Projects in Uncontrolled Environments

Peter Marlow talks about the unique challenges of managing projects within the humanitarian and development sector. He also discusses how Project DPro, a training and certification program that celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer, is making a huge difference.
He explains why it is important, how it can be put into practice and how you can help.
Joy Gumz: “Operations keep lights on, strategy gives light at the end, but project management is what propels the organization forward.”
As Douglas Adams may have said, Overseas Aid can be huge, really big. For example, the UK government spent PS14bn public money in 2019 on foreign aid. It has committed to spending 0.7% of its GDP annually on aid. This is almost one Crossrail per annum. It is part of a larger picture of public and private donations that are used to improve the lives people in the developing world.
A large portion of this investment is invested directly or indirectly in projects managed by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities.
They have project managers and teams that manage many of these same challenges as all project managers: delivering on-time, within budget, and on-scope.
However, the context is different. They might be responsible for food distribution in refugee camps, helping farmers access markets, helping conflict-affected populations, or improving the lives of people in slums. They are managing Projects in Uncontrolled Environments (not like PRINCE2).
Given these challenges, development organisations tend to focus on the development-humanitarian-specific areas of their projects and recruit specialists with an appropriate in-depth technical knowledge such as health or water and sanitation.
They will then be required to manage projects and lead teams, even though they may lack experience or skills in project management. Project management is often variable and success depends more on luck than on judgment.
There are always new ways to reinvent wheels. It is not possible to create a culture of improvement that embeds good practice. Managers are reluctant to admit their mistakes, as this could lead to the loss or funding. Learning opportunities are often missed.
Despite best intentions, many projects fail to deliver. A number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Oxfam, Care and World Vision, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, Plan International, and Care, asked LINGOs (now part Humentum) to create sector-appropriate and comprehensive project management learning materials for NGO’s.
The result was the Guide to Project Management for Development for Professionals, which was launched in 2010 in multiple languages and includes free online learning tools.
To administer the certification, a new NGO called PM4NGOs was created. APMG also agreed to offer the online exams. To align with the new Program DPro Guide, a revised second edition was published in March 2020. It was renamed Project DPro.
We are proud to have reached 30,000 international development workers in the last ten years. There are many more. Many of them work in their local communities for small, local charities.
Many of them are volunteers. One example would be a women’s group in a slum, or a cooperative of farmers. We want to reach as many people as we can to help them reap the rewards of better project management.
We offer learning materials and the Project DPro Guide for free. These materials have been accessed by thousands, but many people also want to take the Project DPro certification.
You can help. We are crowdfunding to raise funds for scholarships to support staff from loca

Author: Kody