has officially crashed. All around the
globe, unemployment rates are rising
and money is scarce.
Every single business decision—and
every single project—is anchored to
predictions about what the economy
will do next. Project managers are forced
to make do with less time, smaller budgets
and fewer people than ever before.
The 3rd annual PM Network Trends
Report looks at the shifting landscape
and outlines the five big business trends
every project manager needs to deal
with—or face the consequences.
In a business landscape where every
dollar is scrutinized and schedules are
compressed to accelerate ROI, project
managers know this isn’t the time for
anything that might be construed as
“Economic pressure is the driving
force to improve project efficiency,”
says Boguslaw Bujak, an IT services
executive manager and consultant based
in Warsaw, Poland.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Across Europe, he has observed the
impact of greater competition and
fewer projects, forces that have pushed
project teams to rethink their approach
and trim fat wherever possible.
“Without pressure, processes won’t
improve,” he says. “It’s a good situation
for project management, because it
forces project leaders to expect more
from their teams and from themselves.”
Mr. Bujak says he believes the
heightened global competition has put
greater emphasis on developing a strong
project management structure to guide
processes, measure outcomes and identify
areas for improvement.
“In this market, customers expect
much more, and the time to market is
more important than it was even three
for a look at how other
countries are dealing with
the economic crisis—
and what that means
years ago,” he adds. “Only companies
that can find ways to incrementally
increase their efficiencies while minimizing their risks will see long-term
That usually means digging into
project processes, though such action
can’t be a top-down mandate, says
Giovanni Gelape, Lean Six Sigma manager for the European bank BNP
Paribas in São Paulo, Brazil. Rather, the
entire team should map the project
scope and evaluate the value of each
step in the process. Based on its analysis,
the team can then identify tasks and
deliverables crucial to achieving desired
business results—and eliminate those
that aren’t vital or slow down the project’s
This, too, can help strengthen
“Once the team understands the
scope, it’s easier for them to remove
waste and add value to the process,”
adds Danilo Gazel, process efficiency
manager at Cetelem Serviços Ltd., a São
Paulo-based consumer credit company
that’s part of BNP Paribas.
Last year, for example, Mr. Gazel
worked with a team of BNP lawyers
preparing documents for upcoming
hearings. At the time, the team was facing
a backlog of 600 cases. By reviewing the
document-development process with
the team, he was able to help pare down
the number of queries required to complete each document by more than half.
The process was also reorganized so that
several steps could be completed in tandem to reduce lost time.
“By eliminating steps that weren’t
adding value to the process, we were
able to get rid of the backlog in just
three months without adding
resources,” he says.
Mr. Gazel says some of the greatest
gains can be achieved through streamlining sign-off procedures and by putting a single person in charge of all
approval processes. “This one step can
make projects faster, easier and less costly,”