Project management started as a methodology to design, execute, manage and control defense projects. Then the word got out and these techniques spread to construction and information technology. Today they are used across a wide range of industries, but of even greater significance is the extensive use of these techniques within the firm. They are used to support marketing programs, financial recapitalization projects, mergers and acquisitions, and new product development. In fact, project management techniques are used wherever a collection of activities has a beginning and an end.
These techniques have proved so successful that they have become an indispensible weapon in the firm’s competitive arsenal. Indeed, they have even affected the management structure of the firm. Many are now organized around projects, called the Project Based Organization, PBO.
While project management has had a direct influence on the internal operations of the firm, there have been significant changes in the external or competitive environment that have been pushing project management in new directions.
Two of these forces include globalization and innovation.
Globalization has several sides. On one side, it has provided new markets into which products and services can be sold. And the benefit of a weak dollar is that the price of US goods has fallen in foreign markets. This means greater opportunities for exports. On the other side, as trade barriers fall and world markets become more accessible, our businesses now have to worry about both domestic and global competitive forces.
Innovation is a second force that affects project management. Product life cycles are shorter and investments in new products have to be recouped sooner. Even while some companies are working on new cutting edge products their competitor may beat them to the market with an even greater leap forward. Sometimes a successful project outcome can be a competitive failure!
What this means is that globalization and innovation have raised the bar for project managers. And to meet this challenges project managers will need more than the traditional tools. They will need to develop the skills necessary to mine projects for every possible strategic advantage.
At GPS our interest is to ensure that your project managers and teams develop these skills, and that your projects succeed in the global marketplace. Today, more than at any time, successful projects are measured by sales, profitability, market share, and global reach.