Reflection on How to Achieve Global Project Success


By Alexander Matthey

Abu Dhabi, UAE


Benjamin Disraeli stated: “The secret of success in life is for man to be ready for his time when it comes.” I found this to be true, including in Project Management.

The only hiccup in projects is that there are too many moments to act. So to succeed, a Project or a Programme Manager needs a lot of readiness, knowledge and experience, yet she/he needs to understand the process of how the success is be declared. One needs to understand the judgment itself, which declares success. Or the judgment is done by a group of persons, based on their criteria, which may be both subjective or objectives, and some measurement, which are always objectives.

For many years up to roughly the 1990s project success was nearly exclusively determined on the latter, on the measurements. Based on the classic Scope/Quality, Time and Cost triangle. This necessitated technical skills of gathering and structuring requirements, determining the level of acceptability of the final product from a quality perspective, scheduling and budgeting. Those are ”hard” core elements, more or less complex, certainly so in the case of Engineering Project management, and somehow more ”fluffy” in Information System projects. Mastering those hard-core skills was a must to secure success. Colleges, universities, specialised seminars, vocational trainings delivered the knowledge. Hands on experience, making trade-offs, prioritising completed the picture. Success was essentially declared if product of the project, the ”what”, was corresponding to preset values.

From the mid 90-ies facilitative functions completed the picture in judging projects successful. Communication, Procurement, HR matter and Risk started to matter more. Did not replace the core elements, but were added to. So the PMBOK® obtained it’s ”Nobility”, yet Project Managers got their life more complex. Those new functions concerned the ”how”. So success started to include the judgment of the ”how” as well. Why? Because of the tight link and close integration between any of the core elements and the facilitative ones. Essentially those facilitative functions to be exercised well one need to have rather extensive experience, based on deep interest and some training.


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About the Author

flag-uaeflag-switzerlandalexander-mattheyAlexander Matthey

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Alexander Matthey is an accomplished and visionary senior Project, Programme and Programme Management Office professional with extensive experience and varied expertise across Europe, Australia and the MENA area. Confident and diligent with in-depth understanding of a range of detailed business principles and practices, he offers strategic and operationally sound solutions.

He held the pivotal role of Vice President Program Management Office at the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), which enabled the organization to delivered spot on time at 7:00 am on the 1st Sept 2012 and AED 1.6 billion under budget one of the world’s biggest semi-automated ports with an adjacent industrial zone two thirds of the size of Singapore. He led the execution of the top priority cross-functional corporate programs and projects at ADPC.

Previously Alexander designed and taught Project Management Fundamental and PMI / PMP certification courses in Europe, Northern Africa and Asia. Alexander was for years an external lecturer in Program and Project Management at the University of Geneva for MBA students in Management of Information Systems and at the Skema Business School Lille, France. As of 2009 he coached over 35% of all Swiss PMPs. He set-up at Orange Communications Switzerland’s a Project Management Office from scratch and established PM as one of the recognised corporate management practices.

As a volunteer leader he was the founding member of the PMI Switzerland Chapter and acted in numerous VP roles for 7 years. He mentored PMI Chapter Presidents in Northern and Western Europe for 2 years. Recently he was elected Vice President of the Swiss Business Council Abu Dhabi to promote business, social exchanges and mutual interest between the UAE and Switzerland.

Alexander holds a Masters Degree in Computer Electronics and Software Engineering (MSc) and also has a Master in Business Information Systems (MBIS). He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and holder of Green Belt Sig Sigma.  He can be contacted at [email protected].