Drivers of Project Management Education in India
Below is a gist of a research study conducted last year. The complete report is published on the PMI India website.
Perception of the Current Status of
Project Management Education in India
India has set huge growth targets with enormous investments into mega-, major-, and medium-sized projects to improve the existing infrastructure in the country. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in the year 2009 alone, a total outlay of Rs. 6,072 billion was tied up in 941 central government projects. In the private sector, the investment value tied up in projects stood at over Rs. 100 trillion. As per data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the aggregate employment in projects is over 160 million people. With frequent cost and time overruns in projects, there is now a realization within both the public and private sector of the need to bring in qualified project managers to run projects.
However, project management education in India is still in its nascent stage. In the case of China, India’s closest comparable country, project management started developing as a strong profession in the 1990s. In comparison, efforts to promote project management education in a structured mode have just begun in India.
Objectives of the exercise:
Level at which Project Management Course is Introduced
The study was aimed at investigating the factors that are responsible for driving the growth of project management education in India. The scope included studying available literature on the subject and gathering responses from a cross section of primary stakeholders through interviews. These stakeholders—responsible for promoting project management education—are the government, academic institutions, practicing executives, and human resource (HR) managers connected with project management education and training. The study used both primary and secondary data from across the country to give it a pan-India flavor.
What the study found:
Responses from academic institutes showed that there is a need for the promotion of project management education in technical and business schools to improve the employability of students. Overall, institutes need an extensive project management curriculum that can be taught in technical, business, architectural, planning, and infrastructure institutes. Faculty members interviewed opted for six core subjects to be a part of the course curriculum. These are: operations management; project planning, execution, monitoring, and control; statistical methods for project analysis, health, safety, and environment; operations research; and accounting and control systems. They also felt the need to cover sector-specific issues. The study pointed out subjects of importance under each area of study, such as technology, management, economics and strategy, and behavioral sciences. What also emerged was the need to combine various aspects of these areas of study into one course curriculum to help graduates to manage projects in a coordinated and integrated manner.
The survey of practicing middle management executives from leading project-based organizations in India revealed several interesting findings. The courses executives rated as “extremely important” include planning, scheduling, monitoring, and control techniques; project quality management; health, safety, and environment management; cost estimation and budgeting; quantity surveying and estimation; project site and equipment management; project procurement and materials management; and contract management. In terms of the relevance of project management training, sectors such as roadways, railways, urban infrastructure, civil aviation, and mega property development were rated higher than others.
Impact of Project Management Courses on Employability of Students
Experienced HR managers of leading project-based organizations offered their views on different issues, such as the training design, types of project management training, costs of training, factors affecting such training, cadres to whom training is to be imparted, and training efficacy. Their objectives in organizing project management training are to prepare executives with key skills in planning, controlling, execution, contracts, and other such areas that enable them to contribute directly to project success. The following factors are considered before deputing executives for training: perceived gains from the training; employee retention; career development; ability to execute complex projects; ability to monitor and control projects; ability to plan projects; ability to manage contracts in projects; ability to deliver projects in right time, costs, and quality. In-house training, on-the-job training, and onthe-job with classroom training are the most preferred methods of training. HR managers viewed training to be beneficial on all the factors considered, including increase in production/performance, reduction in errors and improvement of safety standards, employee retention, lesser supervision, ability to use new skills and capabilities, improved delivery performance, attitude changes, and growth of business oportunities. Certified franchisee trainers were rated most efficacious training providers, followed by internationally certified trainers, independent trainers, and academic institutes.
Conclusions and recommendations:
The analysis reveals that the following six subjects (factors) included in the management and technology area are essential in a project management curriculum (i.e., 74 percent). These are: operations management for projects; planning/scheduling/monitoring and control techniques; statistical methods for project analysis; operations research for projects; project quality management; and health safety and environment in projects. According to a correlation analysis carried out earlier, operation management and operations research; quality management; and health, safety, and environment are strongly correlated. As a result, only four subject areas suitably combined account for the courses that are “absolutely essential.” The remaining 25 subjects account for only a small fraction of the total curriculum (26 percent).
Only a limited number of subjects (factors) continue to describe the whole scope of the project management curriculum in an academic institute. The reason is that these institutes are in the early development stage of this profession. Multiple regression analysis suggests that the three types of institutes where project management education is essential are technical, management, and planning and design.
Different factors such as infrastructure related to library, availability of course material, classrooms, and qualified faculty are important variables in imparting project management education. However, these factors alone are not enough. The type of infrastructure currently prevailing is more dictated by regulatory requirements rather than the requirements of project management education.
There is a supply gap in capacity for project management training in the country. The causes can be attributed to the reluctance of technical and business academic institutes to introduce and attract students exclusively for project management. Only a handful of elite institutes in India have taken concerted steps in this direction. Executives working in project-based companies enter with little or no prior orientation of project requirements. Thus, training them to be project-ready is essential for these organizations. HR managers are responsible for designing training modules that would bring direct gains to the project and companies.
The main barriers are: lack of awareness among managements of technical and business management institutes about the importance and relevance of teaching project management; lack of systematic curriculum development with a focused view to develop competencies; little interest in researching project management-related subjects among faculty; lack of trained instructors; long, winding procedures for regulatory approvals for introducing courses; provision of qualified faculty and infrastructure; and the costs of training that have to be absorbed by organizations.
Company Looking for Project Management Competency
Concerted efforts are needed in the areas of curriculum development, research, creation of awareness regarding the application of project management techniques to the project business, and using mass media to create awareness. Sustained advocacy at all levels of governments also strongly recommended. The report proposes some model curricula for project management education and training in technical and business management institutes as well as for executives in project-based organizations.
About the research team: The study was conducted by a team from the National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), Pune, and sponsored by PMI India. Dr. M.G. Korgaonker, director general and project director, NICMAR, led the research team that included Dr. Mona N. Shah, who was the principal investigator, besides Dr. J.K. Koner, Prof. M.V. Madurwar, and Prof. Smruti Sanjeevani.