Most of my career, I have worked in the for-profit sector of the economy and is mainly the reason I believe in capitalism. Even in a capitalistic system, you have non-profit organizations that are in need of project managers, maybe not so much in IT, but definitely in the business side of an organization. Which brings up the question; is project management (PM) so different in the non-profit sector?
Budget, Schedule and Scope
The triple constraint is still a for PM, even in the non-profit sector. And if the non-profit is a charitable organization, maybe more of a constraint on the budget. But let’s speak about government as a non-profit organization. Even state or local governments have strict contract restrictions, for the most part, for any project work. They may not have a full Project Management Office (PMO) and contract the PM work out, but even government agencies have strict budgetary constraints. I know on the federal level, especially for defense work, their contracts are under great restrictions. I live not so far from a military base, and have spoken to many government contractors and the $500 hammer in the budget is a myth. So if budget is strictly reviewed, so is schedule and scope. This is not to say that changes don’t occur in government projects. As in the for-profit sector, regulations or even something as un-thought of as weather can change a project.
Sure, in any political election season things may be more political, but office politics are basically the same in non-profit as they are in for-profit. And you have to navigate these waters as close as you do in the for-profit sector. For example, in the educational sector, individuals are very concerned about being tenured. So a project cannot disrupt that career path, especially an over budget project. In state government offices, schedule is strictly followed and reviewed as is scope. That’s because it ties into the budget. You have longer projects, so change happens more easily and must be strictly regulated. However, that is the same for for-profit in many ways. When was the last time you as a PM were given a blank check? Correct, never. So it is with non-profits.
Difference in Managing?
You must manage your project reports, peers and managers in the same fashion in the non-profit sector as you would for the for-profit sector. The only difference I have seen as the layers of management. Where for-profit concerns are becoming flatter in organizational areas, the non-profit is still hung on titles and levels of management. That may mean more management for the PM, but the PM has to navigate these waters in the same manner as the PM would in the for-profit sector.
I am interested in hearing from PMs in the non-profit sectors. Please connect with me and weigh in on the discussion.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.