Project Management as a Core Competency

SECOND EDITION                                                            

By Robert Youker  

Maryland, USA

For many organizations the capacity to effectively and efficiently manage projects from conception to completion should be considered a core competency.  This means the entire project life cycle not just the implementation phase. Thus project management includes selecting the right projects as well as good implementation.  Some people call this Strategic Project Management or just Strategic Management.

First we must distinguish between organizations whose whole business is time based contracts, which means all of their business is projects and regular companies where projects are internal like developing new products.  Project Management is certainly a core competency for a construction company where all of their business is projects.

Professor Sebastian Green, Dean of the University College, Cork, Ireland in an interview in the Spring 2005 IPMA Newsletter, Project Management Practice defined Strategic Project Management as completing “projects which are of critical importance and enable the organization to have a competitive advantage”. There are three attributes to a core competence: it adds value to customers, it is not easily imitated and it opens up new possibilities in the future.

Strategic PM includes the selection of the right projects as well as effective implementation.  Thus we have a continuum of Strategic Objectives and Plan – Portfolio Management – Project Management – Organizations PM Capability.  This takes an organization from Goals to Results. Doing this well can be a core competency.  He says, “Project Management should be promoted to General Managers as the ability to manage across the functions, blending technique procedures with judgment”.

Another strategic management approach to Core Competencies is the Balanced Scorecard system developed by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton in the early 1990s.  The balanced scorecard goes beyond financial measures of performance and includes progress towards long term capabilities and customer relationships.  Organizations today “must create future value through investment in customers, employees, processes, technology and innovation”.


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Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  This paper was originally presented at ESC Lille in Lille, France in August 2005, revised in 2006.  It is republished here with author’s permission.

About the Author 

flag-usarobert-youker-bioBob Youker

Maryland, USA 

Robert “Bob” Youker is a prolific writer, speaker, and spokesperson for PM practice around the World. A co-founder of both Project Management Institute, and asapm, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management, he is a long-time contributor to the practice of project management. In addition to the above founding feats, he was a Director of IPMA from 1977 through 1988, taking the seat formerly occupied by Russ Archibald.  In addition to his years of service to PMI, he participated and presented in many IPMA Conferences from 1974 through the early 2000s. He presented keynotes at several of them, and organized panels and workshops in others. He introduced IPMA into a dozen government agencies and businesses all over the World, and in many cases, connected those agencies and businesses with IPMA leaders.

Bob introduced and popularized innovations to the practice of project management, from his work in Xerox in the 1960s, to his leadership in the first manual project management planning and tracking tools (Planalog President, 1968-1974). He published an early book on the Critical Path Method, Analysis Bar Charting, by John Mulvaney. As of today, that book has sold more than 30,000 copies.

In his work for World Bank, Bob developed training that has benefited thousands of project and program managers, and government officials, mostly in developing countries. He performed that training in over a dozen developing countries around the World over a 30 year period, and continues today, to help developing and developed nations. He was the author and developer of the World Bank’s CD-ROM based project management training kit titled “Managing the Implementation of Development Projects”, still available and widely used today.

In the 1970s, to increase Executive visibility for the fledgling practice of project management, Bob engineered the publishing of a Harvard Business Review collection of articles on the subject. He suggested the collection, but was told there were not enough articles for a special collection. He bought copies of the articles, submitted them, and the Harvard Business Review published one of their most popular reprint series, with a number of classic articles on project management.

Bob Youker has contributed massively to the profession or practice of project management, to asapm, IPMA, PMI and society.  He continues to teach several two-week project management courses each year for participants from developing countries at the International Law Institute in Georgetown, Washington, DC, USA.  Bob can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by Bob Youker, visit http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/robert-bob-youker/