Welcome to the March 2018 PMWJ

From a Different Angle: Competitive Projects, Winning, Not Losing and… Welcome to another edition of the PM World Journal


By David Pells

Managing Editor

Addison, Texas, USA


Welcome to the March 2018 edition of the PM World Journal (PMWJ), the 68th uninterrupted monthly edition.  This edition contains 37 original articles, papers and other works by 40 different authors in 15 different countries.  News articles about projects and project management around the world are also included. Since the primary mission of this journal is to support the global sharing of knowledge, please share this month’s edition with others in your network, wherever in the world they may be.

For the past year I have used this space to discuss important trends or issues that I see as journal editor.  This month, as another political season gets underway in the United States and other countries (and as Democracies and Democratic institutions seem to be under attack in so many places), I have been thinking about the role of project management in politics.  Or more correctly, in political campaigns!  Aren’t political campaigns projects, with concrete end goals, schedules, budgets, stakeholders and many other characteristics of projects? I started thinking about the contribution that professional project management might make to the campaign of someone running for political office, at the local, state or national level.  I discussed it with my wife, how might I help our favorite candidate for US senate this year?

Then I realized that the opposition candidate’s political campaign might well be using their own expert project management resources, and how all candidates for political office either win or lose elections.  That led to thoughts about project management in sports and other competitive industries and situations, including in many businesses.  There is much written and discussed these days about project successes and failures; how do those discussions relate to projects in politics and sports where there are so many losers.  Are those projects failures?  It occurred to me that it’s not so straightforward and perhaps there are different ways to think about all of this.  So here goes.

Political Campaigns as Projects and Programs

At first glance, a political campaign looks like a classic project, with beginning and end, scope of work, schedule, budget, resources, risks, contracting and procurement requirements and many leadership, stakeholder and team building issues.  Classic project planning and management techniques would seem applicable, with agility also required in today’s fast paced environment.  On closer examination though, we can see some unusual and complicating factors.  For example, a majority of the project (campaign) team members will be temporary participants, with many external resources and volunteers.  In addition, the campaign management (project/program) team will need knowledge and experience that many project managers may not readily have – fund raising, legal and regulatory knowledge, leading/coordinating volunteers, experience with other political campaigns, political and economic knowledge, governance and policy knowledge, marketing and social networking experience, etc.  That said, it still looks like a project, at least for campaigns for local elections.

On political campaigns for statewide or national offices, things get more complex in a hurry. Larger campaigns take more of everything – more people, more money, more knowledge and experience, and usually much more time. A campaign for a state-wide election will more closely resemble a program, with multiple projects related to volunteers, ICT, marketing, events (both physical and on media), financing (events, campaigns, other), stakeholders (events, communications, analysis), research (issues, stakeholders, voting trends, opinion polls, opposition and competitive research).  Voter registration issues will be more important, along with campaign-related regulations, laws, policies or issues.

Campaigns for national office are major programs, with sub-programs, portfolios of projects and multiple project teams.  In the United States and most other countries, a national campaign requires ballot registration in every voting district or state, office and volunteer mobilization in every state (50-100 in the USA), massive fund-raising initiatives, multiple multi-media marketing projects, multiple research projects, information and knowledge about a wide range of issues.  And national campaigns take a long time, often over several years. If a candidate is proposing significant policy change, then the program will resemble an organizational change program and may require changes in the conditions or environment surrounding the campaign itself.  For example, laws and regulations may need to change independent of the campaign itself; public opinion might need to be influenced; impact on other factors may need to be considered, planned for or incorporated into the campaign.

While politicians and campaign managers could well benefit significantly from deeper project management knowledge, that is nowhere near enough…


To read entire paper, click here


About the Author

David L. Pells

Managing Editor, PMWJ
Managing Director, PMWL



David L. Pells
is Managing Editor of the PM World Journal (www.pmworldjournal.net) and Managing Director of the PM World Library (www.pmworldlibrary.net). David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 35 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, energy, defense, transit, technology and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to billions of dollars. He occasionally acts as project management advisor for U.S. national laboratories and international programs, and currently serves as an independent advisor for a major U.S. national nuclear security program.

David Pells has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, serving on the board of directors of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) twice.  He was founder and chair of the Global Project Management Forum (1995-2000), an annual meeting of leaders of PM associations from around the world. David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award, PMI’s highest honor, in 1999. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; Project Management Associates (PMA – India); and Russian Project Management Association.  Since 2010 he is an honorary member of the Project Management Association of Nepal.

Former managing editor of PM World Today, he is the creator, editor and publisher of the PM World Journal (since 2012).  David has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from Idaho State University in the USA.  He has published widely and spoken at conferences and events worldwide.  David lives near Dallas, Texas and can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by David Pells, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/david-l-pells/