Planning for better performance
PMI Ireland Chapter president Niall Murphy talks about project management’s role in improving business performance
The Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute has experienced a 20 per cent growth in membership over the last 12 months to a current total of 1,300.
The Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and has never been in ruder health, according to Niall Murphy, Ireland Chapter president and senior development manager with Oracle. “We have experienced a 20 per cent growth in membership over the last 12 months to a current total of 1,300,” he says. “And we recently announced the inaugural National Project Awards which will be held in PwC’s offices in Spencer Dock, Dublin, on November 1st next.”
He believes this growth is a reflection of an increasing recognition of the importance of project management to successful organisational performance. “The research proves it,” he says. “PMI’s most recent global project management survey showed that 71 per cent of projects successfully meet goals in organisations which prioritise project management compared to just 52 per cent in organisations that do not.”
That same research also shows that having proven project, programme and portfolio management practices in place makes a dramatic difference in project performance. Eighty-nine per cent of projects at high-performing organisations meet original goals and business intent. These high performers complete 80 per cent or more of projects on time, on budget, while meeting original goals.
“Those organisations that do project management achieve much better value for money,” says Murphy. “They are much more efficient and have a much greater chance of success. Basically, people who use good project-management techniques achieve their goals more often and are much more efficient. In the private sector, these organisations are more profitable while in the public sector the use of project management in areas like infrastructure and public health can save the taxpayer an awful lot of money. The Irish public sector is embracing and implementing project management and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) is running lots of project-management courses for public-sector employees. That’s great to see.”
He points out that by definition, project management is temporary in nature. “It has a beginning and an end and an outcome. It can be a product, a service, a new building, a road or a bridge, it can even be a new organisation or a new mobile phone service. It is different to ongoing operations. It is not a continuous part of running a business.”
This is not to say that a lot of work which might be seen as routine or ongoing can’t be helped by project management. “A lot of work is being projectised,” he says. “That’s the way business is being done now. We see it a lot in financial services and IT. Things like GDPR or the Payment Services Directive or Brexit can result in new organisations being set up or splits in existing organisations.”
Opportunities for Ireland
It also represents opportunities for Ireland. “A lot of work in the multinational sector is being done with teams made up of people from all over the world,” Murphy explains. “They could all be working towards a common goal for a company and be members of the same team for a few months before they break up and re-form into other teams. If you are good at project management you can get to lead those projects. That’s an opportunity for Ireland to move up the value chain. If you are leading the project you can influence where the higher value and better quality work is being done. You might be able to locate the knowledge-intensive work here in Ireland. We have a good cadre of project managers here in Ireland and that’s very important for FDI.”
It’s been a busy year for Murphy and the Irish Chapter of PMI. “We are a very active chapter and we have been nominated for the Global Chapter of the year award,” he says. “We have made a shortlist of 12 out of 150 members and we are in with a fighting chance for the overall award which will be presented on October 26th in Chicago. The fact that we made such a short list out of such a very long list has people sitting up and taking notice of what we are doing.”
Day-to-day activities for the chapter include providing learning opportunities for members through seminars in different locations around the country. “We have these in Cork, Dublin and Limerick and we are hoping to get to Galway this year as well. We will also have two flagship events each year. We had our annual conference in the Aviva Stadium in the spring and had more than 400 in attendance this year.”
Next up is the National Project Awards. “PMI has awards in lots of other countries and the members here wanted something similar. The headline sponsor is PwC with IPA and AIB also sponsoring. Awards are popular for a number of reasons. People like the idea of being recognised by an award and being able to showcase their work. They get people talking positively about project management and it promotes the profession. It’s been a very full year. There is a real sense of excitement. That is good for the profession and for Irish business.”