IPMA International Project Management Association
5 August 2015 / 8:06

Projects and project management in Germany

After writing about many other countries, I chose my own country to be the next one to highlight. It is Germany, or better the Federal Republic of Germany. It was named after Julius Caesar naming the area east of the Rhine river “Germania”.

Nowadays, Germany comprises of 16 states, with the well-known Bavaria in the South, Hamburg in the North and the Capital Berlin in the East. Since the Reunification in 1990, all inhabitants in East and West of Germany account to more than 80 million. The economy is strong, building on major industries, such as Automotive, but the main success factor of the German economy are the small and medium-sized companies, the so-called “Mittelstand”.  They account for more than 90% of the GDP and often play a key role as “hidden champions” on the global markets. Besides traditional industry, service-oriented sectors such as logistics, finance, insurance, engineering as well as tourism are main drivers for success the success of Germany. It is the balance between “Fleißigkeit” and “Gemütlichkeit” which makes us happy.


Projects are an important factor for the Germany economy. Recent studies conclude, that approximately 40% of the turnover and the activities of the companies are performed as projects. A survey of the German Project Management Association (GPM) previously revealed, that nearly 40% of the GDP is based on projects, and the trends are showing increasing numbers. Project Management is a mature discipline in most of sectors. In public sector the awareness of projects and project management starts to flourish, but is lagging behind other countries. A good example of this is the failed Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Originally planned to open in 2010, new plans point to 2017 as earliest opening date for the airport. Another example of lack of competence in the public sector is the Elbe Philharmonic Hall


Like the Sydney Opera it is an iconic building and supposably a great concert hall, but the delays and cost overruns harm our image. However, it will be another tourist attraction and on the long run pay off for the City of Hamburg.

Germany was influential in developing project management and moving the profession forward. Already in the 1960s, network planning experts developed standards for the German Institute for Standardization (DIN). 1965, a group of enthusiasts around Roland Gutsch, who was employed with the famous aerospace and defence company Dornier was starting to cooperate with colleagues in France and the UK, which led into the formation of IPMA in the year 1965. While starting IPMA off, the German experts forgot to start their own, national association. The sixth conference of that international Network (INTERNET) happened 1979 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and acted as incubator for GPM, the German Project Management Association. It grew since then to more than 7200 members nowadays and is one of the largest associations within IPMA. Its headquarter is in Nuremberg and a second office is located in the heart of Berlin



Nevertheless, GPM is organised in more than 35 regions, practising an intensive exchange of experience in that region and developing know-how through about 40 Special Interest Groups (SIGs), ranging from Automotive Project Management to Project Management in the Wind Sector

The annual PM Forum is gathering more than a thousand participants from all sectors and regions, this year the 31st PM Forum is held end of October in Nuremberg. The IPMA 4-Level-Certification System is well established in Germany, more than 6.500 certificate are reached out this year, including specific certificates for trainer, consultants as well as a foundational certificate for students. A well-elaborated system for education and training is established in Germany. Starting with the renowned initiative “PM macht Schule” GPM starts to support adolescents at secondary school level, continues training activities during vocational schools and universities. GPM has 30 accredited trainers, performing trainings on all four levels (“4-L-Qualification System”). Furthermore, a Train-the-Trainer service, a learning programme for consultants and many other training offerings, including materials such as learning cards, a field book and specific literature are key for the success of both, qualification and Certification.


Finally, research activities, publications (e.g. books and the periodical PMAktuell) and the GPM Blog are part of an attractive offering of GPM in the national context. It has established close relationships with Project Management Austria (pma), the Swiss Project Management Association (spm) as well as many other association around the world.

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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.