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Projects and Project Management in Finland

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After returning from a visit to Finland I´d like to continue our series of reports from IPMA Member Countries. Finland is a sparsely populated country in the north of Europe. Most of the 5.5 Million inhabitants live in the south of the country, whilst Lapland in the north only accounts for 3.5% of the population, but covering nearly 1/3 of the Finnish territory. Finland is situated between Sweden in the West, Norway to the North and Russia to the East. In the South Finland is bordered on the Baltic Sea, not far from the Baltic States, especially Estonia. Formerly part of Sweden, it was taken over by the Russian Empire on 29 March 1809. It became an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917 when it declared independence. 1995 Finland joined the European Union and 1999 the Eurozone. Nowadays, Finland is one of driving forces, both in the European Union as well as in the Scandinavian region

Formerly heavily based on forestry, paper factories, and the agricultural sector, Finland´s economy nowadays is mainly formed of services at 66%, followed by manufacturing and refining at 31%. The Greater Helsinki area generates approximately a third of the national GDP, with well-known companies such as Nokia, Tieto, Fortum, Metso, Kone or Wärtsilä. According to Wikipedia, the development of the economy is sustainable: “Finland is highly integrated into the global economy, and international trade is a third of GDP. The European Union makes up 60% of the total trade. The largest trade flows are with Germany, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and China. Trade policy is managed by the European Union, where Finland has traditionally been among the free trade supporters, except for agriculture. Finland is the only Nordic country to have joined the Eurozone.” Nevertheless, during the last years, the economy has suffered from a serious decline, especially due to the political tensions between Russia and the European Union. Russia is an important partner of Finland, for export, investments and also as Shopping Centre for the rich of Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

The newly elected government has announced a new political agenda, which contains large programs, e.g. one for the digitalization of the country. Industrial projects range from mining in Lapland, the extension of the Metro-System in Greater Helsinki including the ”underwater” metro station at Koivusaari, projects in the energy sector for nuclear and wind power. The construction of Olkiluoto3 is one of the examples of severe cost and time overruns which led into a discussion, whether to build a forth unit or to start from the scratch with a new power plant.

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The Project Management Association of Finland (PMAF) was founded in 1978. It is an active member of IPMA. It is also part of Nordnet, a regional network of the Scandinavian member associations of IPMA, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. PMAF has approximately 4000 members from about 600 companies. It strives to move the profession forward through events (including the 3PMO Day with 150 participants and the PM Days with more than 1.000 participants), four regional chapters in Vaasa, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskylä. Additionally, PMAF is facilitating a dialogue of several Special Interest Groups, e.g. PM in the Public Sector, Clean Tec, project-oriented organisations and Research of Project Management. The Young Crew of PMAF is a very important driver of the development. The young professionals are performing a ”Project Management Championship”, this year the Finnish Team won also the International PM Championship in Vilnius. Furthermore, the Young Crew is performing the ”Young Project Manager of the Year” Award as well as a discussion forum once a month. What is special in Finland: Always expect to be invited to a sauna. Building a home, the first part of the building is the sauna, and visiting the offices of PMAF in Helsinki, always expect an invitation to the sauna in the office building!

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- 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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