This paper was printed as Chapter 5 in the GPM state-of-the-art book Dimensions of Project Management edited by H. ReschkeŠ & H. Schelle and published by Springer-Verlag in 1990. The book involved 29 authors from 16 countries and was assembled in honor of Roland W. Gutsch's 65th birthday. Roland, a personal friend, was founder and long-time leader of the International Project Management Association in Europe.

Abstract | Introduction | What is | Dimensions | Internal Culture
Corporate Culture | Influencing Environment | Internal Strategies
Surroundings | External Strategies | Stakeholders | Public Relations
Examples | Recent Projects | Consultants | Summary | References

The Project's External Surroundings

On some projects, events external to the project sometimes come as a surprise to the project manager and his team and are therefore seen as obstacles to progress. However, as noted earlier, projects generally exist only because of that external environment and so it is essential for the project team to recognize that they must also be responsive to it.

What is this Project External Environment?

It includes the established and latest state-of-the-art technology in which the project is based, its customers and competitors, its geographical, climatic, social, economic and political settings, in fact, virtually everything that can impact its success. These factors can affect the planning, organizing, staffing and directing which constitute the project manager's main responsibilities.

This external environment represents a complex set of inter-dependent relationships, which constantly react with the project as it is brought into reality. Conversely, most projects are intended to impact the environment in one way or another, and this is particularly true of infrastructure projects. Therefore, for the project to be ultimately successful, these inter-dependencies must be taken into account.

Even more important, the factors noted above have a habit of changing during the life of the project, especially if the project takes a number of years to complete, and is brought on-stream in phases. This translates into a high degree of uncertainty or risk surrounding the project, as a result of its external environment. In fact, the greater the degree of interdependence, the greater the degree of uncertainty, and the greater the challenge for the project manager and his team.

Not the Same for Every Project

Clearly, the environment will not be the same for every project. In fact, it is likely to be determined principally by three considerations, namely:

  • The product or service resulting from the project
  • The technology and the manner of its application, and
  • Its physical location

To identify potential difficulties stemming from the project's stakeholders, assess their probability of occurrence, and to try to head them off in advance, the project team must learn to interact frequently with those individuals and institutions which constitute the most important elements of the project's external environment. Together with the project's sponsors, owners and users, these people constitute the project's direct and indirect stakeholders.

Effective Internal Project Management Strategies  Effective Internal Project Management Strategies

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