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Cyndee Miller, senior editor, PM Network: July 2008 Archives

The Right Fit

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I finally had them right where I wanted them.

 After their big reveal last week at PMI's Research Conference in Warsaw, Poland, Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, sat down for an interview, and I could ask them anything about their Researching the Value of Project Management study. It was a wide-ranging discussion covering everything from selling skeptical executives on project management to the number of motorcycles purchased by researchers during the course of the study. (For the record, the answer to that last one would be three.)

I agree with all the fine points made by my fellow blogger and PMI.org editor Kelley Hunsberger in her earlier post.

But what struck me the most--and what I'm still thinking about nearly a week later--was how often talk around the study still comes down to the deceptively simple issue of fit. It seems so basic, but that doesn't make it any less important. For project management to truly show value, companies have to make it their own--attuned to the culture of their country and their organization.

Like the study itself, the authors were full of information and I'll have much, much more on this interview. And be sure to come back to PMI.org/value in August when parts of the interview will be available for viewing.

Here We Go

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It was finally show time. Nearly 400 attendees of the PMI Research Conference were joined by a slew of virtual visitors who logged on to watch as Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, delivered one of the most anticipated presentations at the event.

The two principal researchers of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management quickly got down to business. And then Dr. Thomas gave the statement everyone was waiting for.

"I can state unequivocally that project management delivers value," she said.

Across the board, companies of all types and from nearly every corner of the world see the value of project management. Sometimes the benefits were tangible; sometimes they were intangible. And most organizations seemed to be satisfied with that.

That was the big news for me, but we're just getting started. Dr. Thomas provided just a hint of the broad range of data available when she briefly discussed the case studies. The examples covered everything from a Canadian utility that adopted project management in 2000 to a Chinese construction company forced to implement the discipline in order to secure World Bank funding.

But--oh, come on, you knew there had to be a "but"--the missing element is ROI. It turns out most organizations don't track their investment. And that obviously makes it difficult to determine the return on investment.

"Your Work Matters"

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Project management can not only help companies succeed, it can change the world we live in, said PMI chair Philip Diab in his opening conference remarks.

Sometimes, though, project leaders get so caught up in their schedules and plans, they forget just how transforming project management can be.

It's not just about the bottom line. It's about building a sustainable future. Yes, project management can achieve results, but organizations must also look at the long-term impact.

"Corporate social responsibility" may be the buzzword, he said, but there must be "organizational social responsibility," too, he said.

And I wouldn't be much of a PM Network editor if I didn't put in a plug for our upcoming issue devoted to social responsibility. So: Be sure to check out the October issue for features covering everything from how to build a sustainable supply chain to a case study of how Intel brought wireless technology to a remote Vietnamese village.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

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Project management isn't just a "nice to have" anymore. It's crucial, said PMI president and CEO Gregory Balestrero in his opening conference remarks.

And one of the best ways to push the profession forward is through research. Declaring a "new scale of commitment" to research," Mr. Balestrero outlined 16 research studies in the pipeline--and that doesn't even include the much-buzzed-about Researching the Value of Project Management.

The study marks a huge leap in explaining just how organizations can use project management to deliver results--consistently. Mr. Balestrero joked that when people asked him about the ROI of project management, he would throw out a figure of US$11. The truth was that no one really knew. But what the researchers discovered was that companies weren't measuring investment in project management. So how could they measure success? They're just looking for better ways to run their business. And what the study does is outline just how project management can help them do precisely that.

Listen & Learn

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It's tough to miss just how excited Ed Andrews, Ph.D., is about the Researching the Value of Project Management study. As PMI's director, academic and education programs & services, Dr. Andrews has been patiently waiting while executives clamored for proof. And now PMI has it: more than 60 cases studies, nearly 450 interviews--many with people in the executive suite. And the study is not limited by geography, by industry or by company size.

They talked. The investigators listened--and learned. The initial results show not only that implementing project management drives business results, but that some companies are even using it as a selling point.

Of course, there is no silver bullet. Organizations do have to find the right fit.

For more, tune in after tomorrow's presentation when Dr. Andrews interviews principal investigators Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP.

Unexpected Value

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I have seen many towns destroyed, but nowhere have I been faced with such destruction.
--U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower

  Last night we headed to Warsaw's Old Town. As I looked around, it seems absolutely incredible it's the same city that was bombed to near oblivion during the war. The story goes the city was painstakingly recreated by a team relying on photographs and local records. And although they may not have called themselves project managers, they clearly relied on the discipline.

And that trend continues today. All around the world, companies and organizations rely on project management to achieve results even if they don't call it by its proper name. The August cover story of PM Network takes a look at five trailblazers bringing project management into new sectors--ranging from a cafe in Brazil to a church in the United States. In many cases, they may stumble on the profession. In others, someone might bring it in with them. And then they start seeing the payoff.

Even I'm starting to feel like a project manager. Like any project, our live feed of the Researching the Value of Project Management presentation relies on our team's ability to meet deadlines. And so far, so good. We've set up a studio of sorts for interviews, tested out the equipment and we have a rehearsal set for this afternoon. Reading all those PM Network features is definitely helping.

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