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India’s Project Management Boom

India’s Project Management Boom

In another ten years, India is expected to have the second largest number of project management jobs in the world after China. Phenomenal growth in project management opportunities will largely be driven by economic expansion and infrastructure projects. But, is the country geared up to meet the demand for skilled personnel in the area?

Infrastructure growth will be at the core of India’s economic development as the world’s sixth largest economy targets to become the world’s third largest by 2028. Since 2014, the federal government has launched several big-ticket infrastructure projects, leading engineering and construction companies to engage well-trained and experienced project managers to deliver projects within stipulated budget and timelines.

India will require 7 million new project managers in the next 10 years. It will emerge as the fastest growing country in the world for project management-oriented employment, reports Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s), Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027, released in 2017.

Globally, the growth in project management occupations will be on account of expansion in key sectors such as manufacturing and construction (9.7 million), information services and publishing (5.5 million), finance and insurance (4.6 million), management and professional services (1.7 million), utilities (279,000), and oil and gas (49,000).

The 2017 report was the third assessment of project management employment and industry activity conducted by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) for PMI, the US-based not-for-profit global membership association for project management. The 11 countries surveyed include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, and the US.

When you look at any infrastructure project, you know there are certain issues, such as land acquisition, relocation, rehabilitation, or regulatory approvals, which the project could have addressed. If you comprehend these issues proactively, you can plan more effectively. When you do that, you can be assured that the project is appropriately implemented, surmises Raj Kalady, Country Director, PMI. A trained project manager is thus capable of making a holistic assessment of all risks inherent in a project.

I would attribute the boom in project management to expansion in a wide range of sectors, and to the realisation of benefits that project managers bring to the table. Companies from many industries are introducing project management training and certification to drive efficiency, quality, and innovation, Shefali Saxena, Chief Operating Officer for Asia, Louis Berger tells INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY.

She adds that Louis Berger is conscious of the role project management plays in delivering projects on time and within budget, by meeting the required quality, and by adhering to the best practices for health and safety.

In pursuit of the long-term development of highly-skilled project managers, the $1 billion US-based engineering and construction management company has instituted a comprehensive and detailed project management training and certification programme. In 2016, the company organised and implemented an internal global manager training programme. As far as 168 project managers have participated in the training worldwide.

Similarly, India’s largest multinational firm, Larsen and Toubro established the Institute of Project Management (L&T IPM) at L&T Knowledge City in Vadodara in 2008. As the demand for the course increased, a second campus of L&T IPM was established in 2011 at L&T’s Chennai Campus.

Taking a macro view Ashish Tandon, Managing Director, Egis India attributes the rising demand for project management professionals to be a direct result of increased globalisation. The whole world is moving towards a globalised economy where decentralisation, localisation, and multi-locational operations have become an everyday reality. Companies have become like giant assembly lines, where big operations are distributed into smaller operations spread across different geographies, cultures, and time zones that need immense project management skills to anchor and bring them all together to deliver a finished product of global standards, he says. As per the PMI report, by 2027, India will have the second largest number of project management jobs in the world (21.8 million) after China (46 million). India presently has a total of 45,625 certified project management professionals, according to the data provided by PMI. Out of this, 41,827 hold Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

With so many upcoming infrastructure projects, there is a pressing need for companies to hire project managers who are adequately trained to plan, organise, manage resources, and monitor progress within demanding budgets and timelines. The experience and competencies acquired during the management of these projects would further professional with and deliver the skills necessary for career advancement, says Saxena.

Tandon concurs with the view and adds that by being a fairly new concept in India, project management is largely a blank slate holding the opportunity to implement global learnings without repeating the mistakes made elsewhere. There is also a dual advantage. The Indian companies are getting exposed to global standards and global companies are coming to India with the expectation that their standards will be maintained. This gives the profession a good chance to grow and consolidate.

As per another PMI survey, around $1 million is wasted every 20 seconds collectively by organisations the world over due to ineffective implementation of business strategy arising out of poor project management practices.

This works out to roughly $2 trillion wasted in a year. Although at 8.1 per cent, or $81 million per $1 billion, India presently represents the lowest average monetary waste on projects, this is bound to increase with the expansion of its economy. To proactively avert such an eventuality, Saxena suggests that project management practices can play an important role in the planning and execution of projects. This would help avoid cost overruns and meet the expectations set within established budgets and timelines. Additionally, procurement on these projects needs to be performed efficiently, ensuring both higher quality and lower costs. Infrastructure projects require a large number of personnel whose work needs to be managed and coordinated to ensure that a project is completed within the pre-determined timelines. She emphasises that for India to maintain its impressive economic growth rate, the country needs to use its resources most efficiently.

It is a well-known fact that the Indian infrastructure sector suffers from delays for a variety of reasons. Systematic implementation of project management techniques will not only help in forecasting problems that may cause delays beforehand, but also offer ample opportunities to mitigate the risks, avers Tandon.

Successful application of project management practices also helps provide invaluable lessons for the future. Citing the successful execution of the Delhi metro rail project, Sandhya Jane, Hong Kong-based investment banker and author of the book, Business Analysis: The Question and Answer Book, says, In the process, there have been many new learnings for the next wave of Indian project managers.

They will have to assess and understand the socio-economic impact of such urban railway projects in a rapidly developing nation like India, imbibe the appropriate latest technologies, and define objectives and features of similar projects in future. In her opinion, such a combination gives rise to new complexities that require knowledge, experience, and creativity for successful resolution.

The PMI report indicates that the outlook of management jobs continue to outperform the overall labour market due to a dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills, attrition rates, including professionals retiring from the workforce, and a significant rise in demand for project talent from economies such as China and India. New positions are expected to emerge each year in project management-oriented industries in the 11 countries covered. Here, China (1.1 million jobs) leads the pack, followed by India (706,682) and the U.S. (213,974).

The report also warns of a widening gap between employers need for skilled project management workers and the availability of such professionals. It is estimated that by 2027, there will be a requirement for 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles. According to a forecast for 2027, t he contribution to GDP from project-oriented industries is $20.2 trillion. With project management-oriented industries comprising a large and growing sector, the failure to prepare future practitioners could result in a substantial loss of economic output. The potential talent shortage puts at risk a total of nearly $208 billion in GDP from 2017-2027, for the 11 countries assessed and 11 per cent ($23.4 billion) of that amount is at risk in India. For the past several years, PMI’s Kalady has been urging for project management to be introduced as a subject in schools. Speaking to the magazine at his Bandra Kurla Complex office in Mumbai, he declares, We need a policy at the level of the Ministry of Human Resource Development for its effective implementation across institutions. In 2011, we started the PMI India Research & Academic Conference that is meant only for academic institutions and scholars. So far, we have done four conferences. The increase in the number of papers and delegates at each successive conference gives Kalady a tremendous sense of optimism about the scope of project management in India.

So, what advice do the industry leaders have for project management aspirants? Project management professionals can make an immediate, significant impact on the success of a project, and hence any organisation. You can truly make a difference between a project that is well-executed and completed within timelines and budget and a project that runs into issues of quality, time, and cost. The opportunity to make a difference on every assignment makes project management an inherently satisfying career, points out Saxena.

Tandon adds with a flourish, Your time is here; rise and shine. Now is the golden opportunity to not only make a name for yourself but also change the way projects are perceived and implemented in the country.

Manish Pant

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