Project Management in a Post-Conflict Environment


By Mark Taylor

Texas, USA


Project Management is a difficult process in the best of situations. In a post-conflict environment such as Iraq, there are additional concerns that need to be addressed by the project manager. For the purpose of this paper, a post-conflict environment is one in which main hostilities between armed forces has ceased. This type of environment is not typically peaceful and low intensity conflict remains. Often, the rule of law has not been established and the need for physical security remains high.

The PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) lists 12 specific knowledge areas that are required for every project manager. This paper addresses three knowledge areas that require additional scrutiny and planning when working in a post-conflict environment. These three areas are Project Human Resource Management, Project Communication Management and Project Risk Management.

Despite significant obstacles, several USG (U.S. Government) entities were able to develop Information Technology projects in Iraq. The paper will briefly cover a few of these projects. The author was assigned to the Embassy in 2009 and was able to interview several of these project teams.

Iraq in 2009-2010

Significant security gains had been achieved after the Sunni Awakening of 2005. However, violence continued in the form of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), kidnappings, bombings and indirect fire from rockets and mortars. Shia al Maliki was the prime minister but the government was sharply divided among the traditional fault lines of Shia, Sunni and Kurd. President Obama had been elected in 2008 partly on the promise of withdrawing forces from Iraq. As a result of the British and Australian withdrawals, General Odierno’s staff changed names from Multi-National Forces – Iraq (MNFI) to US Forces – Iraq (USFI) in 2010. The decline in violence and formation of the Iraq government permitted the reconstruction operations described in this paper.

Challenges to Project Management

IT (Information Technology) project management is challenging under ideal conditions. In a post-conflict environment, the risks are multiplied and the environmental dangers are significant. The PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) is generally regarded as the definitive guide to project management. The PMBOK lists 12 knowledge areas which are necessary for effective project management. While all of these areas are important, three deserve particular attention. The three areas discussed in this paper are Project Communication Management, Project Human Resource Management and Project Risk Management.


To read entire paper (click here)

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.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 6th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, Texas, USA in August 2012.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and UT Dallas.

About the Author

Mark Taylor


Mark Taylor is an Information Technology Project and Program Manager for the Garland Independent School District in Garland, Texas, USA. He has been with the district for eight years and has served in a variety of roles including Project Manager, Database Administrator, Business Analyst and Business Intelligence Developer. He was a Lieutenant Commander with the United States Navy Reserve for 14 years where he served in numerous organizations including major staffs and expeditionary warfare units. He has served directly in U.S. Navy, Army and Marine Corps units. He was recalled to active duty in 2009-2010 and served as an Action Officer (Project Manager) at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Mark specializes in IT Project Management and Business Intelligence. He takes special interest in building effective technical teams and is a strong advocate for promoting personal growth and has a deep understanding of emotional intelligence.  Email: [email protected]

Blog: http://midnightmustang.typepad.com/texas_technocrat/