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Projects, projects everywhere

Adeline Teoh ed.
October 7, 2011

I’ve been conducting a bit of soft research—what many of you in project management might call a feasibility study—on whether there might be an interesting angle for a story on project management and how it is used in creative fields.

I’ve spoken to a number of people informally: event managers, people in advertising, even an interior designer who works within construction projects. One of the more interesting discussions was with a marketing manager who worked with people in the building industry. She lamented that so many people considered her role to be “making things look pretty”, bypassing the true function of marketing, which is to provide effective communication for an organisation, sometimes to both internal and external stakeholders.

Then she described her role, mentioning aspects such as ensuring that marketing campaigns aligned with the business strategy, the planning that went into running the campaigns, then the process of delivering each campaign and ensuring return on investment. It seems that a marketing campaign is a project in everything but name!

Too often we forget that project management occurs in sectors other than the ‘traditional’ industries, which we generally list as construction and engineering, defence, IT, finance, government and community aid. We forget that fields such as science, manufacturing and the arts often have their own versions of projects, and that these are managed in a familiar manner, even if not run in a formal or prescriptive way.

One project-based arts organisation does just that. Renew Newcastle began as an idea: to match empty spaces with the artists and designers who needed them. The results have been astounding. Not only has Renew Newcastle incubated new businesses, it has also revived the regional city. The format has now been replicated around Australia in places like Adelaide, Townsville, Geelong and Parramatta, leading to the creation of Renew Australia, a program-based arts organisation, which launched on 1 October.

I spoke with founder and creative director Marcus Westbury and Renew Newcastle general manager Marni Jackson last year on the challenges of running a project-based organisation when neither of them were project managers. They, like you, had issues with scope and time and—with no money to speak of—budget constraints, which led to procurement of pro bono assistance. Their biggest hurdle was stakeholder buy-in with both public and private concerns to assuage, but once on board the projects have thrived.

What does this tell us? Projects are everywhere. Our job is to do them well and educate others on how to do them well. Thankfully we have insightful, thought-provoking and—dare I say—fun methods of doing so, such as through conferences like the IPMA World Congress, which comes to Brisbane next week.

If you haven’t already bought your ticket, there’s still time to register. Delegates from the International Project Management Association’s member countries will be in attendance with some 50 countries represented, making this congress a key event for global thought leadership and professional networking.

I will be reporting from the congress so be sure to watch our Twitter feed and visit the website in the coming weeks for articles on some of the world’s best project practitioners.

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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