Smart Contracts for Project Managers

Boom or Bust?



By Mégane Gouin

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France



Nowadays, projects operate in a growing global, complex, networked and regulated scope. Thus, there is an increasing importance for synchronization, communication, and control. Contracts need to fit in this changing environment. Contracts can play a meaningful role in the project’s success.  Smart contacts hold tremendous potential in improving project management. The fundamental aim of this research is to evaluate how and to extend smart contracts can affect project management. The paper ran a literature review on recent research to assess the main challenges with traditional contracts. Then, the paper established the awaited impact of smart contracts on several aspects of the project manager’s activity. Finally, the paper analyzed how each effect and action of smart contracts can contribute to project management performances. The obtained results have shown that smart contracts could literally improve project management in many ways such as the automation of transactions, the monitoring, and management of data.

Keywords: Smart contract, Contractors, Contracts automation, Blockchain in project management, Distributed workflow, Contractual practices.


‘’Pacta sunt servanda[1]’’, early rules of trades and barter have existed since ancient times. Modern laws of contracts are traceable from the industrial revolution (1750 onwards). From decades to decades, as society has advanced and technology has evolved, both the aspect and the role of contracts changed. Today, the Internet is just emerging and traditional contracts start to show their limitations.

Figure 1: Fishbone diagram (By author)

Traditional contracts, as an old and complex process, is facing increasing issues, as shown in figure 1. For project managers, these problems result in delivered past deadlines, over budget and/or which end in lengthy legal battles over contractual disputes. Meanwhile, an emerging type of contract is taking advantage of technology improvement, and starts to be in the heart of today’s business landscape.

‘’Some people say that 2017 is the year of the pilot for blockchain technology’’[2]. That means that anytime in the near future will be the year of production. Blockchain is starting to change the way we do business, and will soon change the way we manage projects. Project management tools start with Blockchain using features known as smart contracts. In 1994, Nick Szabo published an article in which he outlined the concept of Smart Contracts[3]. Today, dozens of year later, as technology has caught up, smart contracts came back and served as the subject of different experimentations. At first, Szabo defined smart contracts as machine-readable transaction protocols which create a contract with pre-determined terms. Within a newer definition, a smart contract is ‘’a set of promises, specified in digital form, including protocols within which parties perform on these promises’’[4]. Simply, a smart contract is a self-executing contract with the term of agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. Since a smart contract removes reliance on a third party, when establishing business relations, the parties making an agreement can transact directly with each other. Smart contracts are described as the most significant transformation of commerce since the Internet. They are even causing experts to rethink how legal documents are written.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

How to cite this paper: Gouin, M. (2018). Smart Contracts for Project Managers – Boom or Bust? PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue XII (December).  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pmwj77-Dec2018-Gouin-smart-contracts-for-project-managers.pdf

About the Author

Mégane Gouin

Paris, France



Mégane Gouin
is a 21 year old French student, currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Project and Programme Management and Business Development at Skema Business School.

Since her youngest age, she has a strong entrepreneur mindset and a powerful passion about digital.   After gaining significant experience from different positions in different industries, she is now managing her own online media cofounded company, which specializes in live broadcasting horseball competitions and providing a Video On Demand Platform. As a strategic director, she is mainly responsible for implementing web projects, by managing a team of 5 people. With a huge competitive and team spirit, after being French Champion, she is playing her sport, horseball, at a professional level. Her numerous international experiences (internships, exchange semester) gave her the opportunity to develop her adaptability and to become a confident problem solver. Being open-minded and world oriented increased her innovative skills. Highly interested in project management and his main upcoming challenges, she is getting certified by Prince2, AgilePM, CAPM.

You can contact her at: [email protected] or,  https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganegouin/


[1] ‘’Agreements must be kept’’ in Latin.

[2] Merriam Webster, 2011: ‘’A digital database, containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.’’

[3] Nick Szabo, American cryptographer. The original text ‘’Smart Contracts’’ is available at: http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/rob/Courses/InformationInSpeech/CDROM/Literature/LOTwinterschool2006/szabo.best.vwh.net/smart.contracts.html

[4] Szabo, 1996