Projectification and its consequences

Globalisation is challenging almost every aspect of the political, economic, social and technological environment. Organisations, whether public or private, have to adapt their strategies and operations to stay competitive and efficient.

As the world changed from an industrially-driven to a more knowledge-driven economy and the pace of continuous change became more intense, organisations adopted a project-based mode of operations on a broader scale, and ‘projectification’ became more wide-spread.

(Ekstedt, 2009)

Cleland (1994) suggests that many organisations engage in projects due to a variety of pressures, such as shortened product lifecycles, increasingly complex and technical products, low inflation and external market demands. Furthermore, internal aspirations to simplify organisational communication, simplified decision-making and the need to empower employees, have given rise to new types of organisations.

Organisations in all types of industries are finding that traditional organisational structures, including functional departments, business units and divisions set up for managing high-volume throughputs of standardised products and services and for making decisions in a relatively stable technological and market environment, are no longer adequate. In the rapidly changing and increasingly turbulent and uncertain environment they face today, organisations are finding that some sort of project organisation is better suited to the kind of one-off or temporary problems that they have to deal with.

(Maylor et al. 2006: 664)

Projects, or in other words, task-specific and time-limited work, are perceived as a controllable way of avoiding all the classic problems of bureaucracy with which most normal organisations are struggling (Lindgren and Packendorff, 2009).

It’s almost impossible to find any organisation not holding any projects within its boundaries. For many organisations, projects are a fundamental way of operation. For instance, Siemens earns 50% of its revenue from projects, while for management consultancies this number is as high as 90% (Pinto, 2010). The UK government, from local to national level, carries out a significant proportion of its business through projects.

Projects are central to our economies but how important are they to an organisation? Research has listed many benefits of project management for organisations:

  • Ability to deploy the project consistently with a consistent set of processes
  • Reduction of risk and maximisation of opportunities through the use of tried and tested and proven processes
  • Greater likelihood of achieving the desired result
  • Encourages teamwork and allows people to share ideas which provide inspiration and boost creativity
  • Optimal, effective, and efficient use of resources
  • Knowledge retention and learning from failure
  • Satisfying the differing needs of the project’s stakeholders

In the global setting, project management techniques provide organisations with the ability to link multiple business partners and respond quickly to market demand and supplier needs, while remaining flexible enough to anticipate and respond to rapid shifts in consumer preferences.

Your task

Look at one of the two suggested readings (available in the see also section).

What are the potential negative consequences of projectification for organisations and their employees?

Share your thoughts in the comments section and discuss with your fellow learners.


References

Cleland, D. I. (1994) ‘Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation’. New York: Wiley

Ekstedt, E. (2009) ‘A New Division of Labour: The “Projectification” of Working and Industrial Life’ in Morea, M.-A.and Negrelli, S. (Ed.) ‘Building Anticipation of Restructuring in Europe’, 65. Germany: Peter Lang, pp. 31-53

Lindgren, M., and Packendorff, J. (2009) ‘Project Leadership Revisited: Towards Distributed Leadership Perspectives in Project Research’ International Journal of Project Organisation and Management 1(3), 285-308

Maylor, H., Brady, T., Cooke-Davies, T., and Hodgson, D. (2006) ‘From Projectification to Programmification’. International Journal of Project Management 24(8), 663-674

Pinto, J. (2010) ‘Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage’. 2nd edn. Harlow: Pearson

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This article is from the free online course:

Foundations of Project Management

Coventry University