project management for the development sector


Consortium of NGO's Focus on Project Management


NGO's work in every country around the world to improve living conditions, create access for health care, promote education, and many more causes that incrementally lead us to a more peaceful world. For those of us in the project management profession, it is easy to see this work as a never ending series of projects. Key people in the NGO community have come to the same conclusion.

PM4NGOs was launched in 2010. This non-profit's stated mission is to maximize the impact of project investments for donors and beneficiaries. To do that, PM4NGO's pursues two primary strategies:

  1. Promote and enable professional project management practices to be contextualized for the development and humanitarian environments
  2. Develop and maintain standards for project management in development and humanitarian agencies
To understand why these NGO's felt compelled to develop a unique set of standards requires a little insight into how development and humanitarian projects differ from commercial and government projects.
Focus is on Long Term Results 
NGO's often work on issues where it takes years to demonstrate progress.  As a result, their typical project lifecycle emphasizes Design and Monitoring and Evaluation. 
  • Design entails studying a problem and devising strategies that can produce measurable change.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation are performed over a period of time to track the actual changes that take place.
Another NGO project characteristic is the relationship with the donor. An NGO might find a terrific opportunity to make a difference, but they must sell that idea to a donor. There is a pretty obvious link between donors and Design, Monitoring and Evaluation: donors fund a good design and require ongoing proof that the strategies are producing results.
As a result, the NGO community has long focused on these factors in their projects and programs. They have well developed program management standards that have been crafted to address the factors mentioned above as well as factors related to working in developing countries.  But among these standards, modern project management techniques were not prominent.  PM4NGOs is changing that.
In 2007,  professionals that have managed development and relief projects for decades came together to jointly develop a project management standard that contextualized the expertise of prominent project management professional associations. The result was the Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro), a document that is also the basis for a certification exam. Over the next three years this dedicated group refined their standard and exam, taking it to over 30 countries and presenting it to field based project managers. PM4NGOs was born of this effort.
Accessible and Affordable
PM4NGOs puts a special emphasis on serving its unique audience. “A very important role of PM4NGOs is to make certain that access to the new certification is broad and the price affordable” said Vadim Usvitsky, PM4NGOs Board Chair. “We work in an environment where professional credentials are very important but not often available. We want to make sure the PMD Pro reaches all project managers that are interested.”
The focus on being accessible and affordable is a legacy of LINGOs, the non-profit learning consortium that was the original driving force of this initiative.
Board is Diverse, Experienced
Founding board members were drawn from major NGOs and from the project management community to ensure that PM4NGOs will be relevant and credible. Vadim Usvitsky, Director of Special Projects at World Vision International was elected the Chairman of the Board. Other officers included Trevor K. Nelson of Nelson Project Consulting, Leah Radstone of APMGroup and Barbara Wallace of InterAction.
Other Board Members include Eric Verzuh, CEO of the Versatile Company, a Registered Education Provider of PMI, Martin McCann, CEO of RedR, Mike Culligan, Director of Technology and Projects, LINGOs, David Palasits, Manager of Staff Development and training for Catholic Relief Services, Steve Marks, Director of Project Performance Consulting Ltd and John Cropper, Program Manager for Oxfam.


Comments are closed on this post.