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Projects – advancing the business and serving to the society

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Interpreting the ISO 21500 approach on organizational strategy and projects [1], a new definition of project can be set, where project can be defined like “tool for shifting the opportunities to the benefits”. Indeed, a project is nothing but reaction to the problem, needs, opportunities or ideas.

While many particular details of a project and project management are justifiably focused like important, there is no any doubt that success of a project is the key element in each project life cycle. And success is confirmed by benefits, expressed by solving the problem, fulfilling the needs, or realizing ideas or opportunities which bring benefits.

As each project is complex by many means, including in the terms of interests and stakeholders, project success could be also expressed trough different perspectives and criteria. There is no doubt that the project success is complex item and its evaluation needs comprehensive, professional and timely approach. A single stakeholder satisfaction is rather easy to be achieved, but in the 21st century it is not enough and not acceptable. The profession of management with its all levels of hierarchy must focus success by multy criteria approach and finding multy “win project outcome”. Basically it means that the project stakeholders must adapt to develop and implement approach, which reflect “strategy for sharing a project benefits”.

It is opposite from the strategy of sharing negative impacts of project risks, which is already in practice, or if we take in consideration wider, definition that risks could also have positive impacts to a projects, then it is combined “strategy for sharing project benefits and looses”. In standard or small size commercial projects, such dilemma is mostly set, especially in commercial projects. In a large scale and a project with public participation, it is not so easy to set, and in many cases, it is not defined in all details, so there are debates and argues about the success or failure of a particular project of such size [2]. Megaprojects for instance are always large scale with many “?” across all characteristics and always with some kind of a society participation. In a megaproject everything is mega, which makes them different and specific for management. While some of them have more commercial foundation and expectations (i.e. industrial megaprojects), the other have more community focused expectations (i.e. particular infrastructures). In the both cases, elements of a business and society expectations are present, with interaction of financial and social criteria of success. None of success criteria is easy to program and determine while dealing with a megaproject, but seems financial aspect is more represented in a feasibility and post project analyses. Investment from a society and benefits for a society are always more demanding part of analysis, since society is investing its future, not only in terms of value of the money, but also in terms of many resources (i.e. natural resource like land, water, …).  So it mostly goes that society participate in a megaproject by some critical resource which define today and tomorrow of the whole society. The typical example are infrastructure megaprojects where society invest unique natural resources, and there will be no possible to reshape or change such usage for years and years. Megaprojects are not only about the generation which live today, but also about the future generations, where current generation by acting in good faith, influence life of future generation without previous debate and consensus. As per usual, a megaprojects brings together both perspectives, represented by business and society, it is critical to develop the balanced concept for mult-win strategy, which will create balanced benefits for advancing the business and serving to the society involved in.

[1] ISO 21500 Guidelinance on project management, ISO 2012.

[2] Ika, L.A.: Project success as a topic in project management journals, Project Management Journal 40 (2009) 4, pp. 6-19.

- Author of this post

Sandra is Assistant to the IPMA President and Executive Director. Since joining IPMA in 2012, Sandra worked in FMCG sector as Customer Business Development Assistant for Procter&Gamble. She holds Master in Economisc from Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb. After graduation she continued at the same University the doctoral programme in Business Economics. Her particular interest in project management is related to megaproject management, PM schools of thoughts and cultural diversity.

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