In 2017, the Project Management Institute estimated that the value of the project-oriented economic activities worldwide will grow from EUR 12 trillion to EUR 20 trillion within a decade. By 2027, it is estimated that over 88 million people will be working in project management.

Successful projects not only make work meaningful – they improve the world. If organisations want to acquire the competencies needed to transform and thrive in the new project economy, they will need to develop strategies that foster efficiency and change management skills.

Project management brings change

On the International Project Management Day, the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA) initiated a discussion between Dalius Misiūnas, President of the ISM University of Management and Economics, Darius Samuolis, business consultant and Aurimas Želvys, Director of the LBSA, where they shared their insights on the relevance of the project management practice for today’s business.

The LBSA is by far the largest public sector agency in terms of EU investment projects for business in 2014–2020, with over 1,500 business clients. Today, 1,600 business projects for the 2014–2020 period have been completed, another 1,700 are under implementation and more than 1,000 will be contracted in early 2022.

‘This is why it makes sense for us to think about smart servicing of business projects. For me personally, project management is first and foremost a universal method of organising change,’ Želvys began the discussion.

Darius Samuolis, who is advising the business community, also agreed that project management is related to change management.

‘I would look at project management from two perspectives – it is a way to develop products externally, and the second way is to develop the organisation. An organisation will only be powerful, capable and effective to the extent that it can look after its capabilities and resources, and these things are managed by change for clients,’ he said.

‘I would add how important it is that the ambition of project management matches the maturity of the organisation. I could point to the government and the project-based implementation of its programme as an example. There has certainly been a lot of investment in both the methodology and the tools, but now when looking at the strategic reforms, it is clear that the maturity of the organisation and the organisations does not always match that methodological ambition. Then you get lost, which is one of the challenges of project management. Metaphorically speaking, the size of the hammer needs to be chosen according to the size of the nails,’ said Misiūnas.

Developing benefit realisation skills

Želvys: ‘If you look at it from the perspective of EU investment, i.e. the Structural Funds, three financial periods have already passed. In 2004–2006 we talked about learning how to use the funds we receive from donor countries. In 2007–2013, we wanted to create something effective and then, in 2014–2020, we started talking about sustainable results that last. Those objectives – two and three – are still valid today, but determinism has emerged. EU investments are needed today to realise sustainable change’.

‘Sustainability of results is ensured when the result is measured. From the classical point of view, we like, and quite rightly, to complete the project when the project activities end, but the consolidation and measurement of the result are very important components,’ noted Misiūnas.

According to Želvys, the purpose of the EU investment for business is to build capacity so responsible business can be global and competitive, and so that organisations working in both business and the public sector can create capabilities that can be used.

‘It seems to me that there are two questions: what will the investment be used for, which is difficult to answer, and the second question is how will it be used? The answer is easy – through projects,’ said Samuolis.

The first week of November marks International Project Management Day, which is not only a day to re-evaluate the importance of successful projects, but also a day for professional project managers, whose hard work and dedication often goes unnoticed.

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