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Print Edition> Business
UPDATED: September 30, 2011 NO. 40 OCTOBER 6, 2011
Making Project Managers
Project management grows with and boosts China's economic development

TESTING FOR PERFECTION: A researcher conducts performance tests for new products in Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (LIANG XU)

At the congress, Wang Linshu, former chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways (MOR), cited how project management was introduced into the MOR and improved its operation. In the past, there were no rules for budget controls, which resulted in overspending and inefficient construction timetables. Since 2004, the legal person accountability system was introduced into the project management of railway construction. The project management body was responsible for taking out loans and making repayments in addition to construction. This forced the project managers to keep a closer eye over project finances, said Wang.

For Partleton, the key to a successful enterprise is being project-based. Project-based companies are exposed to relatively low levels of risk on particular projects because it enables the company to define customer requirements accurately and ensure that they are complied with as the project progresses.

Project management is the most important tool to improve a company's operation efficiency and break administrative barriers, said Hou Weigui, President of Shenzhen-based ZTE Corp., one of China's biggest telecommunications equipment makers.

ZTE's project management team consists of high-end management experts, project directors, thousands of project managers and about 8,000 engineers, safeguarding reliable end-to-end delivery services for network evolution of customers around the world. With advanced tools and project and engineering experience, ZTE carries out comprehensive project management activities in network construction, operation and maintenance from planning and design to implementation, maintenance, operation and contracted management, said Hou.

Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., one of the world's leading telecommunications solution suppliers, also experienced a transition period from that of a manufacturer to a comprehensive telecommunications solution provider. This new service-focused business required more sophisticated project management, said Bai.

In 2002, Huawei established an integrated mechanism to train and develop project managers and strengthen project management practices and processes. Project management has been the most important internal training course in Huawei. As of the end of 2010, Huawei had nearly 5,000 project managers with project management professional certification.

Project management is also essential to Chinese enterprises' global ambitions, said Bai.

At the congress, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) was awarded the PMI (China) Project Management Prize, the first oil refining company in China to receive this award. In its hunt for global acquisitions, CNOOC has bought stakes in oil assets in Africa, South America, the Middle East and Australia.

"Because of different business models and management systems, project management in oil companies is different from engineering companies. CNOOC started the special project manager certification project in 2007," said Chen Hai, Administrative Manager of Engineering and Construction Department of CNOOC.

More than any other nation, China is "where the action is" today in large-scale project management. "Your sustained investment in business expansion, in public works and in overseas market, partnerships and resources has helped pull the entire world economy through a difficult period," said Partleton.

"Growth opportunities for project management in China are limitless," Killough told Beijing Review.

Improvement needed

"Chinese companies should raise the professional management standards to increase the success rate of their projects and gain advantages in international competition," said Bai.

Lin Shaopei, professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said many Chinese construction companies lost money overseas because they lacked experience in managing projects and did not pay enough attention to cultural differences.

State-owned China Railway Group Ltd., for example, lost 550 million yuan ($86 million) in its highway construction project in Poland, which caused a decline in its net profit in the first half of this year.

Chinese corporate leadership lacks enough adaptability to address changing international situations, lacks enough management ability to avoid market risks, and lacks an international view to meet challenges that arise from globalized projects, said Lin.

In addition, Chinese enterprises are not experienced enough to win the confidence and trust from international management teams, said Lin.

While going global, Chinese enterprises need to cultivate people with international visions and a comprehensive knowledge structure in addition to professional techniques.

Chinese enterprises should improve their own management ability when going global, said Shen Danyang, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

He said MOFCOM will establish a scientific and standardized supervision and coordination mechanism as well as a quality management system to help Chinese enterprises going global.

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