IPMA International Project Management Association
5 July 2017 / 7:11

Project benefits vs project value

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

Thomas Jefferson

During my PhD research I faced with one of the tricky questions of the project management profession. Since my topic is related to infrastructure megaprojects I started to question the essence of the megaprojects existence. When I just entered the field, like a junior Project Manager, in the Croatian Association for Project Managers, I did not know anything about project management. I never learned how do you manage your project, team members and yourself. My mission was to complete the project that I was assigned for, and about which I was very enthusiastic (New World of Work). After a while, I saw myself entering a role of a PhD student, with an interest in project management. It was after a while that I find my passion in better understanding of megaprojects. Even than, when I heard for the first time this word, it sound powerful. The thing that triggered me most was the idea that successful megaproject could be important component of economy development in my country, in all the countries. And that is how I started to develop the storyline on the impact that megaprojects could have for the community development.

I was amazed by the idea that a huge investment like megaproject could transform the destiny of a country. When I read famous Merrow’s book on the Industrial Megaprojects, I found inspiring thought that colored my philosophy about megaprojects: Megaprojects – Creators and Destroyers of Capital (Merrow, 2011:11). Currently, I am in the middle of conducting my research on the topic of megaprojects and what I found shocking is that most megaproject managers do not care much when it comes to the long term goals of the megaproject. When it comes to the project execution, megaproject methodology covers all the phases of the project and techniques helps in the work. But, what covers impact that one megaproject will have for future generations? Is it a value of 40% of country GDP, like Panama Canal, or creating a city brand, like Tower of Pisa (initialy unsuccessfull megaproject)?

Therefore, there is a question of value, importance of benefits that a megaproject brings to the wider community. Although benefits are crutial for the on going business of megaprojects, if they stand alone there is not much to be said about long term goals, that should follow the vision of a megaproject. Interest goes beyond a final quater report of the year – it goes to children of our children. Benefits of the projects should be rooted in the values of the project (Aubry, Sergi and El Boukri, 2016: 292).

In this year’s IRNOP conference that was held in Boston I was listening fantastic explanation of my concern regarding benefits of megaprojects. In her unique presentation, prof Aubry (paper of the presentation was written together with Viviane Sergi and Sanaa El Boukri) gives four themes approach in the benefits of management research. Major themes of benefits management are explained trough:

  • Measurability,
  • Evaluation process of benefits,
  • Organizational change and
  • Performance.

Conclusion of their research is that benefits should be viewed as outputs and inputs of ongoing episodes of social practices that shape them (Aubry, Sergi and El Boukri, 2016: 292). Their paper is a must read for a better understanding of benefits management. If the same principle would be applied to creating the values for the megaprojects in the conceptual phase, before making ideas on the benefits, there would be more chance for the survival of the long term goals. IPMA values supports the Strategy of IPMA in whole, and therefore is a useful to take a look the ICB4 standard, while thinking about developing values for your own project. Megaprojects could follow the same.

In my next blog post I will share with you my concerns about Project Management competences, and how we should look more into the skillset that manage the data, than data itself.


Merrow, E.W. (2011) Industrial Megaprojects: Concepts, Strategies, and Practices for Success, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Aubry, M., Sergi, V. and El Boukri, S. (2016) Opening the black box of benefits management in the context of projects, IRNOP 2017 conference: The Modern Project: Mindsets, Toolsets, and Theoretical Frameworks, Boston University: Boston (USA).

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Author of this post

Sandra currently works as Assistant to the IPMA President and Executive Director. Since joining IPMA in 2012, Sandra worked in FMCG sector for Procter&Gamble. She holds Master in Economics from Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb. After graduation she continued at the same University the doctoral programme in Business Economics. Her particular research interest is behavioral economics.