How to measure the value of project management

By Marilyn de Villiers
Johannesburg, 14 May 2018

Project management is increasingly being used to bridge the gap between strategy and action, particularly in sectors that traditionally have not embraced the project management discipline.

As a result, the global economy has become more project-oriented than ever before, with the number of project management jobs that are becoming available globally far exceeding expectations.

That's according to Lorraine Mutambiranwa, executive: client service delivery at Ulwembu Business Services, a Johannesburg-based, black-owned management consulting and ICT services company.

Nevertheless, Mutambiranwa is concerned that South Africa is lagging the rest of the world in this regard because of difficulties faced by local project management offices (PMOs) to demonstrate the real value of their projects.

The latest 'Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017 - 2027' report published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) stated that the available number of project management jobs in 2017 had already exceeded earlier estimations as companies became increasingly reliant on technologies to support the implementation of their strategies.

It was because these technologies were unable to deliver on their full potential without the support of projects, that there was this unprecedented upward trajectory in the number of projects, along with demand for project managers to support them, across the globe.

"Projects can be transformative in nature, to people, businesses and entire nations, and are able to provide tangible outcomes. There is no doubt that smart, sustainable and innovative project management practices ensure successful outcomes," Mutambiranwa said.

However, she added, it was difficult for project management consultants, especially for those operating in South Africa, to demonstrate value to clients.

"It is important to be able to show PMO value as well as to measure customer satisfaction at any point in a project's rollout." Mutambiranwa said.

One way in which this could be tackled, she believed, was to follow the suggestion of Jack Duggal, author of 'The DNA of Strategy-Execution: Next Generation Project/Program Management & PMO', and introduce the concept of a 'PMO Delight Index (PDI)'.

"A PDI can help to show value to customers, which accounts for the 'how' of project and programme management, while looking at complexities, promoting a clear understanding of a project's scope objectives and ensuring that these objectives are met," Mutambiranwa explained.

According to Mutambiranwa, Duggal outlined four steps to measure PDI:

1. Efficiency;
2. Effectiveness;
3. Experience; and
4. Impact.

"Companies need to bear in mind that, on large-scale projects in particular, it can take up to a year to see benefits. It is therefore critical that the achievement of desired objectives is measured, the customer experience and 'moments of truth' are assessed, and the impact of the programme or project is gauged every step of the way," she said.

"This requires a change in thinking and a change in engagement from project leaders and sponsors, so that they stop getting caught up in execution and become visionaries, showing what the future will be like, after the project has been 'switched on'.

"It is through forward-thinking concepts like this that we can truly start to take South African PMOs to the next level, ensuring that they remain adaptable and agile during these fairly turbulent business times," Mutambiranwa concluded.