Performance Measurement
December 1, 2014

The Third Way – A Commitment to Effective Project Management

The taxpayers are wary. Politicians worry about retaining their jobs. Everyone approaches the situation with trepidation.

What situation? The dilemma often faced by government executives who want to execute a new strategic initiative. Seeking more revenue for the initiative could mean raising taxes, something highly unpopular with politicians and taxpayers. Going forward with the current budget could mean reducing existing services, equally disliked by voters and elected officials.

There is a third possibility, and it can make providing better service at a lower cost a reality: instituting effective project management.

Project management has been employed at least since the construction of the pyramids in Egypt. It became a major factor in government endeavors in the 1950s, when acquisition managers for major defence projects started systematizing their approach as a means to gain efficiencies. Some tools, such as the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) for analyzing tasks, began being used in government projects and spread into the private sector.

In 1969, five individuals convinced of the need for practitioners in this new discipline to learn, network and propose ideas, founded the Project Management Institute. As the project management profession grew, so did PMI. Presently, PMI serves 700,000 members and credential holders around the world, including 38,992 members and 42,186 credential holders in Canada.

Along the way, PMI and its volunteers created global standards such as A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide); chartered hundreds of chapters in more than 80 countries (there are 18 chapters in Canada of which two of the five largest chapters in the world are the PMI Southern Ontario Chapter and the PMI Montreal chapter, the second and fourth largest chapters in the world); accredited more than 90 college-level project management programs, including four at University of Quebec at Montreal; and certified hundreds of thousands of practitioners. The Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is one of the most popular credentials in the IT field, and more and more employers require it for new hires.

PMI’s goal is to make project management indispensable for business results. There are a number of examples from the public sector that demonstrate how this goal is becoming a reality. The United Kingdom, for example, established the Major Projects Leadership Academy through the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Leaders in the UK believe that tens of billions of pounds can be cut from its £414 billion budget for major projects—if the government can adopt “best in class” project management practices.

Here in Canada, the Office of the Comptroller General has identified three PMI standards as reference documents for the Guide to Using the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment Tool. The Treasury Board Secretariat has issued this tool to support compliance requirements for all national programs. Furthermore, Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) has just implemented its own Project Management Competency Development Framework that will serve to ensure the best qualified project managers are involved in driving efficiency and business success to DND’s suite of projects and programs. In addition, the Ontario Public Service’s Centre for Excellence in Project Management has created a Center of Excellence to implement project management.

PMI Pulse of the Profession research puts a dollar value on failed projects. Our 2013 global study found that organizations waste $135 million for every $1 billion invested in a failed project. That money is unrecoverable.

That same study showed that organizations completing 80 percent of their projects on time, on budget, and meeting goals waste 14 times less money than low performers.

There is great value in becoming a high performer in project management and providing better service at a lower cost. PMI has the knowledge, thought leadership, and resources to help you manage your projects more effectively. In the coming months, learn more in Canadian Government Executive as PMI shares its expertise on how sound project, program and portfolio management is the key to executing strategic initiatives.

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