The Implementation of Demonetization in India

Learnings & Suggestions


By Raju Rao, PMP, SCPM, OPM3 Certified Professional

Chennai, India



The last quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017 has seen the policy and implementation of demonetization in India. There have been different viewpoints and opinions on it from economists, the citizens and the business and political class.

Notwithstanding whether the policy was right or not or if it had benefits or pitfalls, many questioned the efficacy of its implementation.

– What processes did the government follow in its implementation?

– How were the challenges met considering the special nature of this project?

– Were standards in project management followed?

– Did the government have the requisite organisation structure for implementing such an initiative?

– Would implementation have been different if the strategy had been better planned?

This paper will study and analyse the project of ‘Demonetization’ by comparing with PMI standards, the organisation structure in the government and the practices in the bureaucracy. Lessons learned from an analysis of the demonetization effort and its implementation would help in managing similar initiatives and would serve as a case study in project management

Keywords: Demonetization, Implementation, program management.


There have been many voices on the issue of recent decision and implementation of Demonetization in India. Some of the well-known economists in the world have opposed it and have stated that it will not serve its intended purpose. Others, including some economists, industrialists and laypersons have shown support and have opined that despite the hardship it is for the greater good.

Many who have lauded the demonetization policy have been critical with its implementation. It is recognized that strategy formulation is outside the purview of project managers as their role is to implement the strategy in the best way and ensure results are achieved. An analogy would be when a country decides to defend its borders or go to war. The decision to do so is taken by the government which is political whereas the implementation is done by the armed forces who carry it out irrespective of whether the decision is deemed correct or not . In a similar vein, this paper will not deal with the question whether demonetization has been beneficial or not but will focus on evaluating the implementation of the demonetization initiative and whether it could have been in a beneficial way with the help of project management standards and practice.

Is it a project / program?

PMBOK 5th edition defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, result or service”.

Program Management Standard 3rd edition defines a program as “a group of related projects, sub projects and related program activities which are managed in a coordinated way whose benefits are not available from managing them individually”.

The Demonetization initiative can be considered a large program which consists of sub programs at the state, union territory or zone level with projects with for various Banks responsible for receiving and disbursing currency notes. There would also be projects for printing of notes at the Mints and sub-programs/projects for calibration of ATMs. In addition, we have a large sub program for advocacy and promotion of non-cash transactions.

Objectives, Benefits & Effects

Program Objectives

Three Objectives were mentioned on Nov 8,2016 when the demonetization was announced.(2)

  • Fighting the menace of black money. This is the primary emphasis of the program.
  • Dealing with counterfeit currency of these high denomination currency notes.
  • Help counter the terrorist activities being funded by these currency notes.

As the demonetization process continued, the goal became less about fighting corruption and more about transitioning India to a “cashless” economy which was further re-stated as a “less-cash” strategy.


To read entire paper, click here


About the Author

Raju Rao, PMP

Chennai, India

Raju Rao
, PMP, SCPM, OPM3 Cert Professional is Founder and Principal consultant – Xtraplus Solutions, a PM consulting and training company based in Chennai, India. Mr Rao has a B.Tech degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Madras, India; an Advanced PM certificate from Stanford University; and a certificate from IIM Calcutta. He has about 40 years’ experience in engineering, process and project management and has been an active member of PMI for several years. He held leadership positions in both the 1st and 2nd edition projects of OPM3 and has been involved in development of several PMI standards and awards.

Mr Rao has been a visiting and adjunct faculty for engineering and business schools in India. He has presented numerous papers in global congresses and is the coauthor of two books – Project Management Circa 2025 published by PMI and Organizational Project Management published by Management Concepts, USA. Raju has been a President of South India section of AACE International and is the founder of the Indian Project Management Forum.

Raju Rao lives in Chennai, India and can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by Raju Rao, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/raju-rao/