As the tough economic times seem to be receding at last, the very attributes that have always made project management so important are even more important in order to continue to deliver projects efficiently but also to be able to accurately advise on the best projects to pursue with a realistic view of the risks involved. Project management procedures also ensure adequate resources are available and are assigned to new projects; of particular importance to companies that have reduced their staff numbers over recent years.
So good project management provides the structure that ensures the investment necessary to take advantage of a growing economy delivers the anticipated benefits. It will ensure each project fits the corporate strategy for growth, that the risks associated with the investment are fully understood and that the necessary resources (human and financial) are available to complete the project.
In this current post-recession era businesses should take heed of mistakes that whole industries have made in the past. For instance, the ship building industry in many countries, including the UK, failed to invest in new manufacturing processes so that now, as it looks like a new boom era for the shipbuilding industry is beginning, it is unlikely that the UK ship-building industry will ever regain its world standing.
Since ships are extremely expensive, the industry has always risen and fallen as economies have done so. In recessions, freight rates fall so new ships are not economically viable but that reverses in periods of growth. In the USA there is currently a ship-building boom unlike anything seen since the 1970s ("Boom in energy production sends US shipyards into overdrive").
The difference between the current fortunes of the UK and US ship-building industries is a classic case of where complacency in a post-recession era can lead to the decline of a business or industry at the point where it should be poised for growth.
Project managers should take note of this tale if they want to see their profession leading growth in their organisations in the coming years. Any company enjoying short-term profits as a result of economic growth without investment in improving processes and productivity would do well to learn a lesson from the past and invest wisely in projects that will ensure a long-term future.
Of course, the question remains as to whether project management, or more accurately project managers, have what it takes to drive their organisations in the right direction.
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