Dear Project Manager. Just imagine you are commissioned to manage a SmartCity Project. I guess some doubts about such projects will arise. Here I tell you some learned lessons along the last two years manageing a SmartCity project and give you my vision about the need to apply the PMBOK methodology as well as the recommendation for you to get certified and apply it the best way possible in your project.
But before… let’s talk about SmartCity projects…
Some councils plan their smart cities from the strategy, others face these challenges from the tactic. Which option gives better results is out of the scope of this post, but in any case, although time will judge my criteria right or not, from my humble perspective, in general, is the strategy, which should lead a SmartCity Project. Specially for big sized cities, with highly complicated logistics and public services delivery. The SmartCity projects should always be _city projects_ and not only _technical projects_.
Besides, in general terms there are two different ways to face these transformation projects. Some cities, go over the “smartization” process in a “vertical” fashion, this is, service by service, with multiple ad hoc solutions/platforms, solving once and again similar issues, instead of solving it once for all of the cases. This leads to inefficiencies. Other cities consider a horizontal approach, by means of a common platform, a SmartCity platform.
The first approach may result in quick, short-term results but makes it difficult to generate synergies among the existing services and relate their information in order to take smart decisions on city matters, whereas when using horizontal smartcity platforms it is possible to go over a services integration and transformation process which allows all the said before. It takes time and effort as it is short of a serial process, which means good planning.
Additionally I must say, some relevant market analysts believe cities betting on the second option work better. (see this “Research Note” by Machina Research “Smart cities work best when supported by a central platform solution“).
In Smart City projects, the challenges are many, the stakeholders are many, with many and very different interests, every single municipal service has its own characteristics and complexity, ones more than others, everyone different to another.
Some of the complexities of these projects, from my perspective, are that although it all seems possible just by having a powerful platform, the basis to achieve it is _the information_. The first thing is to be able to get related relevant information in the easiest and most automated way possible (i.e. with the least transformations possible). This, which may seem easy nowadays, it is not that much. A city hall has a highly diverse information system ecosystem, which makes things hard in order to obtain the right information, and integrate it easily in a platform.
This happens in City Halls with good IT means!, In other less budgeted and with less resources the “smartization” process may start at digitizing the information… Without this, i.e. _the information_, many things are just not possible. It may seem obvious for most of you but I honestly believe it’s worth reminding it.
Yet another challenge is coordinate the project plan with the opportunity to transform a given municipal service.
This is complex just by the fact that in most of the occasions, municipal services have long time-span contracts, during these even 10 or 15 years!, forcing the smart city teams to sharpen their wits to get to transform these services without having to wait the next public call to bid for these services.
You may think why am I telling all these above… well, because in any case/project, but specially in complex projects like the platform based SmartCity projects, it is difficult to manage the above called “smartization” process. Things can get really ugly in case you a project management methodology is not used. Which justifies, in special, from my point of view, the use of PMBOK (see http://www.pmi.org/ ).
Why?, because PMBOK gathers and describes all potentially nedeed processes to manage projects of high complexity. Moreover, a SmartCity project may end up, in fact ends up, transformed in a project portfolio, something also supported by the methodology, with professional certifications guaranteeing their knowledge, such as (PfMP, Portfolio Management Professional).
Obviously, as it happens with any other professional certification, “the suit doesn´t make the man”, in the end, there always be challenges not solved directly by applying any methodology , but by good PMP practitioners.
Counting on certified and qualified PMPs is something recommended when facing this type of complex projects. Of course it is not only recommended to apply the PMP methodology but also others. For all the information integration aspects applying agile methodologies to reduce development and deploy time as the project goes forward. Otherwise it would be impossible to handle.