In Search of Excellence

In Search of Excellence

The landscape of how we manage transformation and get things done is changing. Projectification – the diffusion of project management across all aspects of society – means that the project form is more and more the vehicle for organizing most activities.

As a consequence, in order to improve national competitiveness, not only will project management competence be a mandatory component of one’s skillset, but we will also have to fully understand the building blocks of project excellence.

John Vickery, head of the IPMA® Irish Certification Body, recently attended a 3 day Masterclass in Lisbon on the structure and application of the IPMA® model for Project Excellence. He shares his observations in this article.

IPMA® Project Excellence Model 

The Masterclass offered an opportunity to gain the ability to evaluate a project using the IPMA® Project Excellence Model. It also provided participants with the tools needed to implement this approach for internal evaluations of projects in organisations.

The model takes account of recent developments in project management. For example, it seeks to ensure that every excellent project needs to consider sustainability and the environment with a long term perspective, not as an option but rather as the default.

IPMA® Project Excellence Model 

The main purpose of the IPMA® Project Excellence Model is to provide guidance to organisations in assessing the ability of their projects and programmes to achieve project excellence. As such, it identifies three areas:

1. People and Purpose  

The right people, led and supported by excellent leaders, all sharing a common vision for success, are crucial to drive project improvements and help the project to run and go beyond established standards.

2. Processes and Resources

Criteria represent practices necessary to reinforce excellence through sound processes and adequate resources used in an efficient and sustainable way.

3. Project Results  

Complements the first two areas with necessary proof of excellent results as defined by the project stakeholders

What business values can be secured?

  • Performance – People driven by purpose are motivated and strive to achieve results;

  • Effectiveness and efficiency – The right processes and resources used by people driven by purpose increase their effectiveness and efficiency;

  • Reliability – Well-established processes and adequately managed resources help to secure short- and long-term results;

  • Flexibility – Regular observation of the results influences the perception of people and leads to a better understanding of the project objectives and continuous refinement of its strategy;

  • Continuous improvement – Conclusions from the analysis of the results drive the development of processes and resources;

  • Scalability – People driven by objectives look for opportunities to increase their abilities through the development and utilisation of the right processes and resources.

  • Sustainability can be observed both in terms of effects on the environment and longevity of the results.

Who would use the model?

The baseline can be used as a reference for conducting an assessment, finding areas for improvement and contributing to the sustainable development of a project, programme or portfolio.

The most typical user groups identified are:

  • Senior management

  • Project, programme and portfolio managers, heads/managers of project

    management offices(PMOs) and portfolio management offices (PfMOs)

  • Knowledge, quality and process managers;

  • Researchers and educators (teachers, trainers);

  • IPMA® International Project Excellence Award trainers and assessors;

  • Consultants

The link between competence and excellence

Project excellence is underpinned by the concept of attainment of individual and organization competence.

The model requires that the full potential of individual and organisational competences is used to achieve project success and to realise excellence. This is accomplished through a good understanding of the needs of the project and the potential of all key project stakeholders, plus the alignment of leadership styles, project strategy and processes.


Pictured below: John Vickery (second from left) at IPMA® Project Excellence Model Masterclass

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