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Kelley Hunsberger, editor, PMI.org: July 2008 Archives

The Benefit of the Intangible

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I have interviewed countless project managers, program managers, team members and executives for PM Network, PMP Passport and other PMI publications and there was often a common theme: Good project management practices equal a single vocabulary, increased transparency, and better teamwork across cultures and time zones. So when the preliminary results of Researching the Value of Project Management were presented a couple of weeks ago at PMI's Research Conference was it really any surprise the sources interviewed said basically the exact same thing? No.

Just because these benefits are often described as "intangible," it doesn't mean they are any less important than "tangible" benefits. In fact, these intangibles are often what make the tangibles--such as on budget and on schedule--possible.

What was surprising, however, was that many companies in the study--probably even ones that have been investing in project management for long periods of time--don't track their ROI. Why not? It's not as if this is some small investment or time commitment. If an organization was investing in the latest piece of technology that promised to save money or reduce the time spent working on a single task wouldn't they track that? Wouldn't they want to know they invested wisely?

The Stars Speak ...

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Last week, PM Network editor and fellow Voices of Project Management contributor Cyndee Miller interviewed Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, principal investigators for PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management study. I had the opportunity to sit in on that interview and there were a few points I wanted to share:

1. Project management does actually have value and the study proves it. Mark and Janice reiterated this point several times during each of their interviews. But Mark was quick to point out, "there is not one thing that is project management." Instead, he said it was all about how organizations "implement project management in their terms."

2. The study wouldn't have been possible without each and every team member--and there were nearly 50 of them. The team worked across almost every time zone--with researchers in China, Russia, North America, Latin America and around the globe. Still, Janice attributed "a strong team from the beginning that was committed to staying with the project through the end," as a key success factor.

3. These researchers have become the humble--and sometimes reluctant--stars of the PMI Research Conference. For example, Mark said during his interview that it took him nearly 40 minutes to get to the restroom after the awards ceremony because there were so many people stopping him to discuss the study.

4. The research doesn't end here. In fact, it seems to just be beginning. "This study generated an amazing database to further research," Janice said.

From the Future

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Project management's next generation has come out in full force to help make PMI's Research Conference a success. Working with the PMI Poland Chapter and PMI Region 8 Component Mentor Zbigniew J. Tracezyk, PMP, student volunteers from the Warsaw School of Economics Student Association for Project Management have been assisting with everything from manning the information booth to directing conference-goers into different sessions.

After talking to a few of the students, I discovered many of them hope their volunteer work will help with their professional development. For instance, Iga Kuozynska is a member of the Student Association for Project Management, but one day she plans on becoming a PMI member. "I am so excited about project management," she told me. "I wanted to see how it really works and what it really means."

Then there was Aleksandra Dworakowska, a board member of the student association, who will be hosting a Project Management Day with her fellow board members next April. She says the event typically draws nearly 200 students.

Conference Scenes, Part 2

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On Monday, Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, presented the findings of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management study, while conference-goers attended their first sessions and PMI recognized contributions to the research community ...


The Post-Show

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Following the live broadcast of PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management study, principal investigators Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, gave their first interview to Ed Andrews, PMI's director, academic and education programs & services. In the interview, the researchers told Dr. Andrews this study provided "clear, compelling evidence of value" that project management gives to organizations.

They also emphasized the importance of the story, with Dr. Thomas saying, "This study was fundamentally necessary because in project management research and practice for the last 20 years we've had a number of small studies, and we have had a great deal of arm-chaired theorizing based on personal experiences or some small examples. But what we needed was a baseline study that looked not at what we thought project management should be in organizations, but what it is in organizations and how organizations use it to create value."

If you missed any part of the presentation, or would like to see it for the first time, you can view the on demand version on this site.

Conference Scenes

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Attendees gather at the PMI Research Conference 2008 ...




Behind the Scenes

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To get ready for tomorrow, Gregory Balestrero, PMI president & CEO, and Philip Diab, chair of the PMI Board of Directors, sat down to tape opening messages to air before the live presentation of Researching the Value of Project Management--in full makeup and all. They both seemed very excited about the findings ... but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear all the details.

Breaking News

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I've just learned that following the live presentation of Researching the Value of Project Management there will be live interviews with principal investigators Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP. Everyone will want to stay tuned for that ...

Lights, Camera, Action ...

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crew_saturday.jpgAfter a brief panic over lost luggage, the crew for Monday's Researching the Value of Project Managment live presentation has arrived in Warsaw--with five cases of cameras, lights, audio equipment, power converters, cables and audio mixers. Today we're setting up a suite for interviews and scouting a few locations. We're ready to roll. 

Live from Warsaw: PMI Research Conference

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(9:50 p.m. Warsaw time (GMT +2))   The PMI team is in Warsaw, Poland excitedly preparing for 14 July's investigator presentation of the preliminary results of the Researching the Value of Project Management study. This highly anticipated study will definitively prove that good project management methods are associated with greater innovation, reliable and repeatable performance and increased stakeholder and customer satisfaction!

Check back for continuing coverage of the PMI Research Conference and Value of Project Management study. And don't forget to tune in on Monday, 14 July at 10:45 a.m. Warsaw time (GMT +2) for live coverage of the study's preliminary results.

If you can't make it then, an on demand version will be available later that day.

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