Project Management in the Helping Professions
JEANNETTE CABANIS-BREWIN, PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, INC.
A new commercial jet. A skyscraper. A software product. These are kinds of deliverables that project management cut its teeth on, and with which project managers can readily identify. But increasingly, project management is being applied to enterprises where the ultimate deliverable might be expressed as something like “lessened human suffering,” “improved understanding of a social problem,” “a safer society for children,” or “an increased awareness of the arts.” Is the discipline of project management, as currently understood, applicable to projects where outcomes concern individual and social welfare, education, and development?
Every year, all across the globe, billions of dollars are invested in projects to alleviate poverty, improve public health, bolster infrastructure, and address other quality of life issues. Yet, until recently, project management has remained a foreign language to most in the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations who perform the majority of this important work. In this chapter, I will examine two branches of the helping professions—community development NGOs and not-for-profit organizations—to discover what barriers exist to employing project management discipline and tools to making the world a better place for all.
Early in my study of project management, one of the most moving experiences involved a project to measure participant