#PMFlashBlog: Project Management Around the World – Castilla y León – Spain

Status of Project Management in Castilla y León

Castilla y León is a large region in Northern Spain characterized by a widely dispersed population, and an economic activity based on traditional sectors, consisting of small and medium enterprises. It is internationally recognized for the export of wine from Ribera del Duero, the study of Spanish in universities in Salamanca, Burgos and Valladolid and its cultural heritage. More recently, the archaeological findings of Homo antecessor in Atapuerca (Burgos) has added to the region’s reputation.

This study by Castilla y León Económica on the ranking of the largest companies in the region, is useful to get an idea of its production network.

Deducing from employee numbers, the study reveals that only 1.8% of companies in the region have more than 250 workers. This percentage represents only 114 large companies, most of which are multinationals headquartered abroad. The other activities are small and medium enterprises.

By sector, agri-food industry, trade and construction are those that have increased activity in the region. This has had an effect on Project Management, since traditionally, none of these sectors has been using any Project Management methodology. Only multinational companies with Anglosaxon head offices and leading export-oriented companies have a project-oriented culture.


* The First Europeans. Treasuers form the hills of Atapuerca. American Museum of Natural Histoy, NY.

In a more general way, PMI Madrid Spain Chapter‘s report completes the bigger picture with the study of Project Management in Spain. From this study we can conclude that the highest percentage of PMP-certified Project Managers belong to large companies in the services and IT sectors, which are used to operating in the international market.

Currently, it is these big companies that hire the majority of certified professionals, to ensure the results of international projects, to minimize project risks and to collaborate with other service companies abroad by using common methodologies such as PMI .

The fabric of Spanish industry focused on SMEs.

The way in which SMEs can apply Project Management is influenced by the characteristics of these smaller types of companies. In most cases, they do not use any specific methodology of Project Management, although their activities can be project-oriented. There is also a lack of knowledge regarding the benefits of good project management, as they tend see such methods as being out of reach or consider them too expensive to implement for their way of working.

We can distinguish two types of SMEs to which Project Management may be applied, based on their activity:

  • Those companies that perform projects as a service to external customers such as architectural firms, law firms, web developers, etc. For these companies each project is unique, depending on the client. The benefits of project management are based on greater control over their projects, continuous process improvement and increased competitiveness.
  • Companies that do not specifically work on a project basis, but perform specific projects to implement changes in their business. These small companies implement projects where the internal customer is the company itself, such as the launch of a new product, a marketing campaign, or the introduction of a new production system. The business benefits include improved productivity or the exploitation of a business opportunity.

In Spain, 60% of organizations can be included in these two types of small and medium enterprises. This percentage rises up to 98% in the case of Castilla y León.

The conclusion is that, traditionally, Spanish SMEs do not use any project management methodology mainly due to the following obstacles:

  • Lack of resources to implement new procedures.
  • Management and proprietor are the same person. They have very traditional and hierarchical structures.
  • The same people execute and manage several projects at once. Technical staff is usually overworked.
  • Inadequate information systems. There are no internal procedures for improvement.

Such obstacles to the implementation of Project Management in SMEs are overcome only if we have the business management’s support. Management must understand the improvement Project Management represents for the control of projects and for the business itself. Having the project under control and building on lessons learned for the next project is something that is very valuable, and it would itself justify the implementation of project management in SMEs.

The implementation of a management system, such as the PMI methodology, should be promoted based on the knowledge and support of it by management. In this sense, the PMI Castilla and León Branch of Madrid Spain Chapter was created, in which we actively participate, with the mission to spread and promote project management in Castilla y León’s industrial fabric.

However, because of the effects of a shrunken internal market, many of these SMEs companies in Spain, and in Castilla y León, are focusing their activities on improving their competitiveness and exports.

In this new landscape, even small and medium enterprises are demanding training for their specialists in international standards of Project Management that will allow them to compete abroad. Thus, traditional sectors such as construction and public works are looking for a solution to the crisis through the professionalization of their technicians and increased access to foreign markets. In this sense, the PMI Madrid Spain Chapter is one of those with the highest recorded growth in membership in the world particularly with new professionals from sectors where no methodology in project management was used previously.

* Protos Winery by Richard Rogers

Project Management, trend or need?

Under these circumstances, has Project Management become a fad or a necessity for businesses? Do Spanish SMEs really understand the extent to which they can benefit from Project Management?

This is a difficult question to answer, and for that we have opened a debate with the hashtag #PMideas where several professionals will give their views on this issue on March 24th.

Companies no longer only ask that their technicians be certified and possess some skills in project management in order to spread it on their book. This could be considered a fashion with no added value for the organization. In contrast, the professional is asked to leave the «controller» role in the projects, to become a facilitator for the development of the company strategy. Whether companies are multinational or small local industries, they are demanding from Project Managers a more comprehensive and integrated approach within the structure of the company, with a clear vision of the strategy and objectives of the organization.

Projects have become a necessity for companies in order to implement the changes they need to undertake to adapt to foreign markets.  Projects are no longer only a tool to develop services and have become the system whereby value is created for the company.

Conclusions on Project Management in Castilla y León

  •  The bulk of economic activity in Castilla y Leon is developed in small and medium enterprises in traditional sectors.
  •  Yet many organizations do not use Project Management as a development strategy for the company.
  •  Business organizations need a greater number of qualified project managers for all their types of projects.
  • Companies have the need for professionals with a clear strategic vision of the organization, that adjusts projects and business opportunities to add value to the achievement of the objectives of the organization’s management.
  • Selection and prioritization of projects have become a critical issue for business competitiveness and externalization. Project Management has become a must.

About “#PMFlashBlog – Project Management Around the World”

This post is part of the second round of the #PMFlashBlog where over 50 project management bloggers will release a post about their view of project management in their part of the world. Beginning with North America then followed by Europe & Australia bloggers will post their view each Monday for several weeks until we have gone around the world.

Other #PMFlashBlog Participants