IPMA International Project Management Association
13 March 2017 / 7:33

Projects and project management in Vietnam

The Socialistic Republic of Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest and Cambodia to the southwest. The people of Vietnam had to defend themselves from other countries over a long period of time, since the 13th Century the Chinese, later the Mongols, the French and American troops were intruding the territory. Influences of these countries can still be found in Vietnam. Firstly, Vietnam was part of Imperial China from 111 BC to AD 939. Following a Vietnamese victory in a Battle at the Bạch Đằng River, an independent state was formed, through successive imperial dynasties the nation flourished and expanded geographically and politically. Nearly a thousand years Vietnam could develop. But during the mid-19th Century the French colonized the nation. Following the Japanese occupation during the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. The conflict between the two sides intensified in what is known as the Vietnam War, which is still visible in many places and memorials. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975, but left Vietnam devastated, with a death toll of nearly four million people. Along with China, Cuba, and Laos, is one of the world’s four remaining one-party socialist states officially espousing communism. Capital of Vietnam has been Hanoi since reunification in 1976.

Vietnam’s socialist-oriented market economy is a developing planned economy and market economy. Since the mid-1980s, through an economic renovation period officially called “Đổi Mới”, Vietnam has made a shift from a highly centralized planned economy to a mixed economy that uses both directive and indicative planning through five-year plans. Over that period, the economy has experienced rapid growth. Last year the nominal GDP reached 220 billion US$ and Vietnam is in a period of being integrated into the global economy. Almost all Vietnamese enterprises are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Vietnam has become a leading agricultural exporter and served as an attractive destination for foreign investment in Southeast Asia, industries such as Automotive are moving activities from the former power house China into Vietnam. The ASEAN Agreement, several bilateral agreements and the recently signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will also help Vietnam to boost its economy. A key asset for Vietnam is the young generation, the Generation Z, who were born from the 1990s onwards. This generation’s way of thinking is more aggressive with some attitude to start a culture change in Vietnamese tradition. This generation was born in a modern world with information technology and international influences. They are also very high motivation to achieve their dream instead of following the family wills and values.

International organisations like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are performing projects for humanitarian and societal development. The free trade agreements requires Vietnam also to update the infrastructure, which pushes massive investments including but not limited to upgrades and construction of roads, bridges, and railways, expanding capacity and reliability of power grids in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, construction and development of industrial parks and complexes as well as the expansion of existing port capacities. Also the Energy Sector of Vietnam is looking for new opportunities, such as reducing the fuel import, increasing the proportion of households with solar water heating devices, and scaling up the application of biogas technologies.

The profession of project management is not really developed in Vietnam. There is no national or international project management association established yet. Some education and training providers try to reach out in Vietnam, mainly to the organisations with links to international companies or investments. However, there is great need for professional project management in Vietnam. This is why IPMA started discussions with key stakeholders from Government, Universities, the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, major users of project management and service providers, on how to establish a national project management association, which would become an IPMA Member in early 2018. This would perfectly add to regional activities of IPMA Member Associations and APFPM, the Asian Pacific Federation of Project Management, establishing a dialogue about professional project management in the region. Stay tuned for the next report from the region.


  • Herbert Gonder says:

    In case you need local support please let me know. Since two years i did several presentations and workshops in HCMC for non profit organizations. As a PMP, Level B PM and Swiss Assessor for Level C I would enjoy to participate in teaching, training and presentation activities.

  • Great to know, thanks for the feedback. Best regards from Asia

  • I worked two times in Hanoi and was wonderfull. Beautifull country. And the people was very warm

  • Anthony Wood says:

    Hi Reinhard, I’m quite interested in this particular topic and would like to stay ‘in the loop’ on future posts in this theme. Is there a way I can subscribe to this topic?

  • Dear Anthony, Les Squires, our Facebook curator added a hashtag #MovingForwardVietnam to the IPMA Family Facebook site, so you may follow this one or the blog in general. Best regards Reinhard

  • Frank Parth says:

    For about 8 years I visited Saigon (HCMC) every year to teach project management classes on a pro-bono basis. My last year there I taught construction project management to a government agency. At one point I was on Vietnamese TV.

    They have a lot going on, and could use a lot of help to move themselves forward.

  • Bob Youker says:

    I was a project management trainer for the World Bank from 1975 to 1987 and a consultant there after for them and the Asian Development Bank. Recently I send materials on PM to the Bank office in Cambodia or Vietnam. I would suggest you work with the local World Bank Offices. My digital 6 week PM training course is now available free on the World Bank Web site.

  • Thanks Bob, will point them to the link, there is a vibrant young generation growing up and demanding things to move on in their country, that´s good news for the development

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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.