Projects & Project Management in Germany



By Reinhard Wagner

International Correspondent for PM World Journal 

Munich, Germany

The German Project Management Association (GPM) together with the German Standardization Organization (DIN) invited three groups of ISO / TC 258 Project, Programme and Portfolio Management to Berlin for a workshop.

On Sunday, March 10, the TC 258 ad-hoc group on programme management met in Berlin elaborating on possibilities to start a new standardization project. Since ISO published the ISO 21500 “Guidance on project management” last fall and Working Group 1 has started the development of a portfolio management standard, a standard on programme management is the missing link between the two.

What differentiates a programme from projects and from portfolios? Programmes appear often in literature but there is a big variety of definitions out there in the world. As one example, the German DIN 69909-1 defines a programme as “a quantity of projects that are linked to one another, pursue a shared superordinate goal and end at the latest with reaching of the goal.” It is explicitly noted in the standard that individual projects of a program can be delimited from one another and can also be carried out independently. When a single project or several of the projects would be removed, the superordinate program goals are not generally placed in question. This is different in projects. If you removed one constituent (work package or sub-project) the overall goal would not be achieved. Programmes are rather temporary, a portfolio is permanent. Whilst projects are used to achieve deliverables or outputs, programmes are intended to achieve outcomes and to realize mid- or long-term benefits. A portfolio is aligning the constituent projects and programmes with the organisational strategy.

The ad-hoc group recommends the formation of a Study Group (SG) within ISO/TC 258 to elaborate more on terms and definitions, concepts, processes and related issues in the field of programme management before developing an International Standard.

Monday through Thursday Working Group (WG) 1 “Project and Programme Portfolio Management” and Study Group (SG) 2 “Governance of projects, programmes and portfolios” met in a fancy event location, at The New Malthouse in Berlin.

This is where you can experience Berlin’s industrial history! The New Malthouse isn’t far from Berlin Alexanderplatz. A venue with event spaces on the ground floor and the fifth floor of a former brewery, the latter of which boasts a view of the Television Tower. The New Malthouse features a combination of historical brick architecture and state-of-the-art equipment. Highlights of this listed historical building are the two domed halls.  They were originally used to dry malt and are now used to house congresses, seminars and other events. More than sixty participants from all over the world attended the two workshop sessions in Berlin (see picture 1).


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About the Author 

Reinhard Wagnerflag-germanyReinhard Wagner

International Correspondent – Germany

Based near Munich

Reinhard Wagner is an International Correspondent for PM World Journal in Germany. He is also CEO of Shift Consulting AG, a service provider specialized in the field of project management. He studied Electrical Engineering and Business Administration in Germany and the USA and looks back to more than 27 years of project related work and leadership experience. His career started in the German Air Force, where he served as Air Surveillance Officer in NATO Air Defense performing projects like the establishment of a Systems Operations Center. 1995 he entered the Automotive Industry and managed several major design projects and programmes, developed specific methodology for Automotive Engineering activities and published the first book on Project Management in Automotive Industry. In 2002 he founded a Special Interest Group for Automotive Project Management within GPM German Project Management Association and leads these activities since then. In 2006 he entered the Executive Board of GPM being responsible for all R&E activities as well as the International affairs. Today he is Chairman of the Executive Board. As Chairman of the respective DIN committee for the development of PM standards he is responsible for several standardization projects in Germany. From 2007 until 2012 he acted as working group Convenor in ISO for the development of ISO 21500 Guidance on Project Management. Within GPM and IPMA, he developed tools for the assessment and certification of organisations (e.g. GPM3 and IPMA Delta) and acts as Lead Assessor for PM-ZERT and IPMA in this field. Reinhard Wagner teaches project management at different Universities in Germany. He has published more than 100 books and articles, speaks to national and international audiences and is elected as IPMA Vice President for R&D / Awards. Reinhard is living close to Munich, Bavaria and can be contacted via [email protected].