropriate implementation strategies have to be developed. The promotion of “Project Management for Everybody!” not only improves the performance of projects in schools, families, and so on, but it also supports the professionalization of project management in the industry.
Gareis, R., and M. Huemann. (2000). PM-Competences in the project-oriented organization. In J. R. Turner and S. J. Smister (Eds.), The Gower Handbook of Project Management (pp. 709–721). Gower, Aldershot.
______. (2001). Assessing and benchmarking project-oriented societies. In Project Management—International Project Management Journal, Project Management Association Finland, Norwegian Project Management Forum 7 (1): 14–25.
Gareis, R. (2001). Research Report: Assessment and Benchmarking of Project-Oriented Societies: Results of the POS Benchmarking Group1. Vienna, Austria: University of Economics and Business Administration.
Luhmann, N. (1995). Social Systems. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.