Integrating Project Management with HR (SOE#6)

Integrating Project Management with HR (SOE#6)

Dr. Saadi Adra PgMP, PfMP, PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, EVP, OPM3, PMO, Capacity Building, Innovation & Excellence

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How often do we ask ourselves where we went wrong? what could have we done better to succeed, if hypothetically we are offered a second chance? Yet most mega projects continue persistently to fail, although we hired a PMP(R), and lately we decided to establish a PMO, so does the project-driven discipline offer success or not?

Project management is like color. You do not see blue passing by, nor are hit by a red. Colors on their own do not exist; they are attributes of bodies. Now if we say you see a blue car, or hit by a red rose, meaning starts to appear. So does project management. Project management exists in various contexts and at various management functions; for the project management discipline to benefit, we need three factors: Purpose, Integration and Means.

Purpose can be to manage a single investment or initiative or contract successfully. It can be to manage a broader program and reap its benefits successfully. It can be to transform an organization, or to achieve its strategy. PMI(R) calls this Business Acumen, and they are right. This is what makes project management a key component in producing value for the organization. What about the value for strategic HR, in managing talent for the organization; how does this intersect with project management?

Integration is very profound in the PMBOK(R) knowledge areas, specifically with HR and Procurement, since no project manager has the authority to select or approve capital purchasing, nor hire-and-fire or even allocate resources to his project on his own. He or she, have the responsibility to identify the needs and ask for them. Project management succeeds when the silos are broken with the other business units and operations within the organization.

On a more holistic view, integrating project management with various disciplines can help increase organizational maturity and achieve a whole new set of best practices for implementing project management within a specific industry. Project Controls for engineering and construction, Managing mega projects in the Oil & Gas and Petrochemical industries, project management for NGOs, managing health related Investments and so on. Each one of these industries has grown vertically with its experts, networks, culture, implementation and industry best practices that integrate project management with key practices, having their own terminology and life cycle integration.

HR and project management integration is one area which is neglected, though quite critical because it is a necessity for the success of every organization, community or even country is capitalizing on the humans, all those involved in managing, supporting and leading projects, thinking beyond just the project manager.

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Back to our opening question, why do mega projects still fail? There are many success factors, researched through looking at historical records and other means, nevertheless, quite a few projects succeed, even when the whole organization is not quite mature. In such cases, look for outstanding executive sponsorship that tangoed well with project manager and collaborative line managers, vendors and teams. My belief, is that if you do have the right people (resources), with the needed competencies and capabilities, it is just hard to fail - even in the absence of everything else. Good people always find their ways through the mines this is how our world progresses and innovations are made.

HR Capability Capacity Building competency

Looking at HR as a discipline, often their people try to manage projects and initiatives that are quite complex, without any project management skills. They suffer, and when their projects do not offer good results, all the other projects, and the organization suffers. Why not bring project management to HR? Why not establish a PMO for managing HR projects? Look at this form a strategic perspective; empowering resources, enhancing competencies and strengthening capabilities is key for any organization to succeed, both in their projects and operations, in both producing and sustaining value.

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Whereas purpose focuses on WHY, integration on WHAT, means is about HOW. ADVISORS developed a special type of PMO, which is called the Capacity Development Office (CDO) - one of The Ten Structures of Organizational Excellence. This model is made possible through over 15 years practical experience in both consulting and training; our teams assembled several practices and systems, each concluded successfully on its own in practices, integrated together in order to provide an innovative prototype for resolving the dilemma of high unemployment versus war for talent.

"Capacity Development Office" delivered at PMI-KSA Symposium 2019 at Al Khobar

I am working on the integration of project management with several disciplines. My paper The Integrated Life Cycle Management Framework won PMI Snyder award in 2016 for integrating project management with business development. If you share my interest in enhancing HR and project management integration, feel free to contact me at


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