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The evolution of project management practice

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The practice of project management is developing rapidly, starting from the medievals as a kind of craftsmanship. In the 1950s the “management approach” came into game and formed the nowadays called “professional practice” or “profession” (which, at least some argue, is not yet a profession). However, the project practice has undergone significant changes requiring new ways of thinking and working. Darren Dalcher, Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, recently published a book focusing on the “evolution of project management practice – from programmes and contracts to benefits and change”. It is argued that “modern practitioners increasingly utilise deliberative and reflective approaches, often challenging received wisdom and traditional interpretations… [because] the single focus on the staged delivery of artefacts is gradually being replaced by a wider interest in stakeholders, value, benefits and complexity. As a result there is a growing interest in the development of practitioner capabilities, grounded in the recognition that dealing with permeable boundaries and unstructured situations transcends normative processes.”

The volume provides a sampling of articles, ideas and perspectives. Key topics are covered including but not limited to agility and programme management, planning, people, business cases, contracts, teams, sponsorship, collaboration, strategy, patterns, context, change, and benefits. The main aims of the collection are to reflect on the state of practice within the discipline; to propose new extensions and additions to good practice; to offer new insights and perspectives; to distil new knowledge; and, to provide a way of sampling a range of the most promising ideas, perspectives and styles of writing from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the discipline. This is certainly not the end of the evolution, during the next couple of decades we´ll experience the next generation(s) of practices emerging and being applied, let´s enjoy the journey together…

- Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defence, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is President of IPMA, past President and Honorary Fellow of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, Germany´s No. 1 PM Full Service Provider.

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