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Live from Warsaw: July 2008 Archives

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 ...


Proud as a Graduate

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One thing that struck me as principal investigators Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, spoke at their overview presentation on Researching the Value of Project Management was their pride in their team and the team's work in collecting a massive amount of data from 65 organizations around the world, conducting 417 interviews and 344 surveys, and then analyzing all that information.

Trying to imagine what it would be like to stand in front of an audience of your peers at the near-completion of an incredible effort five years in the making, the only analogy that came to mind was graduation. Only, in this case, instead of a person moving on and growing following completion of a degree program, an entire profession with millions of members around the world is graduating to the next level of maturity ... one in which organizations and the world in general will now know the value they create.

To put the power of Researching the Value of Project Management into perspective, Blaize Horner, Ph.D., a professor at Simon Fraser University, told me Dr. Thomas made an "amazingly strong statement for a researcher when she said unequivocally that project management delivers value." Dr. Blaize said researchers rarely use that word unequivocal because research generally brings up more questions than answers. She also said the finding that even at low levels of maturity project management demonstrated value was "very encouraging."

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.

Conference Scenes

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Attendees gather at the PMI Research Conference 2008 ...




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.

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 ...

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.

Our Principal Investigators

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Here's a brief look at the principal researchers behind PMI's Researching the Value of Project Management study:

 Janice Thomas, Ph.D.:
Dr. Thomas serves as associate professor of project management and program director for the Executive MBA in Project Management program at Athabasca University in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada. A veteran of the field for almost 25 years, she was recognzied by PM Network as one of the most influential women in project management in 2006.
Mark Mullaly, PMP: President of Interthink Consulting in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mr. Mullaly works to integrate expertise in project management, strategy, organizational theory and psychology. He has more than 20 years of experience and his research interests include value of organizational project management, strategic decision-making, and exploration of personal preferences and psychological types.

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. 

Heading to Warsaw ...

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    My bags are packed and I'm leaving for the airport headed to Warsaw for PMI's Research Conference. I arrive on Saturday and will be making regular posts throughout the event. Check back for a behind-the-scenes look at the conference from me and my fellow bloggers. Gregory Balestrero, president and CEO of PMI, will also be providing his take on the study and project management at large.
    The early buzz around the conference is that researchers Janice Thomas, Ph.D., and Mark Mullaly, PMP, have some pretty significant results to present from PMI's multimillion-dollar study on Researching the Value of Project Management.
    Til now, researchers have been unable to collect and analyze the relevant data to demonstrate the value of project management with sufficient scope and statistical validity. There have been other survey-based studies on the subject. But this is hardcore evidence--apparently a gigabyte of data has been analyzed--and that makes it hard for anyone to ignore. The study will look at more than 60 cases (I've heard closer to 70) from small and large companies across a variety of industries and around the world.
    Stay tuned ...

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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