Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 1

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1 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 1 Department of Human Capital Development, Warsaw School of Economics, Poland Abstract This paper reveals the project management reality in Polish organizations. Two groups of factors referring to the project manager are presented. The first one contains direct factors, i.e. these that can be influenced by the project manager himself: experience in project management (in years), level of certificate, sector of the economy. The second one comprises the indirect factors, which cannot be controlled by the project manager: number of projects carried out in the organization yearly, number of concurrent projects carried out in the organization, average project budget in the organization, average number of project team members. Conclusions are based on the research carried out in 2011 in cooperation with the International Project Management Association. Moreover, two hypotheses are verified, both refer to the Polish project management conditions. Key words: project manager, International Project Management Association, project management research, organizational structure, project team. Introduction The most recent researches on Project management underline the importance of soft skills that both managers and their teams should have. The case study conducted by M. Lecoture and P. Lievre proves that the good project manager 1 This paper was prepared with the support of the scholarship received from the Warsaw School of Economics under the special scholarship programme Weź stypendium dla rozwoju for full-time doctoral students, which is co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund.

2 180 should be able to effectively gather knowledge, that is essential for the project, rather than base on his own experience, even the long one 2. IT managers survey conducted at Applied Science University Amman-Jordan, The Arab Academy for Banking and Financial Sciences Amman-Jordan and Al-balqa Applied University Amman-Jordan, acknowledges these conclusions. What is more, it shows significant importance of knowledge gathering for the efficiency of the project 3. The other confirmation comes from A. Hubert, who points out that various knowledge sources are inevitable to make a good plan for the project 4. Polish research on project management conducted out by J. Haffer shows that it is not professional skills, but engagement, flexibility and organizational abilities, which are the most important key factors of project success 5. The conclusion is that nowadays the project manager is no longer a skilled professional, who manages the team, because of his experience in some specific expertise area. The new project manager is a person with high leadership skills. An analyst, who can set objectives and gather knowledge as well as resources needed to fulfil them. A person who is a real manager, not a specialist who has to manage few people. That is why project management knowledge and skills are becoming more important for organizations. So the question arise: Is the average Polish project manager experienced or may be a beginner in project management? What does his work environment look like? Relatively short history of Polish free market economy, which may be the reason for low project management development, can lead to two hypotheses: 1. Polish project managers have short experience in project management and try to offset it with high level certificates. 2. Work environment in Polish organizations is not adjusted to projects. In order to answer these questions and prove the hypotheses right, the survey was carried out in cooperation with the International Project Management Association (Polish chapter). 2,568 managers where surveyed, all of them either the members of the IPMA or the IMPA certificate holders. The survey was supported by interactive web tool (www.ankietka.pl), which helped both in gathering and processing of data. 192 questionnaires were collected. 2 M. Lecoutre, P. Lievre, Mobilizing social networks beyond project team frontiers: The case of polar expeditions, Project Management Journal June 2010, pp N. Al.-Zayyat, F. Al-Khaldi, I. Tadros, G. al-edwan Al-Balqa, The effect of knowledge management processes on project management, IBIMA BUSINESS REVIEW 2009, Vol. 3, pp A. Hubert, Elements of logistics for polar ski expedition, in: Logistics of polar ski expeditions, GNGL, Paris 2003, pp J. Haffer, Skuteczność zarządzania projektami w przedsiębiorstwach działających w Polsce, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu, Toruń 2009, pp

3 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 181 To clarify the analysis, factors regarding the project managers were divided into two groups. The first one includes direct factors, i.e. these controlled by each manager: experience in project management (in years), level of certificate, sector of the economy. The second one regards indirect factors such as: number of projects carried out in the organization yearly, number of projects carried out in the organization parallel, average project budget in the organization, average number of project team members. Direct factors The average experience in project management in the study group is 6 years. The chart below shows that the majority of respondents is in the section between 2 and 7 years. Definitely fewer managers have experience in program or portfolio management. Up to 36% of managers have no or very little experiences in this area, whereas almost half declared to have 1 to 4 years of experience here. The average is slightly above 2 years. Figure 1 Experience in project management 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% experience in project management experience in portfolio/program management experience in years

4 182 Taking into consideration that respondents were associated in the Polish chapter of the IPMA, one of the conclusions can be that Polish organizations (most of them commercial companies or public sector) began to implement project management approximately in years After the year 2008 the second phase portfolio and program management implementation started, concerning the growing number of program and portfolio managers. Although managers were asked if they hold certificates in project management, results are not representative, as the surveyed group consists of the IMPA members or the IMPA certificate holders. However, the comparison of the different certificate level percentage looks interesting. Whereas 67% respondents have the lowest level of certificate (D), only 7% have the second level (C). Levels B and A are really rare. 2 respondents declared to be level B certificate holders and 5 achieved the highest stage. Why is the percentage of upper levels so small? Is it really so hard to achieve them or perhaps managers simply do not need them, because D certificate is sufficient to get a job? Interesting conclusions come after the analysis of the relation between experience and certificate level. What comes out is that the more experienced the manager is, the highest level of certificate he holds. It means that certificates are rather the proof of some real skills, than an easy tool used to quickly raise ones attractiveness for employer, by achieving highest levels of certificates with little in the field experience. The average level of experience in four certificate level groups are as in the chart below. Figure 2 Average experience among certificate holders experience in years D C B A Besides the issues concerning experience and knowledge in project management, the sectors of economy in which managers work were also

5 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 183 analysed. More than 20% declared to be working in IT, 15.1% in construction and almost 10% in energy sector. This makes almost the half of the surveyed group. Surprisingly only 5.2% worked in financial sector, which includes banking. Relatively big share of public sector is also unexpected. Probably the growing number of projects financed by the European Union contributes to the development of project management here. The conclusion should be that it is a good and encouraging sign that people who manage European projects take care of their knowledge and abilities in project management. The same factors can be the reason why also educational projects have relatively big share in the surveyed group. Undoubtedly projects financed from the European Union subsidies raised the number of projects in this sector. The pie chart below presents percentage of sectors represented in the surveyed group. Figure 3- Sectors represented in the research outsourcing 4.7% r&d 4.7% consulting 4.2% finance 5.25 other 13.0% energy 9.9% public 7.3% education 7.3% construction 15.1% production 7.3% IT 21.4% The research also reveals information about the indirect factors. Among the respondents were managers who managed small projects, as well as professionals whose organizations ran multimillion projects. Each of them was asked to declare the average level of project budget in the organization. In some cases estimations were in EUR or USD. To compare them with the rest of the data, following exchange rates were taken (average exchange rates published

6 184 by the Central Bank of Poland on 1 December 2011): 3.34 PLN/USD, 4.51 PLN/ EUR. Figure 4 Average project budget frequency distribution , , , , ,00 more 10 4 Indirect factors 176 respondents were able to estimate the average budget of projects in their organizations. The average in the whole surveyed group is PLN 7,667, and the maximum is PLN 400 m. However, the median is PLN 500,000, which means that at least half of organizations run small projects with budgets around few hundred thousand PLN. What is more, 77.3% declared average budget below PLN 2.5 m and almost the whole group (162 of 176) is under the PLN 10 m average. Only 8% of organizations run bigger projects. It can be summed up with conclusion, that Polish managers deal mostly with projects worth less than PLN 2.5 m this is around USD 750,000 or EUR 555,000. In the cross-sector perspective the leader is energy sector with average of almost PLN 50 m. Next places are for Research and Development, construction and production with budgets above PLN 5 m. IT, which has the biggest share in the research, has the average budget of PLN 1.9 m.

7 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 185 Figure 5 Average project budget cross-sector comparison ,00 zł 1 000,00 zł 100,00 zł ,53 zł 500,40 zł 7 216,71 zł 1 686,70 zł 7 047,84 zł 900,00 zł 6 864,36 zł 600,00 zł 2 446,43 zł 3 500,00 zł 1 389,55 zł 300,00 zł 1 864,00 zł 300,00 zł 1 830,00 zł 600,00 zł 1 635,00 zł 110,00 zł 1 396,43 zł 2 000,00 zł 1 012,50 zł 550,00 zł 800,00zł 500,00 zł 600,00 zł 1 000,00 zł 550,00 zł 500,50 zł 244,20 zł 123,33 zł 260,00 zł energy r&d construction production education it automotive outsourcing health public consulting FMCG others non profit finanse publishing sales average median The analysis of medians is essential in case of the project budget. The example of the energy sector shows that the high level of the average project value is the result of few very big projects, whereas half of organizations run small projects, with budgets below PLN As well as the scope of the project, the number of project team members whom the manager has to manage, can also influence his working conditions. The research shows that the size of project teams is differentiated and can vary from three persons to few dozens.

8 15% 17% 10% 186 Figure 6 The average number of team members frequency distribution 93% 98% 100% 88% 81% 48% 33% 27% 22% 1% 1% 2% 2% 7% 5% 5% 2% more Most frequently organizations build teams of 5 to 10 members, which translates into 33% of the surveyed group. Almost 50% of organizations base on teams smaller than 6 members. What is important individual implementation of projects or teams of two are very rare. Summing up, 81% of organizations build teams not larger than 10 members, so project managers usually have to deal with rather small number of co-workers. One of the key factors influencing project managers working conditions are: average number of projects in the year and the average number of projects managed concurrently in the organization. These values allow to estimate how intensive is the project work in organization and how important are projects to it. In the surveyed group 188 respondents were able to estimate mentioned values. The average number of projects run yearly across all organizations is 60 (59,54). It shows that managers who participated in the research represented mostly these organizations, which can be described as project intensive.

9 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 187 Figure 7 The yearly average of projects frequency distribution 88% 91% 94% 96% 100% 79% 69% 52% 23% 25% 27% 17% 0% 0% 2% 2% 10% 9% 3% 3% 3% 4% more Average number of project yearly The distribution of averages seems to be really interesting here. As the chart above shows, more than a half of examined organizations manages up to 15 projects yearly. The majority declares numbers between 6 to 15. Although it is much less than the average for the whole group, sill the conclusion can be that the majority of respondents work in project intensive organizations. The second value is the number of projects managed at the same time by the organization. What should be underlined is that it does not mean the number of projects run by one project manager, but by many managers within the organization. The more projects are run concurrently, the bigger is the competition between teams for resources. If both analysed values are compared, also the average time of the project can be estimated. It is important, because the less time manager has to constitute a good working team, the bigger efforts he has to undertake to succeed.

10 188 Figure 8 The average of concurrent projects frequency distribution 95% 97% 99% 100% 86% 65% 33% 44% 10% 11% 22% 20% 10% 1% 1% 2% 2% 1% more Average number of projects parallel The research shows that the average number of concurrent projects is 20. The biggest share (33%) have these organizations, which run from 3 to 5 projects at the same time. However, not much smaller share have these in sections 6 10 and It has to be stressed that 10% of respondents declared values between 25 to 50. Moreover, only few organizations manage not more than one project at the same time. What comes from these numbers is that organizations in which respondents work, tend to create rather tough working conditions for project managers, as the competition for resources between many projects inside them seems to be tough. The comparison of two analysed values was made in cross-sector view to show the specific conditions of each sector of economy.

11 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 189 Figure 9 Concurrent and yearly projects cross-sector comparison average number of projects yearly average number of projects paralell 355,00 341,67 119,03 22,00 70,57 16,14 64,78 15,67 53,69 21,31 51,22 14,44 46,67 17,60 40,80 34,40 36,00 11,33 30,00 8,00 20,50 16,56 20,00 8,25 18,88 10,00 15,67 6,00 15,00 15,00 12,71 7,50 9,11 3,93 9,00 6,00 6,50 5,50 FMCG it outsourcing finanse production energy construction automotive sales logistics r&d health consulting publishing marketing education public non profit others The assumption was made, that the difference between the number of projects yearly (1) and the number of concurrent projects (2) allows to estimate the average length of projects. The bigger this difference is, the shorter time of project life cycles can be attached to the specific sector of economy. Obviously (1) is always bigger or at least even with (2). The biggest (1) as well as (2) was observed in the FMCG. What is interesting values are nearly even. Moreover, automotive, Research and Development and non-profit sectors have similar characteristics. It means that project life cycles are rather long in these cases, so managers have much time to develop well co-operating teams. The opposite is IT, where (2) is few times lower than (1). This can result in relatively short project life cycles and, consequently, not much time to constitute efficient team. The natural consequence for managers in IT is the necessity to deal really quickly with team building. The last analysed factor is the organizational structure. The research

12 190 carried out by B. Schmidt and J. Adams shows that the best organizational structure in view of the number of factors lowering motivation is the balanced matrix. Weak matrix and functional structure took second place. Third is for the strong matrix and clean project structure. 6 It is very interesting, because intuitively clean project structure seems to be the most project friendly and functional the worst one. Figure 10 Organizational structures Strong matrix 8% Clean project 10% Funcional 21% Balanced matrix 19% Weak matrix 42% In the main research analyzed in this paper, almost a half of managers declared working in the environment of strong legitimization of their authority. According to B. Schmidt and J. Adams research, it can be concluded that 29% of managers are in the worst working conditions in view of motivational factors. 52% take second place and only 19% find themselves in the most comfortable environment 7. However, motivational conditions should not be connected directly with the team efficiency or ability to solve team problems. Despite the results of B. Schmidt and J. Adams research, strong matrix and clean project structure are 6 B. Schmid, J. Adams, Motivation in Project Management: The Project Manager s Perspective, Project Management Journal, June 2008, pp Ibidem, p. 69.

13 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 191 still the best ones to deal with any issues disturbing team work 8. So even if the number of factors lowering motivation is highest for these structures, it should be stressed that they have the biggest potential to overcome them. As a result, functional structure and weak matrix can be the most unfriendly environments for the manager because even their low number of motivation lowering problems cannot be solved, due to the weak legitimization of project managers authority. Summary Addressing the questions from the beginning, the Polish project manager is a person with moderate experience in project management, usually of 6 years. However, he consequently struggles to develop his knowledge and abilities. He works in services, in private as well as in public sector. Most frequently his authority over the team is strong, as organizational structures usually support project management. Their implementation can be the result of high project intensity in organization, both in view of yearly and concurrent projects. Teams, which usually consist of maximum 10 members, work in projects with budgets around few million PLN. Referring to the set of two hypotheses, the first one seems to be wrong, which in fact is a good result. Although Polish project managers have not much experience, they try to improve it. What is most important certificates are not the tools used to improve the status of manager and offset his low experience. They are rather a proof of his qualifications and a motivator to further self-improvement. The verification of the second hypothesis is also rather negative. The analysis of organizational structures shows, that the majority of organizations implemented rather project friendly types. Perhaps the result of the short history of Polish free market is different than assumed young companies, established in the time of the rapid growth of the project management implemented the matrix and clean project structures at the very beginning of their existence and there is no need for expensive and long transformation. Moreover figures referring to number of yearly and concurrent projects prove that project type of work is present and intensive in Polish organizations. 8 M. Trocki, Organizacja projektowa, Bizarre, Warszawa 2009, p. 83.

14 192 Bibliography Al-Zayyat N., Al-Khaldi F., Tadros I., al-edwan Al-Balqa G., The effect of knowledge management processes on project management, IBIMA BUSINESS REVIEW 2009, Vol. 3. Haffer J., Skuteczność zarządzania projektami w przedsiębiorstwach działających w Polsce, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu, Toruń Hubert A., Elements of logistics for polar ski expedition, in: Logistics of polar ski expeditions, GNGL, Paris Lecoutre M., Lievre P., Mobilizing social networks beyond project team frontiers: The case of polar expeditions, Project Management Journal, June Schmid B., Adams J., Motivation in Project Management: The Project Manager s Perspective, Project Management Journal, June Trocki M., Organizacja projektowa, Bizarre, Warszawa Trocki M., Grucza B., Ogonek K., Zarządzanie projektami, PWE, Warszawa Kerzner H., Project Management A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, Van Nonstrand Reinhold, New York Meredith J. R., Mantel S. J. Jr., Project management: a managerial approach, John Wiley and Sons, Peзюмe Опыт и условия труда менеджеров проектов в Польше рапорт исследований Статья описывает реалии управления проектами в польских организациях. Анализируются две группы факторов, имеющих отношение к менеджеру проекта. Первая группа это прямые факторы, т.е. такие, которые менеджер может формировать самостоятельно: опыт управления проектами (количество лет), уровень сертификации, отрасль, в которой работает данное лицо. Вторая группа состоит из факторов независимых от менеджера проекта, устанавливаемых организацией: число проектов реализуемых организацией в течение года, число проектов, разрабатываемых организацией одновременно, размер бюджетов проектов, численность проектного коллектива. Выводы базируются на исследовании, проведенном в 2011 году при сотрудничестве с International Project Management Association. Кроме того верифицируются две исследовательские гипотезы, касающиеся условий труда менеджеров проектов. Ключевые слова: менеджер проекта, International ProjectManagement Association, исследования в области управления проектами, организационная структура, проектный коллектив.

15 Experience and Working Conditions of Project Managersin Poland Research Report 193 Graduate of the Warsaw School of Economics, majoring in Management (2009) and Finance and Accounting (April 2010). In 2008 he was the Minister of Science and Higher Education scholarship holder. Within the time of his master s studies he was actively involved in the Students Scientific Circle of Negotiations, Communication and Psychology. Currently he pursues his doctoral studies at the Collegium of Business Administration at the Warsaw School of Economics. He is preparing his Ph.D. dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Marta Juchnowicz, the Head of Human Capital Development Department. This scientific interests focus on efficiency of project team work from a narrow perspective, including the team themselves, as well as from a broader one, i.e. organisational considering, among others, the impact of institutional conditions of pursuing project on efficiency of team work.

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