For a long time I follow news and updates from the European Commission, with particular attention to the areas ICT and project management, so much so that in 2012 I was invited right from the Commission to participate at the Assembly for the Digital Agenda, my notes (in Italian) are still on the site http://agendadigitale.tumblr.com/(the fashion social at that time).
Following the evolution of the scenario - thanks to the Join UP platform - in 2016 I was really happy to see published an open standard for project management. This standard followed the other great reference, not open but at least shared, the ISO 21500 "Guidance on project management" of 2012 . The international standard, which has been published after many years of reflections and negotiations , has laid a first bridge - fundamental - on the one hand between management systems and specific methodologies for project management, on the other between public and private . The Public Administration - until then - could not in fact refer - for the management of projects - to a standard that was owned by a private organization, with ISO 21500 this process could start, but it was not. My university pointed out to me as an expert for the UNI Commission (the Italian standardization body) that deals with ISO21500 ( ISO / TC 258) , and I also participated in a Working Group for the definition of guidelines for the adoption of ISO 21500 in the Public Administration ( GL Project management in the public administration ) , but the works - in fact - have never started.
With these premises, the 2016 publication "PM² Project Management Methodology" - appeared with the words "© European Union, 2016 Reproduction and reuse is authorized provided the source is acknowledged " - has opened a new path . Public Administrations in EU countries may refer to this methodology, open and free, private organizations can adopt, or otherwise put it in their documentation and also the organizations that already have a different standard for project management , now can make a correlation matrix between the different methodologies to harmonize their process defined with this new open standard. It is a breakthrough, a milestone in the history of the project management.
But now we have to start working on it.
Experience tells us that the complete adoption of a new management standard within an organization requires between three and five years. The Public Administration is a gigantic organization and regulated by millions of rules, providing five years for a full application of the methodology is an optimistic forecast. If we started immediately we would then reach the highest degree of maturity in the use of the standard only - perhaps - in 2023. As far as I am concerned, as I work at the International Research Office of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, my long-term reference planner is the European Union Research Funding Framework Program: Horizon 2020 which will end in 2020 and the next Horizon Europe for the period 2021-2027, so the fateful date of 2023 will fall in the middle of Horizon Europe, the next Framework Program, which will be mission-oriented, that is, will have "defined goals, with specific targets and working to achieve them in a set time ", only those who do not know anything about project management can have doubts or do not understand.
The question is: which way to start?
Not being a theoretician I did not attempt to investigate the issue speculatively, I followed the commitments of the agenda, one of these as well as specific happened at the right time: an invitation to hold a short course of Project Management.
To call me was Daniele Chieffi, guru of Strategic Communication and Strategic Director of the Master in New Media Design, the course was organized by the IAAD of Turin, a private University that boasts, among teachers and directors of the Department, names that they have made the "Made in Italy" great, the link with the companies is obviously implicit. The class was composed of a select and limited number of young students from all over the world [PM² 2018, 3.2.1 , 5.4 ] . In short: a challenge, not without risks. I accepted; those with experience in project management are well aware that every project is - first of all - the sharing of a risk, if it is not possible to accept and manage risks, it is better to change jobs.
In a course the Project Charter sees as fundamental content the educational program, the private context has led me to derive the index of course materials from ISO21500, but the ISO standard is thin, does not contain all the educational resources and is not free , while being shared internationally.
To use as a teaching material the ISO standard I would have to prepare examples, use cases, possible application models, templates for documentation. Another option could be to adopt one of the project management methods already formalized and internationally recognized, to complete what is missing from ISO 21500, but this would have imposed on students both the cost of the standard and the manual for the methodology.
PM² Project Management, already had everything necessary, including document templates (artefacts) the only risk was related to the level of maturity of the methodology, it is a very recent rule. However, this risk was mitigated, on the one hand it was an introductory course, on the other by my 30 years of experience in project management, many of them in the specific field of the Master.
I then started to analyze PM² and I did not find any gaps, indeed I had the definitive confirmation of the presence - between attachments and models (artefacts) - of all the teaching resources needed to conduct the course, plus the advantage - not indifferent - to be able to distribute all the material for free to students [PM² 2018, 9.7] .
I tried to include in the program - already full of knowledge - notes on the application of some of the techniques and tools listed in the appendix to the guide [PM² 2018, Appendix C: Project Management Tools & Techniques], but the lost looks of some students they made it clear that I was asking too much. The students were young and with no project management experience, only one of them had worked in ICT contexts with the Agile approach, I then used the appropriate appendix [Appendix D: PM² Extensions D.1 PM² and Agile Management], to conduct a brief session on the Agile methodology and then I returned to the basic methodology.
To better illustrate the dynamics and phases typical of the management of a project I chose a cooperative learning approach and used the business case chosen by the other teachers for the courses of User Experience design and User Interface design, it was necessary that the Business Case be well known by the students.
In order to make this assessment as realistic as possible, the matrix of assignment of responsibilities was fundamental, also this already available as an annex to the guide [PM² 2018 Appendix E: Additional Resources RAM (RASCI)]. The students were able to experiment with the typical situations of the various phases of a project and used PM² to orient themselves in the choices and the different decisions they were asked to take in order to successfully complete the project defined by the business case.
It was an introductory course, the main purpose was to make students understand that the PM² methodology is a tool to be used to define the steps and communications necessary for the optimal conduct of a project, considering all the people involved at the various levels.
The young age of the students and their lack of experience were not a problem but a resource, a supply of energy. Let us not forget that today's young students will be the driving force of Europe in 2023.
PM² has been designed to train European Commission officials, it can certainly be used to train all professional profiles that have to do with the procedures and projects managed by the European Commission, but let's not forget our young people: PM² can be used with success also to manage research groups in secondary school or university, in order to prepare young people to better face - and professionally - the complex reality that they will manage.
Ready for Planning [PM² 2018, 5.5]
Eusebio F. Giandomenico (@eusebiofg)
The PM² Project Management Methodology Guide