Monday, 10 March 2014

Project Management Around the World – A Kiwi’s View from Europe

This post is part of the #PMFlashBlog initiative originally kick started by Shim Marom and taken forward into round two by Mark Phillipy, The Sensible PM. The twist this time is that readers will be taken on a 7 week journey as people involved in projects around the globe blog about project management where they live. 
This topic posed a challenge for a number of reasons... 

While I live in Italy I rarely work with Italian companies so it doesn’t make sense for me to write about project management in Italy. In Europe it’s common for projects to cross borders but each country and company is different. Some are very formal and structured, others use specific methodologies or have their own in-house ones, and then there are those with operations across numerous countries where they’re trying to achieve some sense of commonality within their projects yet at the same time remain flexible to local dynamics. 
It’s not unusual for a project to be managed by someone in one country on behalf of an organisation in another for a customer in a 3rd with a team spread across many others including different time zones and languages. The dynamics of these projects and business initiatives can mean soft skills outweigh the hard ones particularly when working with virtual teams. This is a situation which is very much the norm here in Europe. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing projects in Europe, the underlying fundamentals of project management are the same wherever you are in the world. Cultural diversity combined with the size and type of organisation may influence how they are applied. 
The other challenge is the fact that I’m not a Project Manager.  Yes my work is project based but project management as a process is not my focus. My focus is delivery and project management alone is not enough to make that happen. Much more is required and needs to be demanded of those who sponsor, lead and manage projects if organisations are going to derive full business value from them; business value not just ROI. For real business value projects must remain strategically aligned and business relevant. Executive and Senior Management cannot be missing in action. They must provide solid and sound governance. They also need to give a damn otherwise the project is a waste of time, money and effort. Project Managers need to focus on delivering business outcomes not just control via the process. 
This leads us round to experience and maturity; the experience of those who are managing projects and the maturity of project management within organisations and as a market offering. Across Europe and the UK there’s a general trend towards project management as a profession. Universities and professional bodies such as the Association for Project Management (APM) are offering ever more qualifications and certifications. This can help individuals specialise further but it also runs the risk of generating a demand for something that isn’t actually needed. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. 
Overall organisations in Europe will continue to make investments in initiatives and need people to lead, manage and deliver business outcomes from them. How much or how little project management is applied in doing so will depend on how much or how little those organisations believe they’ll benefit from it. In the meantime they can keep hiring me.

Footnote: About “#PMFlashBlog – Project Management Around the World”
This post is part of the second round of the #PMFlashBlog where over 50 project management bloggers will release a post about their view of project management in their part of the world. Beginning with North America then followed by Europe & Australia bloggers will post their view each Monday for several weeks until we've gone around the world.

The complete list of all participating blogs is found here so please, go and check them out!


  1. Love your post! You've provided the trend of the "world view" at large at play in organizations today. Projects are all about people, process and politics so tying results of a successful delivery and outcomes will require a strong PM with leadership skills and more...

  2. You'll not be much surprised to learn I agree with what you've contributed. Projects are not the topic of interest, it's benefits delivery that matters. Only suppliers can draw a boundary where currently everyone has been told it belongs

  3. Great post Deanne. Really like your theme about execs needing to give a damn to avoid wasting of time, money and effort.