PM Concepts
Tuning your RoI in Project Management


Research is critical for continuous improvement of project management practices. However, research is only as good as its results are applicable in real projects.

The consulting services offered by PM Concepts AB are based on integrated academic research and practical experience. The constant link to industry and Universities allows us to identify research that is useful for practitioners, while, at the same time, provide our clients with the latest knowledge for their advancement in project management. Examples include:

  • Balancing Vertical and Horizontal Leadership in Projects
    Awareness grows that leadership in projects is neither done solely by the project manager nor solely by the project team members. It is a continuous cycle of alternation between vertical leadership (by the project manager) and horizontal leadership (by one or more team members). The study reveals the process, the steps therein, and the conditions that trigger the transition of leadership from the project manager to a team member and back again.
    The results are of interest for every project.

  • Organizational Enablers for Project Governance
    While corporate culture plays a significant role in the success of any corporation, governance and governmentality not only determine how business should be conducted, but also define the policies and procedures organizations follow to achieve business functions and goals. This study examines the interaction of governance and governmentality in various types of companies and demonstrates how these factors drive business success and influence project work, efficiency, and profitability.

    The data for the studiy was collected through interviews with six companies in Sweden and China and a global web-based questionnaire that garnered 208 responses. Using this data the researchers conducted four studies, employing various research methodologies, to investigate the different systems of governance and their relationships to organizational success. Based on these results, the researchers discovered that organizational enablers (including key factors such as leadership, governance, and influence of project managers) have a critical impact on how organizations operate, adapt to market fluctuations and forces, and make essential changes over time. The results can be applied to any project-based organization.

  • Governance and Ethics in Projects
    This study investigated the types of ethical issues in projects and the ways they are influenced through different governance approaches. Through a series of interviews and worldwide survey, the researchers identified seven categories of ethical issues, and the project governance structures in which they tend to arise. Moreover, the study revealed the influence of corporate governance on the relationship between project governance and type of ethical issues in projects.
    The results are of interest for all project-based organizations.

  • Governance and Communities of PMOs
    Today, large organizations often deploy PMOs as multiple entities with different mandates, functions, and characteristics. Past research efforts have focused almost exclusively on single PMOs. Governance and Communities of PMOs breaks this mold by means of a report of international research with a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates the foundations of project management with social geography and innovation.
    This study offers a comprehensive survey and discussion of the theory surrounding multiple PMOs. The authors suggest three paradigms: islands, networks, and communities. The Communities of Practice is the newest and most different of the three paradigms, characterized by opportunities and hurdles in current management contexts.
    The study is of interest for all organziation that plan or already have multiple PMOs.

  • Identifying the Forces Driving Frequent Change in PMOs
    The objective of this research is to better understand the frequent transformations of PMOs. The unit of analysis in this research is a transformation of a PMO: a situation where an existing PMO is transformed into a new PMO with a different structure and/or a different role in the organization. The object of study is a change process. The research focuses on the drivers of the change, the nature of the change and its impacts.

  • Choosing Appropriate Project Managers: Matching their leadership style to the type of project
    In this research project we focus on the personal characteristics of project managers, particularly leadership style. It is this dimension that is identified by the general management literature as making the greatest contribution to a manager’s leadership ability; it is personal characteristics, particularly emotional intelligence, that is the greatest differentiator. Accordingly, we set out to show that the project manager’s competence, particularly their leadership style, does contribute to project success, and different competence profiles, particularly different leadership styles, are required on different types of project.
    We found from the research that:

    1. The project manager’s competency, including his or her leadership style, is a contributor to project success.
    2. Different competency profiles, including different leadership styles are appropriate for different types of projects.

    Consistently with the general management literature we found that the emotional group of competencies, EQ, was the most significant for successful project outcomes. Project managers must be emotionally intelligent.

    Our recommendation is that managers of project managers need to do three things:
    1. Be aware of the appropriate leadership competencies when selecting project managers for projects.
    2. Develop within the pool of project managers appropriate leadership competencies for the type of projects undertaken within the organization.
    3. Appreciate their project managers and their contribution to the success of projects within the organization.

  • Middle Managers in Program and Project Portfolio Management: Practices, Roles and Responsibilities
  • What are middle managers’ roles and responsibilities in program and project portfolio management? What are the best-practices of successful companies today? These questions are of increasing interest for organizations operating with limited resources and ambitious performance objectives. More and more organizations use projects as the building blocks for their business in order to deliver unique products or services to their clients’ specific requirements. At the same time, organizations are required to optimize the use of their resources to achieve their own business objectives. These project-based organizations have to balance two competing objectives, one being the delivery of high quality project and program objectives to internal and external clients, and the other being the most economic assignment of their resources across all projects in the organization.

    The majority of past studies looked into program and portfolio management to identify which project selection technique is most successful, how Return-on-Investment decisions are made, or which planning techniques are appropriate. The present study looks at the middle managers’ roles and responsibilities in program and portfolio management. Through that the study takes an organizational wide perspective towards the subject and identifies the best-practices of successful companies. To that end the study is complementary to existing literature written solely from a program or portfolio management perspective, and produces the activities, processes and tools used for successful program and portfolio management in an organization.

    Results from the study suggest that successful companies engage in both program and portfolio management simultaneously, in order to balance the variety of requirements from their internal and external clients. Success of these organizations is significantly higher than for organizations with neither program nor portfolio management, or those with only one of the two governance structures. Middle managers in successful organizations are significantly more involved in Steering Committee work, resource procurement, identification of bad projects, handling of issues related to programs and portfolios, as well as review and audit of troubled projects.

    The framework of program and portfolio management roles of middle managers, developed through this study, shows how effectiveness, efficiency and coordination is achieved through a set of activities prior to and during project execution. To manage their portfolio of projects, middle managers identify business opportunities, look for synergies between projects, as well as plan for and finally select required resources before projects are executed. During the same time business planning, project selection, resource planning and procurement, as well as program plan reviews take place in order to manage the programs of the organization. During project execution middle managers are engaged in identification of bad projects, participation in Steering Groups, coordination and issue handling.

    Results show further that organizations apply these roles to balance the complexity and dynamics of their environment. Low performing organizations show a lack of adaptability to situational changes, which leads to an imbalance in their ability to handle product, time and complexity requirements from their clients.

  • Communication of Information Technology Project Sponsors and Managers in Buyer-Seller Relationships
  • Communication is frequently identified in the literature as a major factor impacting Information Technology (IT) project failure. The importance of communication is amplified in buyer - seller relationships through the long-term impact of project failures on the future business of IT vendors with their customers.

    The formal communication between IT project sponsors from buyer firms and project managers from IT vendor firms within business to business markets is investigated through this study. Typical communication patterns between project sponsor and manager in high and low performing projects are identified. The antecedents of these patterns are assessed and the effectiveness of project sponsor - manager communication investigated. A multi-method approach is used with a quantitative analysis of a worldwide survey with 200 responses, followed by a qualitative analysis of three interviews with pairs of project sponsor and manager, each pair from the same project.

    Results show that project sponsors expect more analytic and verbal communication from project managers. A model shows the development from frequent informal communication to formal communication between project managers and sponsors. A second model shows how communication in high performing projects is determined by the level of collaboration between project managers and sponsors, as well as the degree of structure in project execution. Effectiveness of project sponsor and manager communication is found to be decreased through written statements about recent achievements, and increased through face-to-face meetings of the parties. A series of recommendations is provided to improve project sponsor - manager communication.

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