IPMA International Project Management Association
27 September 2022 / 11:00

Project Management as-a-service (PMaaS): Time to think from within the box

❝It is not what you sell but what you solve that really matters❞

Project Management as-a-Service (PMaaS) is an emerging concept and is seen as a shift in thinking and mindset in how project management can be used. It is touted as a new business model in line with a series of on-demand cloud-based service offerings such as Infrastructure as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform as-a-Service (PaaS), Desktop as-a-Service (DaaS), to name a few (Harrin, 2014).

The question remains, what PMaaS is? Whether it has any practical utility? Apparently, it is a suite of cloud-based solutions that allow project planning, and assist in project execution, monitoring and control.

For the purpose of developing an understanding, we define PMaaS as an approach to improve the effectiveness of project management within an organization by integrating internal capabilities with expertise and technological solutions of external service providers for demand-driven resource procurement, utilization and management; real-time project monitoring and on-demand troubleshooting of issues and known risks throughout the project life-cycle.

It is a contractual arrangement that is expected to provide options to sponsor organizations or individuals to achieve cost and investment efficiencies on the projects by reducing capital investments associated with the management of an army of project management professionals and development of internal project management capabilities—something that they may consider a non-core business activity.

The proponents of PMaaS approach boast a number of benefits of adopting this approach. These include providing correct resources at the correct time, trimming down the number of project management staff and saving costs, getting staff with varying levels of experience and skills based on the needs of specific tasks in the project lifecycle, and cutting costs on having human resources staff and capabilities to hire project staff on an on-demand basis, enjoying the flexibility of initiating wide-range of projects with little in-house expertise to execute such projects, transfer of risks by not having people on the pay-roll but still working for the projects (Harrin, 2014; Habibi, 2020).

From a practical implementation and operationalization perspective, PMaaS based arrangement could be complex or complicated or both. Organizations may outsource tactical or operational part of their project management efforts and exercise control on the strategic part of project management, including decisions on launching new projects and setting criteria for benefits realization management, level of involvement and coordination with the external on-demand PMaaS provider and the level of inputs and feedback of PMaaS provider going into decision-making process of top management project committee, e.g., steering committee.

However, given that the level of maturity of project management in a typical organization is not very high, the use and operationalization of PMaaS could be challenging. Those organisations that are project management mature may face resistance from their internal project management staff, who may see embracing PMaaS as a threat than an opportunity.

In addition to operationalization challenges, organisations involved in PMaaS arrangements will also face other challenges. These include, but are not limited to, ownership of project data when a PMaaS provider is involved, issues related to abandoning of projects mid-way through the project life-cycle by the PMaaS provider and the legal and project-related ramifications of such occurring, legal issues when PMaaS provider is outside the geographical jurisdiction of the sponsor organization, security or project related data, data privacy issues etc.

While the concept of on-demand project management seems appealing, no doubt a lot needs to be done before it can realistically take off from a practical utility perspective. There are more unknowns than knowns at the moment in using on-demand project management. The situation offers an opportunity to build further knowledge on the concept and document the experience of those who have used PMaaS to make sense of things and ease out some of the operational bottlenecks.

As Michael Dell of Dell Inc. said, “Ideas are commodities. Execution of them is not”, and perhaps that could be a starting point to develop some thought leadership around the value proposition of PMaaS and build knowledge-based confidence for the use of this new concept for further developments in project management.

Acknowledgements: This article was previously published on projectmanagement.com


Habibi, B. (2020), Why project management as a service makes sense, https://systelligent.com/why-project-management-as-a-service-makes-sense/
Harrin, E. (2014), Project Management as a Service: The New Model, http://www.projectmanagement.com/articles/288782/Project-Management-as-a-Service–The-New-Model

© 2022 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.


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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community. His work has been published in top scientific journals as well as industry outlets.