NEHIMSS: Cultural uniformity needed for successful project management
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--An organization's project management culture needs to fit the culture of the larger organization, according to survey data presented at the  “Healthcare 2010: Effectively Managing Projects in Turbulent Times” symposium on May 7, sponsored by HIMSS New England (NEHIMSS) Chapter.

Clinton Davies, MBA, principal at Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker in Portland, Maine; and Stephen Earle, PMP, a decision support consultant for Lifespan Health System in Providence, R.I., presented data from the 230 respondents, who partook in the “NEHIMSS/Project Management Institute Healthcare Special Interest Group Survey of Healthcare Attitudes on a Project Management Culture,” to share insight on developing and building a successful project management culture. Surveys were primarily filled out by New England HIMSS and PMI Healthcare Special Interest Group members.

The presenters defined project management culture as “a set of shared attitudes, values, beliefs and practices that support the consistent use and development of project management knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to support the organization’s mission and achieve its strategic objective."

Respondents were evenly divided between those who thought their organization has a project management culture (41 percent) and those who do not (43 percent), stated Earle. Sixteen percent thought that a project management culture was somewhat present.

Of the 41 percent who reported having a project management culture, Davies noted that there is some disagreement as to what this culture constitutes. “[T]here’s no such thing as one size fits all,” he said. Project management culture in the "41 Percent Club" runs from structured to open, formal to informal, according to Davies.

In terms of effectiveness, the largest number of respondents (45 percent) cited meeting budgets and other formal metrics as a means to measure effectiveness. The second-largest response (17 percent) was “lessons learned / no formal metrics,” Davies said. Thirty-six percent of respondents said communication and planning were their greatest tools or strategies deployed. Programs like Microsoft Project only accounted for 7 percent of respondents as tools used, he said.

Among respondents citing failed projects, Earle stated, a recurring theme was over-reliance on structured techniques and sophisticated tools without being able to effectively communicate with the people the tools were designed to help.

The presenters inferred during the presentation that project management can't stop at the tools but should look at the "big picture." For reasons why respondents believed project management efforts fail or fall short, 36 percent stated there was “no support” or there was “personnel resistance to change,” stated Davies.

Respondents believe many impending initiatives will require effective project management to be successful, according to the survey. Top among the group is meaningful use efforts, followed by ICD-10 and EMR efforts, respectively.

More detailed information of the survey’s respondents will be made available in the future, Earle said.