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SERIES ARTICLE

Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire 

UK
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Introduction to the February PMWJ Article by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez 

One of the key success factors for project management revolves around the availability of support and buy-in from senior management. Reports on project success and failure typically emphasise executive support as a distinguishing and necessary ingredient.

Embedding major improvement initiatives, such as maturity models and process improvement schemes, into an organisation also depends on harnessing support at a strategic level which is often identified as a critical pre-requisite to the success of such initiatives. Indeed, most attempts to introduce and embed change at an organisational level would depend on the availability of leaders willing to engage, defend, support and champion the initiatives to ensure they survive and thrive.

The discipline is increasingly aware of the need to ‘sell’ project management to corporate executives. In a landmark study published in 2002, Professor Janice Thomas and her colleagues asked why it was so difficult to convince senior executives of the importance of project management. Their PMI study confirms that many project managers pitch the profession too low by focusing on the tactical importance of projects. Senior executives however, are looking for a more strategic focus, concerned with the long-term delivery of value. The study notes that successful sellers emphasise the alignment of project management with corporate strategy and goals and distinct value statements. Ultimately senior executives want to understand the benefits that project management can offer in their particular context.

A number of articles in the series, including the most recent installment, hinted that the theory of project management might be flawed, suggesting alternative ways of looking at how to deliver projects. It might be that the discipline is partly at fault for failing to transmit the correct message. Describing a project as a temporary endeavour with a start and end points, might well be doing the discipline a disservice, by ignoring the need to focus on benefits, the alignment with corporate objectives, and the strategic and organisational context. Presenting projects as a temporary group activity or as the allocation of resources also misses the wider purpose and goal, and more crucially ignores the link to upper level values, priorities and concerns that are likely to be of interest to senior executives. 

More…

To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ by Gower author Dr Lynda Bourne on the subject of “Communicating Upwards with Effect.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement. 

About the Author 

Darren Dalcher, PhDflag-ukDarren Dalcher, PhD 

Author, Series Editor 

Director, National Centre for Project Management

University of Hertfordshire

UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at [email protected].