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What does Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s training share with development best practices?

Jamaican Olympic Champion runner, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has achieved the pinnacle of her sport through years of intense training and fine tuning her skills. What she has achieved has much in common with what development specialists seek to create with sustainable programmes.

With the backdrop of decades of stagnant economic growth, high debt-GDP ratios, growing current account and fiscal deficits that threaten to erode hard earned social and economic gains, why should we care about project management? The answer may be simpler than you think. Perhaps we need to look no further than underperforming Public Sector Investment Programmes (PSIPs) in select Caribbean countries. The PSIP comprises a selection of core capital projects that reflects government’s strategic capital investments over the medium term that, if implemented over several planning periods, would result in deliberate advancement of national development goals.  It stands to reason that, ultimately for national development goals to be achieved, we must more effectively initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control, and close these projects/programmes.

As development practitioners, we must support and inculcate project management best practices in our day-to-day work. Multilateral institutions like the IDB, through their country offices, must play a leadership role in this process. Country offices should strive to become centers of excellence in project management to ensure that the projects that they sponsor are prepared and executed, in accordance with acceptable practices.  In Country Office Trinidad and Tobago, five staff members from the IDB’s country office became Project Management Professionals (http://www.pmi.org/ ) and more than 70 staff members from client executing units/agencies were trained in PM under a dedicated Project Leadership series. Ultimately, we expect that this this would encourage the wider use of project management best practices in Bank financed projects.

Notwithstanding the fact that the portion of multilateral development-financed component of these PSIPs are relatively small, the strategic importance of well prepared and executed portfolios financed by development institutions should not be understated. Particularly since these development-financed projects in the respective PSIPs are intended to be transformational from a sector and national perspective. We expect that these projects would have visibly measurable results as found on the IDB’s MapsAmerica website, http://www.iadb.org/en/mapamericas/trinidad-and-tobago/mapamericas-project-results-in-trinidad-and-tobago,7777.html  and more importantly have real effectiveness and significant impacts on development in the respective countries.

Julian Belgrave is a Senior Operations Specialist based in Trinidad and Tobago at IDB’s Port of Spain Office.

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