Essays about Previous Congresses: Shanghai, 2006
Tsipes Grigorii Lvovich
The 20th Anniversary IPMA World Project Management Congress was held in Shanghai on October 15-17. Fresh impressions from the Congress inspired me to write these notes during the flight Shanghai-Moscow. Therefore, they cannot claim the full analysis of the main subject of the Congress, thus they based only on direct impressions of those reports, which the author of the notes managed to listen personally and that is only one and a half dozen from more than a hundred presentations. Nonetheless, I dare not only to talk about specific reports and trends but also to formulate the logic of modern project management development based on the Congress materials.
Leitmotif of this Congress became the topic that was quite unexpected for me. Multiply repeated in presentations from different sectors, it was reduced to the following theses:
- modern projects are becoming more complex and their risks are multiply growing;
- the most serious risks in the projects fall on the «human factor»;
- the «human factor» risks can be decreased differently, however, the most effective way is learning.
I am not going to prove or deny this logic but simple statistics of the Congress presentations demonstrates that the most part of the professional society perceives exactly like that current processes and changes in project management.
About 30 reports were dedicated to the risks in the projects and more than half of them to the risks of the "human factor". Nevertheless, in this case the most unexpected for me became increased focus on learning.
LEARNING, CERTIFICATION AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
Reports about learning, certification and professional standards in project management didn’t fit into special thematic section (it is also significant that this section was number one) and were distributed throughout the Congress program including plenary sessions. More than 20 reports in total presented different aspects of professional learning in project management like standards of the competencies, methodologies, organizational forms, specific experience.
Among all this diversity, I would highlight two reports that, in my opinion, mark the most important trend in the modern stage of project management development. This tendency consists of project management culture that globally penetrates into the public service.
The report of David Dombkins «Redefining My Profession — Complex Project Management» presented the competencies standard for the employees of the Australian Government Defense Industry developed by a group of Australian professionals. As everything that is penned by Australian project management specialists, this standard captivates with its comprehensive coverage and detailed elaboration.
The report of Joseph Alba «Project Management Licensing Scheme for UK Government» presented a specific approach to the training and certification of the British civil service employees (interesting enough to note that it also says about defense industry). The scope of the training program is impressive — even on the pilot stage it covers 200 employees involved in the finance and contractual aspect of the department activity.
Summing up telling about the topic, it is impossible not to mention the discussion appeared around the new ICB 3.0 competencies standard. That discussion wasn’t planned beforehand and arose spontaneously around the report of Vladimir Voropaev and his co-authors about comprehensiveness analysis of the new standard.
CORPORATE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
The second major tendency considered at the Congress was corporate project management issues. A whole series of reports were dedicated to strategic project management issues. Great attention was paid to the application of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) methodology, although these approaches in project management didn’t seem yet obvious for many participants .
The question about the report of Grigoriy Tsipes and Grigoriy Tsiperman «Political Risks of IT Projects» was characteristic in this sense. The point of this question was whether it is worth deriving the need for an IT project from such «lofty matters» as corporate strategy. The speaker’s reply was quite simple: «Yes, it is hard work, however, without doing it, we will continue to implement «successfully» information technologies and we won’t realise whether we need them». The strong positive reaction of the audience only confirmed the relevance of the topic.
Apparently, an interest to this tendency in project management development will continue to grow in the future. It has been announced already that the next IPMA Congress in Krakow will dedicate separate thematic section to strategic project management. Among all reports in this direction presented in Shanghai, I would highlight the presentation of James Goff (Australia) «Corporate Improvement Project for Project Management: Measurement by Key Performance Indicators» that examines in detail project management practice focused on the development of the company and methods to measure the success of this activity. The report of Peter Stimer (Germany) «How to Find the Right Project» reflects strategic project management practice in the Siemens A.G. company and it was also interesting.
The topics that have been actively discussed by the professional society in last years were barely presented there like maturity standards of the project-oriented organization and project management office (one presentation only per each topic). Apparently it is caused by the fact that in the first case OPM3 standard has fallen short of expectations for now and in the second case the project office has strongly come in common use, therefore, there are no longer no methodological nor practical type of issues.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE INSTRUMENTS
General wary perception of the Congress audience regarding technical methods of project management has also affected here. Foremost, I note that there were not so many reports about project management software instruments, moreover, software tools were barely presented on the exhibition that was completely unusual for the Congresses.
The skeptical mood of the audience vividly illustrates an episode related to the discussion of the report made by group of authors representing the Bremen Project Management Institute and the Siemens AG Transportation Systems Erlangen. The report had an intriguing title: «Tool Set for Stakeholder Management: Theory and Practice». Every project manager dreams about such an instrument though they imagine it differently. However, the speech was made about the software tool. The only question from the audience sounded like a reflection of failed expectations: «So, what exactly does your software allow to do with stakeholders anyway?». Naturally, it was a joke but the report itself and the approach to stakeholders management offered by the authors seemed to me very interesting.
SHANGHAI, KRAKOW, ROME…
There were only three Russian reports in the Shanghai Congress presentation. Every year there are fewer and fewer of our representatives in the Congress. Don’t we have the specialists who would find useful to listen to the world lead experts or no projects that should be discussed in a professional, friendly and interested environment or no companies which have the abilities to send their employees to similar forums?
Certainly, in order to have an opportunity to listen and to be heard you have to pay. Participation fee in the Congress is quite high, there are not so many specialists who opt to pay out of their pocket for it. Hence, it means that employer has to pay, however, what will he receive instead?
Primarily, employer will get professional and personal growth of his specialists. Believe me, two-three days spent in this environment can give no less than a multi-day academic course. Nowadays, in most Russian companies, projects are managed by very young people. They might be good enough as specialists but they are not professional experts yet, they are not able to confirm their high formal status by true authority.
The report presented on the World Congress (especially the first) is not only a matter of prestige, it is a serious stage in personality development and the way to realize yourself as a professional. Investing money in that makes sense.
One more: the Congresses traditionally are held in the world capitals in the most beautiful cities of the planet. Krakow received the Congress on June, 2007, Rome will do that on November 2008. Send there your employees and you may rest assured — they will see the true value.