“The Project Olimp contest has shown that it is primarily regional authorities that are most interested in project management and it is regional authorities that have the most demand for project management mechanisms,” said Olesya Safonova, the Head of the Department for Project Management in the Public Sector of the Analytical Center, in her report at the round table ‘Project Management. Difficulties of the Implementation and Use by Regional Executive Authorities’.
Why is there so much interest in project management in the Russian regions? On the one hand, they need to follow the President Vladimir Putin’s instruction issued at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum that project offices must be established in every region. On the other hand, they want to introduce modern methods for managing and saving resources, an issue that is fast gaining relevance. Ms. Safonova talked about the regions that have been leading the way in project management, namely, the Belgorod and Yaroslavl Oblasts and Perm Krai, which have been making very good progress in this area. The expert also noted the Khanty-Mansy Autonomous District and the Primorski Krai, which have also made some significant gains and plan to participate in Project Olimp this year.
“The main problem we are still facing is lack of regulations,” Ms. Safonova summed up. “As a first step we need to define ‘project’ and ‘project office’ in the law.”
Pavel Shestopalov, an adviser of the Economics and Finance Department of the Russian Government, talked in more detail about the obstacles that are keeping state authorities from adopting project management techniques more widely. According to him, even though project management is the new buzz word these days, there is precious little that is actually being done in this area. “90% of the regions have set up project offices on paper only and it is a big problem. There is a huge risk that the very notion of project management may lose its meaning and we have to think long and hard about what would be the best way to direct this process where we want it to go.”
Talking about a strategic session with vice governors, Mr. Shestopalov called the attention of the round table participants that there is actually quite a bit of resistance to project management in many regions. The expert believes the reasons for that are lack of understanding of the changes that come with project management and unwillingness to accept them, outdated stereotypes, resistance to the idea of one person reporting to several managers, which is standard practice in project management, as well as a major lack of experience in project management and lack of a standardized methodology. Add to that the habit of perpetuating the process rather than trying to achieve concrete results. “Inertia and unwillingness to change can hardly be defeated by simply issuing an instruction. Something has to be done about it and the best place to start is to make new regulations,” Mr. Shestopalov believes.
During the round table, experts shared their ideas about how to best normalize the situation. Regional representatives talked about their experience in developing new project management regulations and introducing project management tools and put forward their proposals on how to best handle the teething problems.