Project Managers Without Borders

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This blog provides project management content and tools for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our objective is to inspire project managers to volunteer and make a positive difference in the world through project management.

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Aliki Courmanopoulos
Deanna Landers
Romiya Barry
Marisa Silva
Jeffrey Cox
Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton
Veroni Brussen

Past Contributers:

Chelsa Dornian
Tony Van Krieken
Mario Trentim

Recent Posts

Millennials: Your Best Resources for Project Management in the World of NGOs

The Opportunity in Ambiguity

Increase NGO Value Through Project Closure

When the Only Constant is Change: Managing Projects in a World of Changing Stakeholders

Accra Flooding Initiative: A Real-Life Example of PMWB at Work

Viewing Posts by Tony Van Krieken

Project Maturity for NGOs

In my previous blog entry, ”When you are making the World a Better Place, Who Has Time for Paperwork?, the blog provided a framework that improves the chance that a project delivers on-time, on-budget, and actually meets the needs and expectations of the organization’s stakeholders. This oversight can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an organization’s strategic objectives and goals.

What are the levels and characteristics of Project Management Maturity?

  • Level 1: Initial Process.
    • The organization and project management is in a knee-jerk state.
  • Level 2: Structured Process and Standards.
    • Concept of project management is being grasped by the organization. Local experts may be present.
  • Level 3: Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process.
    • The organization is structured throughout its processes and the projects are carried out via standardized, repeatable Delivery Frameworks.
  • Level 4: Managing Processes.
    • Project management is a key delivery mechanism of change. Improving delivery is accomplished through measurement and the use of performance key indicators.
  • Level 5: Optimizing Process.
    • Continuous improvement is the ongoing motto through the use of Project management, small changes leading to larger changes in the future. Key performance indicators on effectiveness and efficiency monitored and achievable. The organization and projects follows the continuous improvement.

How to measure the progress to maturity?

The best means to measure this progress is through the following performance measures as Mohammed Abo Ramadan (2015) indicates the following table:

Table 1: Summary of the performance measures in NGOs literature

Performance Measures

Description

Fundraising efficiency

The ability of an NGO to access to funding.

Financial transparency

Preparing reports and submitting them to the concerned stakeholders.

Programs/Projects financial efficiency

The best use of the funds or financial resources to achieve the required or the planned outputs.

Programs/Projects non-financial efficiency

The best use of the non-financial resources to achieve the required or the planned outputs.

Outcomes performance (effectiveness)

To what extent have the outcomes of an NGO’s program been achieved?

Impact performance

The long-term consequences of an NGO’s program including positive or negative effects.

Partnership

The level of networking with partners, their relevance and satisfaction.

Quality

The quality of services provided by an NGO.

How does a NGO increase its maturity through the use of Project Management?

Tools exist on the website in which you can use:

http://www.iil.com/pm/kpmmm/kerzner_five_levels.asp

http://www.pmsolutions.com/resources/view/what-is-the-project-management-maturity-model/

http://www.pmi.org/learning/library/pmo-maturity-assessment-model-6079

Use the above tools to take project management maturity snapshots of your organization. Take another maturity snapshot six months later. Compare snapshots to one another to determine which project management practices have demonstrated an increasing level of project management maturity and which areas need further work. Work on those areas and in short time Level 4 and Level 5 is achieved.

Another maturity tool comes from the financial sector. Improving the financial maturity level within the organization is the backbone to Project Management Maturity. The United Kingdom National Audit office has developed a financial management maturity model (https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/financial_management_maturity_model.pdf). The model has similarities characteristics to the Project Management Maturity Model.

Why?

Project Maturity is really the NGO being organized and mature in its operations, strategies, and future directions. Maturity can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an organization’s strategic objectives and goals.

What other benefits have you noticed (as a PM or as an NGO) Project Management provides to the Non-Profit sector? What kinds of challenges does one face in the Non-Profit world that you would never see in private or public sector industries? Chime in the comments section below!

Posted by Tony Van Krieken on: October 05, 2016 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

When you are making the World a Better Place, Who Has Time for Paperwork?

Combining creative and analytical skills helps NGOs' project performance!

NGO (Non-Government Organization) and NPO (Non-Profit Organization) Founders take pride in creating organizations that address various social justice issues, such as establishing green environment, sourcing micro financing for small businesses, or providing educational opportunities for girl-children. Their energy, skill, and creativity works in government, local agencies, and grassroots movements to make the dream a reality. But energy and passion needs to be balanced with rigorous planning, organization, and management. This is where a Project Management skill set can step in.

Here are the top 3 reasons why your NPO organizations should care about Project Management.

#1 - You only get one chance to make a good first impression

 

Make it count!

In today’s world, there are several non-profit organization options out there for almost every charitable goal imaginable. With tool sets like Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GreatNonprofits.org at their disposal, the average donator is much more discerning with who they give their money to. Keeping in mind that approximately 39% of (IT) projects fail, it is in the best interest of any non-profit organization to limit the possibility of project failure and ensure the people who provide funding maintain confidence in the organization’s ability to deliver on their promises.

Since poor project management process is one of the main reasons projects fail, it makes sense to invest in project management oversight to mitigate this issue before it derails your project and undermines the confidence of your donors and stakeholders.

#2 - Money does not grow on trees

Can’t Grow a Money Tree - Matt Harris - CC BY-NC

Closely related to #1, we have to remember that money is finite and this is especially true in the non-profit sector. For IT projects, the average cost overrun is 43% and a whopping 71% of projects come in over budget (est. waste in the US alone: $55 billion per year). PM processes help to mitigate these issues by a strong focus on Project Planning, managing scope creep, tracking and measuring progress, and keeping stakeholders engaged and informed throughout delivery. This ensures that *what* needs to get done is directly tied to *how* are we going to get there: PM oversight can help provide the tactical approach to achieve the NGO's strategic objectives.

#3 - Haste Makes Waste

According to a KPMG Global survey, short-term projects (<1 year) are more likely to fail than those of longer durations. While one’s intuition might be that a short-term project is easy and should not be additionally burdened with administrative and management overhead (or costs!); it is these projects that are at most risk. When we rush projects or skimp on delivery methodology, we increase the risk of failure. Projects - especially shorter ones - benefit from good planning, well-defined requirements, schedule management, and cost control. In the non-profit world, there is little margin for waste: especially if you are to remain appealing to your donor base. From this perspective, Project Management oversight is a smart investment.

While Project Management is perceived as a lot of forms, paperwork, and administrative burden, in reality, it can provide invaluable returns for an NGO (Non-Profit Organization). By increasing the chance that a project delivers on-time, on-budget, and actually meets the needs and expectations of the organization's stakeholders, this oversight can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an Organization’s strategic objectives and goals.

What other benefits have you noticed (as a PM or as an NGO) Project Management provides to the Non-Profit sector? What kinds of challenges does one face in the Non-Profit world that you would never see in private or public sector industries? Chime in the comments section below!

Posted by Tony Van Krieken on: August 18, 2016 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
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