Project Management at Scale: Indispensable to Achieve Vision India
Prashant Ranade

Project management is as old as civilization itself. The wonders of the ancient world - the Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples, the Colosseum in Rome, or the Ajanta-Ellora caves - would not have been possible without robust project management. Modern history too is witness to several project management marvels in engineering, construction, new technologies, and space exploration.

India stands at the cusp of greatness today. It is the best performing emerging economy, a strong democracy with robust institutions, and a unique demographic advantage, which positions India as a leading contender to evolve into a developed nation.

The journey to a developed nation status is not without its hurdles. India will add 183 million people into the workforce over the next 15 years, which implies that we need to create a million jobs every month over the next two decades or risk social unrest.We need to overcome challenges in multiple sectors simultaneously including poverty, literacy, food security, employment, sanitation, transport infrastructure, power, health, socioeconomic equality, digitization, and financial inclusion to truly fulfil our destiny as a developed nation.

The government has launched a series of initiatives to propel India into the league of developed nations. The initiatives including Skill India, Make in India, Digital India, and Start-up India are aimed at developing different facets of the Indian economy but they have one common attribute. Each of these initiatives will need project management at scale to be successful.

The starting point of successful project management is ownership of the higher purpose of a project across its team. The purpose is a mission with a meaning, which transcends the technical and financial objectives of the project and articulates how it will impact the lives of people, benefits to society, the nation, or even the world. For the Panama Canal project, the project objective was to construct a 48-mile waterway but the purpose was "to connect two oceans to enable global trade."

A compelling purpose elevates leadership to inspire belief rather than plan actions, acts as a guidepost for decisions, and motivates people to deliver their best. An inspiring purpose infuses a sense of pride in the team and drives the quest for world-class quality and reliability to minimize risk.

The three pillars of successful project management are people, process, and technology.

It is important to have the right people on the project with the right competencies and capabilities, positive attitude, continuous learning, and a mindset of excellence.

Process excellence is a highly underrated attribute, especially in India. The importance of defined methodology, simple yet well documented processes, and an execution discipline to follow them are critical for the success of any large project.

New project management technologies make it easy to manage complex, large-scale, long duration projects across multiple geographies, and stakeholders. But it is important to bear in mind that some of the greatest projects in history were built before computers were invented.

A critical foundation which underpins the three pillars is culture. A reluctance to talk about failures and a "chalta hain" or "jugaad" attitude are early warning signals of impending doom for projects. An open, transparent culture which enables empowerment, collaboration, and trust is key to successful projects.

(Prashant Ranade is executive vice chairman of Syntel's Board of Directors. In this role, he is involved in leadership development and strategic projects and initiatives for Syntel. He previously served as Syntel's CEO and president.

-Prashant Ranade, Executive Vice President, Syntel

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