Why project management should be an ecosystem and not just a function


By Mike Saville,

Programme Management, Project Management and PRINCE2® Consultant

ILX Group, UK


There are several Best Practice courses available to help project managers to improve their skills and competencies. But how do you install those practices within organisations to create a holistic environment that supports ongoing improvements in performance? This article explores these issues and provides some tips on creating a culture that goes beyond the classroom, and how to create a functional project management ecosystem.

Project management, like any ecosystem, is at the mercy of a number of different elements and successful projects must be resilient. The fact is that project management ecosystems often need an intelligent designer sitting behind the projects to make sure they come to fruition. Organisations that have more success in delivering projects are those that react to and manage the changes in their project ecosystem, taking into account the relative priorities and dependencies of their entire portfolio.

It is not hard to see why enthusiastic graduates of project management training programmes struggle to transfer their newly gained knowledge into the workplace. In the classroom there is a clear assumption that an individual will be gaining worthwhile project management skills and techniques. Yet their organisation may have different practices and unless there is clear recognition that project management is an organisational discipline, investment in project management training will not see the hoped-for return.

In a classroom situation you can teach skills – emotional intelligence for example, and there’s immediate benefit from practising the techniques back at the office. Project management is different – it is a vector of many organisational functions and its success is dependent upon those as well as the skills of individual practitioners.

For instance, a HR department might have a role in defining what the key characteristics of an effective project manager might be. The performance management team might be another function determining what a successful project is. Resource planning might contribute – organisations often encounter issues in getting business units to release resource into projects. Many projects are delivered by multi-agency partnerships and this introduces further priorities and constraints. All these diverse factors contribute to cultivating a successful project management ecosystem – it is not as simple as training your project managers well.


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About the Author 

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Mike Saville is Programme and Project Management Consultant and PRINCE2 consultant with the ILX Group. He works with organisations in Europe, the Middle East and the US implementing P3M frameworks and developing capacity in Portfolio, programme and project management.

For more information visit http://www.ilxgroup.com