Being Proactive or Reactive

What Works?



By Dr. Vanita Bhoola

S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research

Mumbai, India


In a constantly changing environment, project-oriented organizations scuffle to achieve their Critical Success Factors (CSF) – the key result areas to be achieved before the closure of each phase of the project life cycle (Węgrzyn, 2016). T. Venkatesh, the chief operating officer of infrastructure development in a multinational project-based organization states, “Effective project management that can prevent cost and time overruns without compromising on quality and risk management standards, is sporadic. It is incongruous that despite so much of advancement in research and discussions in corporate and academia, efficient management of projects still remains a fallacy,” The reality is not very different than the way Venkatesh opines. This article discusses certain simple, yet effective and proactive mechanisms that project teams can adapt to meet the CSF.

Aligning projects to CSFs is often intimidating, when uncertainties grow exponentially, with increased complexities (Saleh and Watson, 2017). In order to overcome these stumbling blocks, CSFs have been a topic of discussion in board rooms and project status review meets. Interesting, as CSFs can offer high value propositions, they can be achieved even when projects do not meet timelines or budget constraints (Park, 2009). Such value propositions can be both at organizational and society levels, e.g., infrastructure and social amenity projects. If completion of a project is strategic to the overall long term objectives of the organization, limited schedule and budget overruns can be permissible (Swain, Cao and Gardner, 2018). Misalignment of a project’s CSFs with the overall organizational goals could lead to catastrophic results, especially, with no social contribution.

Karan Bansal, a Project Leader in an Indian IT company asserts, “Misalignment of social or organizational goals can destroy the entire thrill of working in a project – project leaders work on multiple deadlines. Focus gets diverted or diluted, when some projects have less organizational support compared to others. Inefficient allocation of team members and resource constraints can also add to the desolation in such cases. Generally speaking, a project with high social relevance catches the cynosure of organization’s strategic goals.” Leaders managing projects can create a culture that will derive the values of the project. Simple, yet effective measures can help meet these CSF of societal values, future values, financial values and the project constraints (Jerono and Kimutai, 2018). Creating a culture to certain practices, for example, risk identification from project initiation stage – throughout project life cycle and meticulously revisiting it probability of occurrence, including likelihood of recurrence and estimating the consequences thereby, can be part of the overall project management culture. Often stakeholders’ (both internal and external) interests and association with risks in projects and their power to influence outcomes have significant bearings on the overall risk.

While it is understandable how internal stakeholders can be responsible for project delays due to their direct involvement, the construction projects of Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Mumbai Metro Rail in India or the Big Dig, Boston tunnel project, or the Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain – are examples how external stakeholders can disrupt projects leading to massive cost and time overruns (Nguyen, Chileshe and Rameezdeen, 2018). Environmentalists approached courts over threats of flooding of Mithi river and Mangrove damage – resulting is a delay of five years. Issues like unavailability of land, records of underground utilities, safety certifications, delay in project financing from Asian Development Bank (ADB), and so on further caused interruptions.

Being proactive

Some of the causes of delays can be averted by being more proactive, sensitive and mindful about immediate environment and changing circumstances (Guofeng, Lingyun and Nan, 2015). Hence, dynamic risk assessment, management and mitigation keeping all stakeholders in mind can get to the roots of being proactive and taking corrective measures (Sols, 2018). Periodic review meetings that discuss: (a) gaps and glitches in executing current plans, (b) long-term strategic roadmap keeping in mind the changing business landscape, (c) short-term future plans, in line with the strategic roadmap, and (d) execution process of current plans and anticipated hiccups.


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How to cite this paper: Bhoola, V. (2018). Being Proactive or Reactive: What Works?, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue X – October.  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/pmwj75-Oct2018-Bhoola-being-proactive-or-reactive-what-works.pdf


About the Author

Dr. Vanita Bhoola

Mumbai, India




Dr. Vanita Bhoola is Associate Professor, Head of the Centre for Project Management (CPM), and Principal Coordinator for the Management Development Programme (MDP) at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) in Mumbai, India.

With a Doctorate in Project Risk Management and over 20 years of experience in Project Governance, Project Management, and Decision Support Systems, Dr. Bhoola works as a Professor at SPJIMR. Apart from teaching across programs at SPJIMR, she mentors students and publishes in leading international journals; she offers tailored courses across different programs at the Institute and customised management development programs (MDP). Her expertise in the area of Project Management is based on prior research about company, sector and the immediate business environment that influences the business.  She has published dozens of articles, research papers and case studies on project management. Her current research deals with team dynamics in project environment with emphasis on value creation, management, and governance of projects. In addition to this, she has given talks in various forums and seminars to champions of project management. She is also involved in voluntarily teaching in schools and colleges as Train the Trainer to bring awareness of the current trends of Project management in the VUCA world.

She currently heads the Center for Project Management & Principal coordinator at SPJIMR. The Center offers PMP® Training and Certification in Advanced Project Management. Dr. Bhoola has handled training & development projects and consultancy assignments with corporate clients, such as, CGI Group Inc. (India), Pfizer India, Siemens India, ICICI Securities, Deutsche Bank, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Tata Housing Development Company, Brigade Group, KEC International, Quality Kiosks, Mahindra & Mahindra, Verchuska Infotech and Godrej Infotech and many more. She is responsible for the short-term Executive education programs at the institute, from conversion to implantation and closure.


  • International Project Management (being conducted for IMBA, Nyenrode)
  • Project Management for Infrastructure / Construction / IT / Pharma / Services
  • Project Governance
  • Decision Modeling and Information using Spreadsheet
  • Project Planning and Monitoring using Tools and Techniques

Dr. Bhoola can be contacted at [email protected]