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Megatrends – Projectification – Ireland to Mirror Germany?

10 May 2016
Megatrends – Projectification – Ireland to Mirror Germany?

Popular conventional wisdom assumes that there is an increasing use of projects across all industries and sectors.

Although the prevalence of projects in many organizations is evident, no exact figures on the degree of Projectification, i.e. the share of project work in companies, industries, or entire economies, exist.

An empirical study that systematically looked at the level of project work in the German economy provides some dramatic findings.

The research aimed to develop a measure that could be used independently of the industry, project type and firm size and to apply this measure to assess the share of project work in the German economy.

Based on a survey of 500 companies (including the public sector), it was found that:

  • The share of project work to total working hours in 2013 was 35%
    Assuming that these hours corresponds to an identical proportion of gross value added, this would equate to a sum of €877 billion
  • This share went up by nearly 20 % in the last few years
  • It is expected to increase further to more than 40% by 2019

The German economy is clearly experiencing an increasing projectification which raises serious questions about how organizations respond to this trend.

For example, the increasing use of projects makes organisations less rigid, more flexible and innovative, and can solve complex problems. New organisational forms are characterised as more flexible but at the same time highly efficient and less dependent on hierarchical control and bureaucratic coordination.

The project landscape is also changing, with 84% of the companies surveyed being internal projects. IT and marketing/sales projects are most frequently used (each at 20 %), whereas R&D/new product development projects (13 %) are applied less often.

The greatest increase in project work in the last four years (in total, more than 54 %) was recorded in the public sector. Starting from a relatively low level of 11.6% in 2009, the proportion of project work in this sector increased to 17.8 % in 2013.

One consequence of this trend is the requirement to produce more highly trained and competent project managers to meet the demand of this growth and to ensure that the projects are managed as effectively as possible.

Professor Yvonne Schoper & Ed Naughton with the Sir Monty Finniston Award
Riga, March 2016, study author Professor Yvonne Schoper & Ed Naughton with the Sir Monty Finniston Award, which the International Project Management Association (IPMA) received for its engagement in moving the profession forward.

IPMA certification is highly respected and regarded in Germany, with some 35000 Certified IPMA – D professionals registered there. Both the current president of IPMA and chair of the powerful Certification & Validation Management Board are German.

The study's authors believe that “ the proportion of project work should also be measured in other countries to allow international comparisons”.

Such an undertaking would also be an interesting follow-on to Roland Gareis and Martina Hueman seminal bench-marking work on The Project Oriented Society.

Towards a Measurement of “Projectification”: A Study on the Share Project Work in the German Economy
Andreas Wald, Thomas Spanuth, Christoph Schneider, Yvonne Schoper