Project Management as a Service (PMaaS): Time to Think from Within the Box

Project Management as-a-Service (PMaaS) is an emerging concept and is seen as a shift in thinking and mindset in how project management can be used. It is touted as a new business model in line with a series of on-demand cloud-based service offerings such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) to name a few (Harrin, 2014).

The question remains, what PMaaS is? Whether it has any practical utility? Apparently, it is a suite of cloud-based solutions that allow project planning and assist in project execution, monitoring, and control.

For the purpose of developing an understanding, we define PMaaS as an approach to improve the effectiveness of project management within an organization by integrating internal capabilities with expertise and technological solutions of external service providers for demand-driven resource procurement, utilization and management; real-time project monitoring and on-demand troubleshooting of issues and known risks throughout the project life-cycle.

It is a contractual arrangement that is expected to provide options to sponsor organizations or individuals to achieve cost and investment efficiencies on the projects by reducing capital investments associated with the management of an army of project management professionals and development of internal project management capabilities—something that they may consider a non-core business activity.

The proponents of PMaaS approach boast a number of benefits for adopting this approach. These include providing correct resources at the correct time, trimming down the number of project management staff and saving costs, getting staff with varying levels of experience and skills based on the needs of specific tasks in the project lifecycle, cutting costs on having human resources staff and capabilities to hire project staff on an on-demand basis, enjoying the flexibility of initiating wide-range of projects with little in-house expertise to execute such projects, transfer of risks by not having people on the pay-roll but still working for the projects (Harrin, 2014; Habibi, 2020).

From a practical implementation and operationalization perspective, PMaaS-based arrangement could be complex or complicated or both. Organizations may outsource the tactical or operational part of their project management efforts and exercise control on the strategic part of project management including decisions on launching new projects and setting criteria for benefit realization management, level of involvement and coordination with the external on-demand PMaaS provider, and the level of inputs and feedback of PMaaS provider going into decision-making process of top management project committee, e.g., steering committee.

However, given that the level of maturity of project management in a typical organization is not very high, the use and operationalization of PMaaS could be challenging. Those organisations that are project management mature may face resistance from their internal project management staff who may see embracing PMaaS as a threat than an opportunity.

In addition to operationalization challenges, organisations involved in PMaaS arrangement will also face other challenges. These include, but are not limited to, ownership of project data when a PMaaS provider is involved, issues related to abandoning of projects mid-way through the project life-cycle by the PMaaS provider, and the legal and project-related ramifications of such occurring, legal issues when PMaaS provider is outside the geographical jurisdiction of the sponsor organization, security or project related data, data privacy issues etc.

While the concept of on-demand project management seems appealing, no doubt a lot needs to be done before it can realistically take off from a practical utility perspective. There are more unknowns than the knowns at the moment to use on-demand project management. The situation offers an opportunity to build further knowledge on the concept and document the experience of those who have used PMaaS to make sense of things and ease out some of the operational bottlenecks.

As Michael Dell of Dell Inc. said “Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not” and perhaps that could be a starting point to develop some thought leadership around the value proposition of PMaaS and build knowledge-based confidence for use of this new concept for further developments in project management.


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Jiwat Ram
Jiwat Ram
Jiwat is currently working as a Professor in Project management at Excelia Business School France. He did his Ph.D. from the University of South Australia and MBA in International Business from AIT Thailand. Jiwat has over 20 years experience of working in industry across banking, construction, service, and education sectors in an international setting. For the last more than 10 years, Jiwat has worked in academia teaching at Executive Education, Master’s, and bachelor’s levels. His teaching includes courses on Artificial Intelligence, project management, management, and research methodology. Jiwat has published his research work in top-tier, high-impact factor journals including the International Journal of Production Economics, the International Journal of Project Management, Computers in Human Behaviour, the Journal of Global Information Management, and Enterprise Information Systems, among others. Combining academic and non-academic work, he has published over 100 articles in journals, conferences and industry outlets. His published work has been well received and four of his published papers have ranked in the Top 25 most downloaded papers from ScienceDirect. His two papers have been ranked in the Top 25 Most Cited articles as well. Jiwat’s research is focused on the impacts of technologies such as Social Media, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence on businesses and society. Jiwat likes to understand how we can leverage upon the use of innovative technologies for business growth and productivity. Jiwat regularly contributes towards the development of new thought and ideas in business and technology management. As such, he has a growing portfolio of publications on some of the contemporary issues in the management of projects and organizations. Jiwat also publishes his work on social media platform Linkedin to connect and reach out to other industry professionals. His work has received a good following with a significant number of posts cited as reaching top 1% engagement on Linkedin. Jiwat’s content on LinkedIn can be accessed at: #ideannovation_jiwat Please feel free to connect with Jiwat on LinkedIn by clicking on the Icon above.

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