"Saving The World With Project Management" from the July 2011 Issue of PM Network

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"Saving The World With Project Management" from the July 2011 Issue of PM Network

  1. 1. 24 PM NETWORK july 2011 WWW.PMI.ORG
  2. 2. Savingthe World by Sarah Fister Gale * illustration by ian whadcockWith Project Management Not-for-profits can do good— for the world and their own ROI—by increasing transparency and accountability. july 2011 PM NETWORK 25
  3. 3. ot-for-profit organizations severely limit their ability to thrive, are often created by a group says Kim Sutton, director of FSI (The of passionate people devoted Foundation for Social Improvement), a to a good cause. And while London, England-based not-for-profit they may have the ambition group that helps small U.K. charities to help those in need, they expand their fundraising skills. “They often lack the business knowl- want to accomplish something, but edge necessary to transform pas- they often lack the business structure sion into a successful portfolio they need to accomplish their goals.” of projects that make the most of FSI offers consulting and training frequently limited funds. courses, including a program on project While the not-for-profit sector management. “Project management fits may seem far removed from the our vision of helping these organiza- corporate realm, project managers tions become more efficient,” she says. can learn a lot from their for-profit In the course, instructors teach not- counterparts. for-profit groups how to create a project “Running a not-for-profit is not that plan, set goals, and create a budget and different than the for-profit world,” schedule. says Paul R. Williams, PMP, executive Even a simple project plan can help director of the American Institute for smaller teams stay focused on what they Innovation Excellence, a not-for-profit are trying to accomplish and enable organization dedicated to developing them to do more in less time, Ms. Sut- and sharing best practices in innova- ton says. “And it deters the haphazard tion management based in De Pere, approach that some small organizations Wisconsin, USA. “You need short-, have of doing a little of this and a little medium- and long-term goals,” he says. of that.” “You need to manage resources and Project management techniques also measure results. Project management is allow organizations to assess the impact a part of all of that.” of their efforts. When Ms. Sutton begins working with a charity, her first One Size Fits All step is to review a recent fundraising Many smaller organizations see project project and score it based on its ROI. management as too complex for what “There can be a lot of burst bubbles they are trying to accomplish—but at the end of that conversation,” she they’re missing the big picture. admits, noting that after the cost of “Project management is what you the event is subtracted from total gains, make of it,” Mr. Williams says. “You many of these projects return far less take the pieces that work for you and than the group expected. scale it up or down to meet your needs.” “They think that because it gave Not-for-profit organizations that them exposure it was worth the effort, don’t use formal methodologies for but that’s not the only objective,” planning projects or measuring ROI she says. “As a not-for-profit, you’ve A good resource-tracking system gives you a story to tell. That’s how you secure continuing support. —Tue Nguyen, PhD, Institute for OneWorld Health, South San Francisco, California, USA26 PM NETWORK july 2011 WWW.PMI.ORG
  4. 4. >>In for the Long HaulProject management strategies enable not- have the necessary skills and resources.for-profit teams to proactively address key Planeterra is planning to hire and trainissues and plan for long-term sustainable new local project managers in Thailand,growth. Peru and Costa Rica, working with the Gap Planeterra, a not-for-profit sustainable Adventures global team, a sustainability-tourism organization, recently completed minded travel company that established thean in-depth strategic planning session to not-for-profit.support a broader goal to move away from “Many of the people in these communi-individual one-off projects that are not ties have never written a grant or manageddeveloped with the larger goals and needs a business,” Ms. Wood says. “Rather thanof the regions in mind. demand that they meet sophisticated crite- “The focus now is helping empower ria, our project managers will assist themlocal people to develop their communities, for the first year to be sure they can achieveconserve cultures, and create a humane their goals.”and supportive system for their endeav- The transformation is still being rolledors based on a steady cycle of giving and out, though the strategic planning processinvestment,” says Megan Epler Wood, the alone has been tremendously valuable toToronto, Ontario, Canada-based organiza- the team, Ms. Wood attests.tion’s executive director. “It helped us take a step back and see Ms. Wood and her team seek out sus- where we want to go and how to proceed,”tainable business opportunities that deliver she says. “That perspective allowed usongoing economic and social value, such as to set objective goals based on what wea project to launch a community center in believe is possible.”Siem Reap, Cambodia that provides voca- For the first time, Ms. Wood says, rathertional training in cooking and hospitality to than reacting to events and needs, theyoung people in the surrounding area, or foundation can be proactive. Along withan initiative to create a women’s weaving targeting long-term sustainable projects,co-op in the village of Ccaccaccollo, Peru. Planeterra plans to build up an ongoing “Our first step was developing the stra- fund for disaster relief.tegic plan,” Ms. Wood says. That included “Reacting to crises after they occur iscreating a new process for assessing the debilitating timewise,” she notes. “Having asustainability potential of initiatives, and sustainable fund means the resources willdetermining whether the project leaders be there as they are needed.”got a responsibility to your trustees to “Quantifiable measures prove projectdeliver the best ROI with the resources success.”you’ve got.” By building a plan that clearly defines Oversight:the goals of the project, organizations The Best Medicinecan measure if they have achieved their One of the biggest challenges for not-objectives. Whether they are attempt- for-profits is securing funding. Projecting to sign up 100 volunteers or donate management processes are especially£1,000 worth of food to the needy, useful in communicating with donorsthese metrics make it much easier to who want to see where their money isdetermine what they’ve accomplished going.and to communicate those achievements “If you can show that you haveto their benefactors, Ms. Sutton says. a disciplined approach to executing july 2011 PM NETWORK 27
  5. 5. projects in the field, donors will know port, notes Tue Nguyen, PhD, vice that their money is not being wasted,” president of research and pre-clinical Mr. Williams says. “Show them a road development and leader of the diar- map and a timeline, and it will give rheal diseases program at the Institute them the confidence to invest in you.” for OneWorld Health. The South San Having a project management pro- Francisco, California, USA-based not- cess that tracks where funds come from for-profit pharmaceutical organization and how they are being used to sup- develops new medicines for children port your goals also ensures the trust in developing countries with infectious of funders and their continued sup- diseases. One of the best ways to secure fund- ing is to show off successes. “A good resource-tracking system gives you a story to tell,” he says. “That’s how you secure continuing support.” Project management methodology helps organizations make better use of limited resources, and it allows them to funnel new funds toward their most successful projects, notes Amy Steets, program manager at Vitamin Angels, a Santa Barbara, California, USA-based not-for-profit that works to reduce child mortality worldwide by providing essential nutrients to the needy. “Project management is extremely important to us,” she says. “You can’t run an effective project without man- aging it and measuring whether you accomplished what you set out to accomplish.” One of the most critical tasks in her projects is vetting the local not-for- profit organizations that will distribute the vitamins. The groups submit grant proposals to Vitamin Angels, defining a specific target population, how they will reach it and the number of children >>A Helping Hand they expect to help. The groups that are selected must The PMI Educational Foundation helps report progress annually, including the bring the benefits and the power of proj- number of doses given and how those numbers compare to original goals. ect management to local communities If the local groups struggle to meet and to the farthest reaches of the world their targets, Ms. Steets connects them for social good. The foundation assists with more successful organizations or shares marketing ideas, such as reach- not-for-profit organizations by offering ing out to younger sibling populations training, tools and methodologies, and through schools and partnering with other community services providers. project management maturity resources. “We understand that it’s hard to Find out more at PMI.org/PMIEF. manage these projects at the field level,28 PM NETWORK july 2011 WWW.PMI.ORG
  6. 6. so we try to assist them as much as wecan,” she says. Project Managing projects from afar,though, poses problems. management “The biggest weakness a lot of not-for-profit organizations face is how to is extremelyensure what’s supposed to happen inthe field is really happening,” Ms. Steets important to us.says. To improve oversight in more remote You can’t run anareas, her organization is in the processof building a more robust monitor- effective project without managinging and evaluation component into itsprogram. Developing this capacity can beexpensive, but that added accountabil- it and measuringity brings value to the project and the The group recently finished phaseorganization, Ms. Steets says. one of the project, working with 18 whether you “Part of our project management companies and approximately 1,500process is determining whether we are vehicles. Its final benchmark measure accomplished whatusing the resources given to us to their showed the companies averaged a 12utmost potential,” she explains. It also enables corporate sponsors percent drop in fuel use and an 8 per- cent fuel efficiency gain. That’s a sav- you set out toto see the value of their donation andbroadcast those achievements to their ings of 65,000 liters (17,171 gallons) of gas, according to Dr. Pearse, who is also accomplish.own stakeholders, says Merrin Pearse, the owner of Coordinate4u, a sustain- —Amy Steets, Vitamin Angels, Santa Barbara,PhD, senior environmental officer at ability consultancy in Hong Kong. California, USAFriends of the Earth (HK), a not-for- “Our ultimate goal is to changeprofit environmental organization in the mindset of both individuals andHong Kong. corporate leaders towards a sustainable environment,” he says. By measuringMeasuring Success the impact on fuel use and efficiency,That transparency and accountability Friends of the Earth can directly cor-are vital components of Friends of the relate the benefits of its training to posi-Earth’s recent project in which team tive environmental and financial results.members worked with local businesses Those numbers also create a greatto reduce the carbon impact of their selling point that Friends of the Earthvehicle fleets. and its corporate sponsor for the proj- At each company, the team bench- ect, Standard Chartered Bank, can sharemarks the fuel use of the existing fleet with constituents.over one month and then holds a Metrics help demonstrate that proj-workshop for all drivers and relevant ects correspond to organizational goals.personnel on how to reduce fuel use. “The bank wants to be aligned withDrivers are trained to not accelerate or projects that show it is taking environ-break heavily, not to idle, to park in the mental initiative and creating financialshade and to take more direct routes. savings, and Friends of the Earth wantsAll organizational staff are also asked to to encourage change,” Dr. Pearse says.consider whether they can take public By measuring the impact of theirtransportation instead of using com- projects, not-for-profit organizationspany vehicles, and after the seminar is can prove results and show how farcomplete, team members measure fuel even a little project managementuse over the ensuing month. training can go. PM july 2011 PM NETWORK 29

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