Whose success is it anyway? Rethinking the role of suppliers in projects


Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire

United Kingdom


The discourse on success in projects is becoming increasingly more diverse and far reaching. Benefits take time to realise, accumulate and transform into value, sustainability is assessed over the long term horizon, business value takes time to accrue, and the behaviour of system users and visitors can only be ascertained over an extended period.

Different groups of stakeholders raise different concerns and preferences and depend on different value sets and expectations. Over time any and all of the above are likely to shift and change, making for increasingly complex dynamics.

It is little wonder that the profession grapples with the idea of success in projects and programmes.

Everyone is a project manager now

Another interesting shift that is often acknowledged is the proliferation of project management. More professions and disciplines appear to have discovered project management as a way of progressing from plan to execution. The result is that an increasing number of professionals in many disciplines have been labelled project managers.

The idea of accidental project managers has been discussed in many forums. In reality it often translates into having a multitude of practitioners utilising the same label. Where different companies collaborate on projects, it is becoming increasingly common to see project managers operating on each side. With multiple project managers, it becomes legitimate to ask whose project is being managed, and question if success would look the same from each perspective. Indeed, if each project manager is defining benefits and targets, whose benefits should be pursued?

The various bodies of knowledge offer very little guidance in this area. Recent papers and articles have little to add around this topic.


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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK. Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM. Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ. Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.


About the Author


pmwj34-May2015-Dalcher-PHOTODarren Dalcher, PhD

Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire, UK


Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK. He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London. Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement.

He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management. Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond. He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.

Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.