Minister in Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Chad Blackman, addressing the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Project Management Symposium at Hilton Barbados Resort, today. (J. Bishop/BGIS)

Minister in Economic Affairs and Investment, Chad Blackman, is calling for a fresh approach to the project management process and suggested that project managers become the chief executive officers for each project assigned.

Senator Blackman also wants donor agencies to exercise greater flexibility in the turn-around times for projects, and how they are designed and approved.

He made the suggestions today while delivering the feature address at the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Project Management Symposium at Hilton Barbados Resort.

The Minister told the audience that as Barbados and the rest of the world continued to face several external challenges, governments and its partners must move from policy to action.

Senator Blackman reasoned that achieving this required project specialists to be more “granular” in their efforts to improve the product portfolio performance standard based on the metrics used in the process, while being more innovative by ensuring that the sustainability of project outcomes improves the lives based on evidence and advice.

  “It therefore means that project teams must be the CEOs of change and the champion of exemplary project management techniques. We all understand the dynamic nature of projects and all the difficult circumstances relative to managing a project or programme when circumstances are changing rapidly in the face of risk, as well as uncertainty.

“It, therefore, calls for cross disciplinary thinking bolstered by a knowledge acquisition, and retention system while documenting lessons being learned, whilst also having the ability to unlock hidden opportunities to effectively remove any bottlenecks,” he stated.

Senator Blackman also underscored the importance of managing the scope of projects. “Managing scope, pre-budget change, and other endogenous and exogenous factors must also be engrained in a responsive and dynamic project management approach in executing projects.  Donor agencies must also be nimble and flexible when required.  [They] must look at your turn-around times, how projects are designed, and how they are approved. 

“Traditionally, we know donors normally give plus or minus five years for the execution of projects.  However, realistically, we know from the outset that the project is a six-year programme at the minimum.  This modality needs to be changed and also be more aligned with actual realities on the ground…. This process of streamlining is not only for loans but also relative to technical assistance,” he underlined. 

The Minister stressed that project managers must not operate in silos, adding that the function required a collaborative, agile, innovative, and dynamic leadership approach to the process.  

There was also an address from the IDB’s Country Manager, Viviana Alva Hart, along with presentations and panel discussions.

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