IPMA International Project Management Association
25 March 2019 / 9:00

It takes a good strategy and strong implementation to build a Smart City

The Austrian capital Vienna again tops the Smart City Index, Roland Berger’s analysis of 153 cities around the world. Second in the ranking is another European city, London. On average, however, it’s mainly Asian metropolises that demonstrate the most compelling Smart City strategies. Remarkably, 90 percent of the analysed cities still do not have an integrated strategy. There is also a lot of work to do on implementation. Successful Smart Cities implement their strategy with the help of a central decision-making entity and pilot projects.

Here project, programme and portfolio management come into play. As outlined in the IPMA Insight No. 1 on Smart Cities the ‘smartness’ of a city can be described as an ability to bring together all resources, to achieve agreed-upon goals effectively and seamlessly and to fulfil the purposes that the city has set itself. It describes how well all different city systems and the people, institutions, finances, facilities and infrastructures involved are working efficiently, acting in an integrated as well as coherent way, to enable potential synergies to be exploited and the city to function holistically facilitating innovation and growth. As most of the activities in the context of smart cities are performed in form of projects and programmes, the IPMA Organisational Competence Baseline (IPMA OCB®) could be used for guidance purposes. IPMA OCB defines the foundations of the concept of organisational competence in managing projects, its elements and their interactions. It explains what an organisation (such as the city government) can do to improve its competence in managing projects and programmes continuously. It provides city government leaders and consultants involved in developing project management capability with a standard from which to start their development activities. These could also be based on the results of an independent IPMA Delta® assessment, using the expertise of national and international assessors.

As in Roland Berger´s Smart City Index 2017, Vienna finishes top of the pile. The Austrian capital has updated its 2015 framework strategy with a digital agenda, and scores highly due to factors such as its robust system of performance monitoring. This has improved coordination and cooperation between activities and individual players, and helped to sharpen its smart objectives ahead of another strategy update. According to the survey, leading cities perform best when it comes to capability. Vienna, for example, has introduced the Smart City Vienna Agency, a central coordination unit that promotes links between the city administration, research, business and industry. Similar agencies in Singapore, Chicago, Shanghai and Birmingham drive a high capability score. Meanwhile, London has appointed a Chief Digital Officer advised by a board of Smart City experts.

When it comes to the implementation status of projects, Roland Berger´s survey states that most of the top cities have either completed or are piloting flagship projects. For example, Vienna was the first city in the German-speaking world to publish public data and is one of the pioneers in Open Government Data. And Singapore is piloting a National Digital Identity scheme. The SingPass authentication system allows citizens to access hundreds of digital government services and transact securely with private companies. Most cities also track the progress of such projects, but Vienna and London have gone one step further. The Austrian capital not only evaluates individual projects, but also measures progress towards its long term goals, such as reduced emissions.

There is a lot to learn from success stories around the world, stay tuned and follow IPMA and its Smart City Special Interest Group, which meets in Seoul and Belgrade during May to exchange experiences and learn from each other.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.