IPMA International Project Management Association
8 February 2016 / 8:44

Doing the right projects and doing them right

Most of the organisations worldwide recognise the increasing importance of projects. For example, the private enterprises struggle for a competitive advantage through projects, public administration needs to deliver more with less (financial) resources and even the Not-for-profit organisations need to demonstrate their donors the sustainability of their spending. Thus, more of the same, using the same project management methodologies does not suffice. Different, more sophisticated concepts are needed.

Methodologies are mainly aiming at efficiency, or in other words, doing the projects right. There are many of those methodologies available, e.g. ISO 21500:2012 “Guidance on project management”, describing a process model from the initiation to the closure of a project. The benefit is to use the resources deployed in the most efficient way, or reaching more with less resources. However, it requires the project manager to tailor the methodologies to the specific needs of a project and not simply use it in a “copy and paste” manner. Many projects are embedded in a program, striving for long-term and strategic benefits. Those projects are interrelated with each other and require a higher level of management approach, e.g. programme management. For example, the Jeddah or Kingdom Tower located in the King Abdullah Economic City being developed in Jeddah, Saudi-Arabia, one of the world´s largest mega projects with many other related projects in that development area. They all need to be managed in a coordinated way from a long-term perspective. Programme management levers project management to the next dimension, aiming more for effectiveness than efficiency. The ISO/TC258/WG4 is in the process of finalising the upcoming ISO 21503 “Guidance on programme management”, an increasingly important international standard. Already published, the ISO 21504 “Guidance on portfolio management” describes what should be done to link all projects and programmes to the strategic intent of an organisation, to select and prioritise the right projects and programmes as well as balances the resources deployed. In other word, the project portfolio managements aspires “doing the right projects”. Together with, or combined with professional programme and project management the slogan “doing the right projects and doing them right” could come true.

The IPMA Organisational Competence Baseline (IPMA OCB®), recently published in the version 1.1describes a way, how an organisation can organise all the projects, programmes and portfolios in the most effective AND efficient way. This IPMA Global Standard aims at Senior Executives and Top Management to set the framework and thus the prerequisites for doing the right projects and doing them right. The IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (IPMA ICB®), now in version 4.0, describes the individual competences needed for managing projects, programmes and portfolios. The new version reflects the need for a clear distinction of the three domains, because different target audiences with specific competence requirements in their roles are addressed. The IPMA 4-Level-Certification will also be changed and offer from late 2017 on specific certifications for project, programme and portfolio managers. All three domains build on competence related to the areas of “people” (formerly called “behavioural competences”), “practice” (formerly called “technical competences”) and “perspective” (formerly called “contextual competences”). Finally, the new IPMA Project Excellence Baseline® (IPMA PEB) complements the two other standards, showing how to reach excellent results through application of project and programme management in a given context. The standard is also used to assess projects for the IPMA Project Excellence Awards. Altogether, IPMA leads the evolution of the profession and aims at a world in which all projects succeed.



  • Simone Watt says:

    I would love to hear from anyone who can point me in the right direction in terms of the first part of this article ‘doing the right projects’. I work in a private organisation where there are many potential ideas and investments – all in support of the strategic vision – but no formal way to prioritise. Consequently, everything gets escalated to the CFO’s desk and then the decisions become somewhat subjective and inconsistent. This also creates a significant bottle-neck leading to frustration and slippage. I believe what we need is a structured decision-framework that will allow both delegated authority for smaller investments and a robust tool for comparison / evaluation for all. Very keen to hear recommendations from any members.

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Author of this post

Dr. Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 35 years in the field of project-related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Automotive, Engineering, and Consultancy, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, a leading PM Consultancy in Munich/Germany, he supports executives of industrial clients in transforming their companies towards a project-oriented, adaptive and sustainably successful organization. He has published more than 40 books as well as several hundred articles and blog posts in the field of project management. In more than 20 years of voluntary engagement he served the German Project Management Association (GPM) as well as the IPMA in various roles and was granted for his international commitment with the Honorary Fellowship of IPMA and several of its member associations. He received his doctorate in the field of projectification of society and continues to be active in it through his research and lectures.