Organizational Standards

Article excerpt


Is the business community ready to advance organizationwide use of project management standards?

MARGARET WHITE, PH.D.: I don't think it would be appropriate for the business community to advance organizationwide use of project management standards. This is true for several reasons.

Not all areas of the organization lend themselves to project management structures all of the time. Project management requires a certain set of criteria.

Some firms do not have the size to truly utilize a project management-based format. For small firms, there are aspects of project management that would benefit them, but applying project management standards would be inefficient.

In addition, creative ventures are less project management-oriented than others because of time factors. It is difficult to force new product development. Again, there are certain elements of the project management standards that would help, but not all would be beneficial.

ROB THOMSETT: I think the business community is starting to become interested in organizationwide standards in project management and a community to support those standards. For example, the Australian Department of Immigration and Linfox, one of the largest shipping and trucking companies in Australia, have both contacted us with the intent to advance standards. Because of the degree of organizational change to meet both competition and government regulation in both cases, they see the benefits.

The IT community historically has taken the lead in project management. The business community wants to take that back. They have more projects than IT to deliver, and although IT has developed efficient models, they want to use them. The third driver is the need for organizations to deliver on projects rather than just talk about them. There's a real question about how projects get initiated and delivered.

Are there geographic regions that have accepted project management standards to a greater degree?

DR. WHITE: I don't know that geographic regions are the determiner as much as industry is. I think there are some industries that lend themselves better to project management. They are better able to grasp it because they use it more. These industries have unique projects, processes and deadlines.

Obviously, construction industries have embraced the project management concepts and standards more than some other industries. All industries are beginning to catch on, but they're not there yet In telecommunications, for example, projects are centered in the engineering department, and accounting doesn't have the same number of projects. So they have developed standard operating procedures instead.

MR. THOMSETT: I can't discern specific regional patterns, except the size of the country. In the Australian prime minister's department, a central project management group overlooks all projects within the federal government. That's another example of the business community being very focused on project management. However, Australia is very small-we only have about 300,000 public servants.

In Italy, there is a similar department, and I met the person responsible for writing project management standards for the Italian government. In the U.K., they use PRINCE. All three countries are seeing the strategic value of project management at the highest level. I don't think it's a cultural issue-it's a size issue.

Are cross-industry project management standards preferable to industry-specific standards/policies/procedures? On an enterprise level, what are the factors that lead to the adoption of cross-industry standards?

DR. WHITE: There are three levels that should be viewed. There are some elements that can be uniform across all industries. A basic definition of projects is needed to fully utilize project management practices and standards. …