Project management becomes a strategic competence for public sector organizations

The Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania together with the Lithuanian Business Support Agency invited project management specialists to the Project Management Forum 2019 ‘Open Government and Project Management: Towards Sustainable Development’ to share best practices in project management in the public sector. The story of a project successfully completed by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation aimed to rank at least 15 in the Doing Business 2020 was discussed at the event.  
Project management is becoming an increasingly important competence in the implementation strategy of the Lithuanian public sector organizations. Governments implement policies through projects, and in this way countries and societies evolve through change. In an increasingly digital world, project management is becoming the most human-oriented function and more rarely just a technical IT function.
High project management competencies are inseparable from successful project implementation; therefore, it has also become one of the top priorities for the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania whereas the Ministry of Economy and Innovation and the Lithuanian Business Support Agency are focusing on the impact of projects on the economy and boosting productivity.
Public sector project management competencies as priorities for the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania 
One of the most ambitious projects in the last three years has been a Unified Government Planning and Project Management System. ‘We are moving forward with project management across all 14 ministries, and we are now working with 10 to cover all areas of governance and to form a single planning and management model that extends to subordinate institutions and organizations. This must become a priority. It is important to build teams and accumulate competencies to ensure project management and continuity so that it would remain and become a tradition and a sustainable basis for more than one Government,’ said Chancellor of the Government Algirdas Stončaitis.
‘We want to expand further into ministries so that it would not only be a project management approach within the Government Office but also would become a standard for the public sector, a common project management system. When we start to speak one language and think in the same way, we will move forward quickly,’ explains L. Savickas, Adviser to the Prime Minister.
Success story of Doing Business 2020
One of the ten ministries that organize project-based activities - the Ministry of Economy and Innovation - is proud today of the success of one of the most ambitious projects. This year Lithuania jumped in the ranking to a record 11th place in the Doing Business 2020.    
Lukas Savickas, the initiator of the project idea, says the Doing Business project has helped Lithuania become more visible to foreign investors. ‘The goal of the project was to create a competitive business environment where multinational corporations would invest and create new jobs bringing together the state-of-the-art technology, business methods, new opportunities for local businesses and the chance for professionals to pursue international careers without leaving Lithuania,’ emphasizes the Prime Minister's adviser.
According to Marius Skuodis, Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation, project management helped achieve the expected results and even exceed the expectations. ‘There was a very clear list of things we needed to do in order to move Lithuania upwards in the ranking. Personal responsibility of individual people and the ongoing political focus through project management and the Supervisory Commission on Strategic Projects where we addressed issues at regular senior level meetings also contributed to the significant change. Of course, one of the most essential factors to the project success was the project team. And here is the result that we ranked 11th, and we should go higher up in the ranking next year.’ 
The purpose of ongoing projects - to implement a change ensuring sustainable results for present and future generations 
Aurimas Pautienius-Želvys, Director of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency, which manages over 1,300 EU investment projects for business per year, also agrees with M. Skuodis, Vice-Minister of Economy and Innovation, on the importance of the team and the involvement of project owners in project planning and implementation: ‘It is very important to understand what determines the success of projects. When managing a large number of projects, we have an increasingly important approach to professional project management, a focus on sustainable results, and the realization of benefits.’
A. Pautienius-Želvys notes that the development of project managers’ competencies, professional networking, involvement of organization owners and dissemination of success stories as well as communication is crucial to the public sector community. ‘The Doing Business project is just one success story, and there are many more. The more we talk, learn from experience, the more changes for a sustainable future can occur between proponents and strategic investors in Lithuania.’  According to Eglė Daunienė, associate professor at Vilnius University, who deals with the processes of change in the public sector, it would reduce resistance to change. 
Speakers of the Project Management Forum tended to emphasize the multifaceted benefits of project management; however, all unanimously argued that project management is the only path to pursue efficiency in the public sector. Successful projects are the language of governments, business, the public sector and the professional world, ranging from a manager to a project team member who manages his/her career and develops mutual relationships. Successful projects, their speed and quality in the public sector lead to changes, and therefore it is important to implement public sector projects better, reduce failure rates, create more value for individuals and organizations and ensure a more sustainable future for society. 

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