Six years ago, I was asked to examine the status of project management in Spain by the First Global Project Management Forum in New Orleans, La., USA. At the time, there was not a single PMI Chapter in Spain, although other project management associations, such as Asociación Española de Ingeníera de Proyectos (AEIPRO), Asociación Española de Dirección Integrada de Proyectos (AEDIP) and Asociación Española de Project Management (AEPM), had started. The majority of practitioners came from the construction, oil and gas engineering, military engineering, civil engineering, automotive and information technology industries. Many of those industries used project management only to monitor and control their projects.
Since then, the project management world has changed dramatically, and upper management's support of project management is more vital than ever. Gaining buy-in is easier said than done. Senior managers commonly believe project management is something tactical that is related to project managers only, not important to the management team.
Most organizations spend time and money training project managers, but few explain project management to executives. If executives cannot understand the value of project management and they don't know how to link projects to the organizational strategy, they will not be able to support their project managers and organizational goals.
Some consulting organizations organize frequent events for executives to explain how projects must be linked to organizational strategy to achieve overall success. These sessions help executives understand the characteristics of the project world and how to select the right project managers to achieve the best outcomes.
During the past several years, project management has become more recognized in Spain. More companies want to know what project management really means. Spanish people increasingly seek certification. Since 1995, several Spanish project management associations have chartered, and in October 2003, the first PMI chapter in Spain was created. Two months later, a second Spanish PMI Potential Chapter was recognized in Barcelona.
Upper management's support of project management is more vital than ever.
But we must continue to spread our knowledge of project management at organizations, universities and in government. Four years ago, some Spanish universities in Barcelona and Madrid began offering masters degrees in project management.
Some business schools are offering project management workshops, and Spanish professionals can get a doctorate in project management at Zaragoza University, among others. Young people understand very well the changing world in which we are living and the need to acquire skills for dealing with those changes.
In Spanish government institutions, project management is not yet well understood. Spanish project management associations, including PMI chapters, must make a special effort to organize events oriented to the government project's issues. They must reinforce project management development and encouraging certification, but it will take some time to achieve buy-in.
More Spanish professionals are speaking a common project management language, but the executives must listen and understand what we are trying to communicate. We are converting our vision to a reality throughout project management, but there still is room to grow and evolve. Today, we must realize the extent of our progress as well as how we will address the challenges that will decide our future, both in Spain and around the world. PM
Alfonso Bucero, PMP, is managing director of the International Institute for Learning's Madrid, Spain office. He trains project managers throughout Europe and helped implement project offices at Hewlett-Packard, CAIXA GALICIA, CEPSA and GRUPO EROSKI.