V IE WPOIN TS
THE ROI OF SOCIAL
Project managers need to use their skills to make
sure aid projects meet their objectives, too.
BY LYNDA BOURNE, DPM, PMP
ASIA PACIFIC WATCH
s project management proves its worth in the
Afor-profit sector, we also need to ensure its benefits are shared with those in need. Around the
world, project managers are volunteering their
expertise, and it’s no different in Australia.
An “accident of geography,” allowed Australia to avoid any
direct damage from the 2004 tsunami, despite being much
closer to the source than many of the countries devastated by
the waves. The nation’s role was focused on providing immediate and ongoing aid to its closest neighbors, including the
Indonesian territory of Aceh.
Australia’s initial response was well-rehearsed. The country
has its fair share of natural disasters, and the government and
non-government organizations have developed a tested,
coordinated emergency-response framework.
Now that the Aceh effort is in its recovery phase, a
range of agencies continues to support the reconstruction
with billions of dollars devoted to projects, building everything from fishing boats to hospitals.
The efforts have been impressive, yet the scale of the
disaster—and more particularly that of the enormous
reconstruction effort—has highlighted limitations in the
ability of agencies to deliver projects over a sustained period.
Paul Steinfort, PMP, was involved in the rebuilding effort
in Aceh as a program manager. Seeing the need to improve
the aid agencies’ project management capabilities before
another major disaster struck, Mr. Steinfort requested a
special meeting of the PMI Melbourne, Australia Chapter
and the Australian Institute of Project Management. That
joint effort led to the formation of Project Aid (PA) and
kicked off the group’s ongoing work to develop and deliver
project management training based on PMI’s Project
Management Methodology for Post Disaster Reconstruction.
PA also offers mentoring and other backup services,
including its Project Notebook, a compact reference guide
designed to help field workers achieve their organizations’
optimum outcomes in
In February 2009, PA
focused its efforts much
closer to home. Following the disastrous Australian bush
fires of Black Saturday, the group is discussing ways the
project management profession can assist the reconstruction effort to clean up and rebuild homes, businesses and
townships. Perhaps there is a message here for all PMI
communities to start developing plans and connections so
they’re ready to help in their own backyards when needed.
In the Trenches
Mr. Steinfort says a passion to work with others has led
him to “the realization of some exceptional experiences
and developments,” including volunteer projects in Aceh,
and the Nias and Mentawai islands off the western coast of
“The key factors have been a love of people and learning
how to plan and apply project and program management [for
the] best outcomes, no matter how difficult the challenge,”
says Mr. Steinfort, who is currently working on a doctorate
focused on the project management of relief efforts.
For project managers like Mr. Steinfort, such efforts
not only provide a way to build their skill sets but also to
help the greater good.
The need to achieve the best possible ROI isn’t just
the province of corporations and governments. It’s up to
project managers to ensure social responsibility projects
are held to the same high standards. PM
Lynda Bourne, DPM, PMP, is the managing director of
Stakeholder Management pty Ltd. and
director of training at Mosaic Project
Services pty Ltd., both in Australia. Dr.
Bourne graduated from the Royal Melbourne
Institute of Technology as the first professional
doctor of project management in 2005.
To find out more about PMI's humanitarian efforts and its Project Management Methodology
for Post Disaster Reconstruction, go to: www.pmi.org/pmief/humanitarian/PDRM.asp.