Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Project Management in Professional Bodies

Well, back from my break and ready to go again.

Several years ago I was involved in the introduction of project management approaches across an organisation.

The idea made a lot of apparent sense. Much of the work of the organisation, a significant professional body, was in fact project based. Application of structured project management approaches should improve efficiency at project level, while also making the organisation's work more transparent and accountable.

The move failed. There were significant short term gains, but application collapsed because the transparency and accountability created came to be seen as a threat to the authority and autonomy of the organisation's governing bodies.

Part of the problem here lay in the fact that many "decisions" were not in fact decisions at all. Some reflected political and professional interplay within the profession and were really markers of that interplay. Others fell in the "it seemed a good idea at the time" class.

The governing bodies were quite comfortable with all this because the process accommodated all the personal, political and professional differences to be found in any profession. The introduction of project management approaches failed because the transparency it created interfered with the internal political processes.

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