My background in Project Management was acquired and developed in the private sector, specifically in the pharmaceutical sector during which I obtained my PMP credential. When I started working in capacity building and delivering training and coaching in Project Management, Risk management was one of my favorite topics, and still is.
I was able to make learners see Risk management in a totally new way by using storytelling to explain what Risk Management is and its importance. The feedback I received only confirmed that Risk Management is not a high priority for organizations, even if they say so.
Common feedback revolves around “if I have known this before we could have avoided so and so“, or “Now I understand why we keep having problems: because we don’t really do risk management.“ This feedback was from people working in the private sector who are supposedly very attentive to risks. Later on, I obtained my PMD certificates, and started doing capacity building for the Development sector.
At the beginning I used to rely heavily on the Body of Knowledge accompanying the PMP credential when explaining Risk Management. However, it became apparent that this was way too much and too heavy and too early for those working in NGOs and INGOs. I always knew that risk management for many organizations working in the private sector was a side-kick , except for the financial risks aspect, but I was stunned to see that Risk Management , in it basics , is not even on he radar of INGOs and NGO , let alone CBOs
The prevalent understanding of risks is that organizations do identify risks and deal with them; however, what they predominantly refer to are the Assumptions in the Logframe and Risks related to Security in addition to the “Do No Harm” notion. One may be surprised that I have included INGOs, but it is a reality that I have seen and I am still seeing today.
The introduction of the Project DPro Guide and related credentials did positively contribute to increase the profile, and the importance of Project Risk Management grew as more organizations and individuals got introduced to the best practices contained in it. Today I see more organizations addressing project risks beyond the usual “Cliches”.
One of the challenges facing organizations and individuals is to better understand what constitutes a “Risk“, and differentiate between “Cause” of risk and a risk. Many of the risks identified relate to delay of funds and of approvals as risks to consider, and organizations do not conduct a comprehensive risk identification and analysis to identify other high probability high impact risks.
Many people leave the ”Known unknown“ to be managed as “Unknown Unknown“, leading the project to stuffer changes and delays that could have been mitigated if not even prevented early on.
It is crucial that organizations and individuals working in the development sector increase the depth and breadth of their understanding and knowledge, and more importantly the practice, of Project Risk Management.
9th February 2021
(updated 10th January 2021)
Published by Oliver Carrick
My name is Cecília, I am a project manager and advertising professional. During my career I had the opportunity to join the two areas and work as a project manager in advertising companies, which showed me the peculiarities of applying project management in spaces that are essentially creative.
“Research results on a sample of 139 software development projects show that individual creativity is linked to the quality of the team decision-making process and the team climate. Results also show that the managers should recognize the value of creative individuals as the basic source of competitive advantage and success” (Açıkgöz & Günsel, 2016).
Creativity can be defined as creating something new or creating a different way of doing something. In practice, creativity is largely responsible for bringing value to products and services, whether through innovation, branding, or storytelling. Innovation is an important point that involves creativity and it’s fundamental today. Internet and globalization made innovation essential for any brand or company.
But how do projects work in the creative industry? As the possibilities in the creative industry are diverse, so are projects. As well as the cultures in which each of these projects will be inserted will also be. So, how to manage such projects can seem like a big challenge in traditional project management perspectives.
In the creative environment, the plastering of the team and processes can be a way to “break” the creation. It is necessary to give freedom for the team to create, but in an organized way so that the objectives can be achieved. Traditional project management, therefore, is not usually applied in its entirety to projects in the creative industry, but the project manager needs to have solid knowledge bases in the area in order to understand the best way to guide his team.
Traditional project management is generally applied to projects well known to the company and the team, where similar projects have often been carried out previously. In other words, they are usually projects without surprises, with predictable objectives and results, which is not always possible in creative industries.“The creative industry is characterized by the absence of a tangible product.” (Dejan, 2017)
“Agile project management is applied to projects where goals are clearly defined, but the way they come to them is unclear.” (Dejan, 2017)
Most creative organizations today use Agile project management. This is because this kind of management was created exactly in the midst of innovation projects, in the midst of uncertain contexts. Therefore, its fundamentals are extremely applicable in the area. Still, not all projects fit the standards of agile management perfectly.
It is very common to see hybrid project management being applied in creative industries. This is because it is essential that project management is aligned with the company’s organizational culture and the type of project it is managing. The fundamentals of different methodologies need to be understood for better adaptation within the given context.
The dynamic and unpredictable nature of the industry imposes the need for different approaches. For a team to have autonomy it is necessary that the manager has confidence in the professionals and that they are prepared for the challenges.
For environments that require creativity and innovation, it is also necessary to have creativity to manage the projects, deeply understanding the company’s culture, the way the team works, the expected results, who are the stakeholders and the whole context involved: projects must be flexible and open to change.
Açıkgöz, A., & Günsel, A. (2016). Individual Creativity and Team Climate in Software Development Projects: The Mediating Role of Team Decision Processes.
Creativity and Innovation Management, 25(4), 445-463
Dejan Petrović1, Vesna Milićević2, Adam Sofronijević3 (2017). APPLICATION OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN CREATIVE INDUSTRY. European Project Management Journal, Volume 7.
Cecília Morales is an advertising professional, postgraduate in marketing and project manager. She currently works as an account manager at a Brazilian agency, PM4NGOs digital marketing analyst and provides project management consultancy. Passionate about both areas, she sees project management as a way to improve creative industries.
29th January 2021
(updated 29th January 2021)
Published by Oliver Carrick
Welcome to the new series of posts for Project DPro+ members on the subject of Leadership.
As the Covid-19 crisis has developed, Leadership has been championed as one of the key responses for Project Managers and development sector professionals alike.
In this series of articles, we will consider what it means to be a manager compared to the significance of being a leader, look at some key leadership traits, and think about leadership in adversity, before honing in on leadership in the Project Management discipline.
We’ll begin with a look at leadership lessons gained during the Covid-19 crisis. These lessons were discussed by Kanni Wignaraja on the UNDP website. The six lessons Wignaraja identifies are:
Being optimistic. Despite the great challenges and immense negativity surrounding our lives in the last year, a key aspect of leadership during the Covid-19 crisis has been to retain hope and positive thinking while offering solutions and strategies going forward.
Being agile to changing messages and context. In times of crisis, leaders must continue to make decisions even though the landscape is continually evolving and new information coming to light can make recent decision-making processes obsolete. We must be aware of this, and be agile enough to respond to our context as it develops.
Making tough choices quickly. Embracing change, however tough those changes may be, is an inherent part of coping with crises such as Covid-19. When it becomes apparent that tough decisions are required, we need to be decisive and move on.
Protecting people. Whatever the decisions that must be taken, we must make sure to act in a way which is consistent with our values and principles. Protecting people’s dignities and rights is important to the integrity of leaders, and must often now be done online.
Purpose over plan. While we may have to change our plans due to emerging realities and information, teams will remain cohesive if they stick to their overall purpose.
Remembering that people are human. The mental health toll wreaked by the Covid-19 crisis is yet to be fully understood. The final leadership lesson is to recognize that everyone, no matter who they are, has been living with a particular set of stresses and strains over the last twelve months. We may not be able to see or appreciate what people have been going through, but those pressures will almost certainly be there.
In the next article, we’ll take a step back to consider how the roles of leader and manager differ.
9th January 2021
(updated 9th January 2021)
Published by Oliver Carrick
Africa is proliferating in terms of population; the continent’s population has grown significantly over the years, increasing on average by 2.53 per cent annually between 1950 and 2015 and currently stands at 1.340 billion. Based on recent projections, the continent’s population is expected to grow from its current state of 1.340 billion in 2020 to 2.44 billion in 2050. Most African’s still live in rural areas, the estimate currently stands at 60 per cent, but the rate of migration from rural areas to the urban areas is increasing at an unprecedented rate. It has been stated that over 40,000 people leave the rural areas to the urban centres daily; these also have become a significant challenge across the continent of Africa. Data shows that the rate of urbanization between 2000 and 2015 was at an average of 3.5 per cent; this makes it the highest globally. If the current urbanization trend continues, unabated the share of Africa’s urban population is predicted to surpass 50 per cent by 2037 .
Africa also has the youngest population of all the continents of the world. The young people of Africa could become either an advantage or a disadvantage, a young population such as those seen across African countries could quickly become a ticking time bomb if not adequately engaged, but then also with such young demography, Africa can harness their strengths to develop economically. Currently, these young populations are driving an urgent need for affordable housing, access to meaningful work and food .
Across the globe, thriving cities are significant drivers of economic development, and the quality of the housing stock in these areas have a long-term impact on any form of comprehensive development. With that in mind, governments across Africa have become increasingly puzzled with not just the challenge of providing affordable housing in the urban centres but also coming up with initiatives that will make the rural areas also attractive, to keep the level of rural-urban migration low .
Housing Deficits in Africa
The rate of rural-urban migration and a lack of proper planning have created a vast housing deficit across Africa; the deficit is the difference between the number of households and the number of permanent dwellings. Because of the lack of data across the African continent information on the most accurate numbers may not be readily available, however governments across Africa have released various estimates to show the housing backlog for their countries .
The housing deficit in Africa, across the 54 countries stand at an estimated 52 million housing units . The table above reveals a spectrum in housing delivery across Africa. Nigeria is at the top, with a larger population than most African countries, the figures are not surprising, what can be surprising is that fact, that the figure of 17 million housing deficit has been cited since 2010, some stakeholders think that the numbers should be more and have given estimates of around 20 million units. Whatever the case, the housing deficit in Nigeria, requires a more focused approach on housing delivery if the housing deficit is to experience any form of decline in the coming years. .
Overall, the housing deficit across Africa and the urbanization rate requires a fundamental change in the housing sector. If current trends continue, we expect the population across Africa to continue to increase along with the housing deficits, leaving governments across Africa without a solution on how to tackle the crisis.
As African cities experience rapid growths, not just in terms of population but also economically, investors are keen on playing a part and harnessing the opportunities these growths present. The potential impact of investment in housing is noticeable, with the figures of the housing deficit presented from 10 countries of the 54 on the African continent. Affordable housing remains a significant challenge for all stakeholders in the housing value chain. Housing affordability is a function of three things: household income, the price of the house, and the terms of the finance. There is the issue of finance; how can the housing backlog be financed, with the limited resources on the African continent. Then there is the issue of construction; what is the best technology to deploy to achieve high productivity across the entire housing value chain. Though these challenges seem daunting, for investors, it presents an opportunity on which area to participate in housing delivery on the African continent .
There is increasing investors interest in the housing market across Africa, with an increasing number of funds set up to pursue housing projects, with collaboration between international and local industry players. However, the current approach seems to be counterproductive, as most investors continue to focus on the high-end housing market, this inadequate market entry approach has resulted in empty apartment buildings across the continent, despite the huge housing backlog. The affordable housing markets present an immense opportunity for both local and international players to make a profit as well as to bring prosperity to the aspiring sparse African population.
Across Africa, governments continue to make efforts to solve the housing challenge and are making invests in the sector. Though commendable, without the right partnership, the right results will not be achieved. For example, in Zimbabwe, the government is taking strides to reduce the housing deficits through the roadmap created by Infrastructure Development Bank in Zimbabwe (IDBZ) to raise US$ 100 million for affordable housing across the entire country. In Kenya, the government launched a project to increase the production of Appropriate Building Materials (ABMT) to aid the construction of houses at a lower cost. The government is convinced that the project if successful, will lower the cost of construction, create a safe and more environmentally friendly house, and generally result in higher quality construction. Efforts like these show that governments across Africa understand the need to be deliberate about solving the housing crisis .
The private sector and multinational companies are not left out, in May 2019, the IFC, Chinese Multinational Construction and Engineering Company along with CITIC launched a US$ 300 million investment platform, the goal is to increase the affordable housing stock in various African countries. The parties believe that collaboration of this type will go a long way to stimulate other stakeholders in the industry to make similar moves. The scheme will partner with local developers and provide long-term capital to construct 30,000 houses over the next five years. The impact of the project is estimated to result in the recreation of 150,000 new jobs across Africa .
Shelter Afrique another housing development financier in Africa has signed an MOU with Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter (TCIS). The agreement will see TCIS partner with Shelter Afrique in raising capital for affordable housing across 44 African countries. The partnership will focus on providing housing loans to low-income earners in the target countries .
 Bah E.M., Faye I., Geh Z.F. (2018) The Housing Sector in Africa: Setting the Scene. In: Housing Market Dynamics in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, London
 ECA, African Union Commission and UNFPA, “Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development beyond 2014” (2014)
 ECA, Industrializing through trade: economic report on Africa (Addis Ababa, 2015).
 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa The Demographic Profile of African Countries (March 2016).
 Beck, T., M. Munzele, I. Faye, and T. Triki. 2011. Financing Africa: Through the Crisis and Beyond. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.
 Buckley, R., L. Chiquier, and M. Lea. 2009. Housing Finance and the Economy. In Housing Finance Policy in Emerging Markets, ed. L. Chiquier and M. Lea. Washington, DC: World Bank.
 CAHF. Housing Finance in Africa: A review of Africa’s housing finance markets (2019) CAHF Publications
The “How to” guides are booklets that present guidance and tips to develop some of the Project DPro and Program DPro tools. Some of the activities related to the project/program management routine are also included in the “How To” collection.
If you have an idea for a “How to” guide or you would like to write one, please contact our team and share your experience.
14th September 2020
(updated 14th September 2020)
Published by Oliver Carrick
Introducing FMD Pro!
FMD Pro, or Financial Management for Development and Humanitarian Professionals, is a member of the DPro family. Due to the recent handover of FMD Pro to PM4NGOs, this site will begin to publish information and materials related to FMD Pro.
Here, we introduce FMD Pro to our members who are not currently FMD Pro certified, or with little previous knowledge of FMD Pro.
FMD Pro: Who is it for and why should I become certified?
The FMD Pro Guide benefits members of the project team who are not finance specialists or experts. Such people include project administrators, coordinators and managers.
You do not need to be an accountant to use FMD Pro, but all projects have systems and processes which must complement and integrate with the financial management performed at a higher organizational level.
Knowledge of Financial management is therefore essential for anyone engaged with project administration and management in the development and humanitarian sectors.
The Four Building Blocks of financial management
FMD Pro centers around the following four important elements of financial management in the project context:
Each section of the guide has explanations, procedures, and tools for these important building blocks.
CATVISA: The Seven Principles of Financial Management
Consider your current financial processes against the seven principles of financial management, and decide how weak or strong those processes are. The seven principles of financial management can be remembered using the mnemonic CATVISA:
There are several ways in which you can learn more about FMD Pro, but why not start by downloading the Guide.
This report – the third in the Golden Thread series – is published at a time where many of the certainties in place when this research was conducted no longer exist. At the time of writing, the coronavirus looks like it will have a long tail of implications.
APM’s The Golden Thread research sought to identify the size and contribution of projects and project management to the UK economy and society. Following highly positive feedback and numerous requests for further information particularly for regionaland sectorial detail, APM commissioned PwC Research to undertake a second phase to build on the original study.
Our attention turns to some of the sectors where project management skills are increasingly being utilised to run projects more effectively, efficiently and professionally.
This research focuses on three growth areas for project management, which APM believes deserve specific attention as sectors where the contribution of project management has been overlooked or lacks specific data or attention.
The catchwords currently on people’s lips encapsulating effective approaches to managing in the Covid-19 era and beyond include resilience and agile. Add to that list “Blended.”
Who is the Blended Project Manager and what does it mean?
Put simply, Blended means the ability to combine different working practices into a cohesive whole. Before coronavirus, many managers relied on conducting their business in a certain manner, for instance, face-to-face meetings and negotiations etc. The Covid-19 crisis has forced people into different behavior, such as performing those meetings online. For many this was a stop-gap to be pursued only for as long as lockdown is necessary.
The spirit of Blended means embracing online working practices as part of a permanent working solution. Initially, such a strategy is needed as the world works its way towards the new normality. The smartest organizations, however, will not consider this as a step towards the work practices of old. Rather, they will use the learning experience to think about how face-to-face and online can be Blended in order to create enhanced working practices.
Viewed from this perspective, blending the online with the traditional is about getting the best from both worlds to create more flexible and adaptable working practices. This is not simply a case of deciding the modality (face-to-face, online) of meetings, but considering how different media combine to produce the perfect response to the changing world around us.
Such decisions often involving contrasting choices:
Written or Oral
Formal or Informal
Instant or Delayed messaging
Digital or Paper-and-pencil
Push or Pull communication
Group or Pairs
Take some time to think about your organization and how it can blend some of these choices to maximize effectiveness. What changes have worked particularly well during the months of lockdown? Some aspects of managing online may have worked surprisingly well! By contemplating exit from lockdown as a move to the future instead of a regression to the past you will become a Blended Project Manager.