IPMA International Project Management Association
16 November 2015 / 8:25

Human resource management in the project-oriented organization

Project management is often solely seen as methodology. Since the 1990s, the organisational context of projects is getting more attention. The more projects an organisation is performing, the more it turns into a project-oriented organisation. It means to change the focus from routine work to projects and thus to support the project management with all existing functions, including but not limited to the Human Resource (HR) function. I would argue, a project-oriented organisation needs to foster a symbiotic interaction between HR and all project-oriented functions. Martina Huemann recently published a great book at Gower Publishing, which is titled “Human resource management in the project-oriented organizationtowards a viable system for project personnel” It inspired me to write this blogpost.

HR can do a lot for project management. First of all, finding the most competent people for the projects and programmes an organisation is performing, to bring them on board of the organisation and assist them in getting the right job according to their competences. In addition, HR can establish a career path for project personnel, which allows them to progress their career through projects and programmes as defined by the organisation and its management. This should be accompanied by a rich toolbox for competence development, ranging from training, coaching, mentoring, learning-on the job to blended-learning offerings. All this needs to be developed, administered and continuously improved by the HR department in close cooperation with the Project Management Department or the Project Management Office (PMO). The IPMA Organisational Competence Baseline (IPMA OCB®) shows a possible road ahead for a project-oriented organisation in developing peoples´ competences in the context of projects, programmes and portfolios (PP&P).

The HR function is often involved in the change activities of an organisation. Thus, an HR department should understand project management as tool for making change happen in the most effective way. It may also be the sponsor of change projects or managing it with own people. This means, project management is getting more and more important for HR personnel for developing and delivering their services. The PM Department or PMO could help the HR Department in making appropriate methods and tools available to them. The more projects an organisation is performing in all the different functions and management levels, the more project competences are needed. The HR Department or PMO together with the HR Department could prepare all functions (e.g. Purchasing, R&D, Logistics) and management levels (e.g. staff, line managers, top management) in fulfilling their respective roles in the context of PP&P. IPMA has recently published the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline, which is ideally the baseline for all development activities on the way to a project-oriented or even project-based organisation. However, it requires the HR and PM functions to join forces.    



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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.