A Letter to Covid



Project Business Management

By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany


The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of project business and of training. What can we expect for the future?

Dear SARS-CoV-2 virus,

Wow, the Covid-19 pandemic that you caused changed the world. You are such a small thing; your diameter is just 100nm. One has difficulties making you out even in the best light microscopes, so electron microscopy is necessary to make you visible. You are unable to reproduce yourself, so you need body cells to do the job for you. In our case, human body cells, of course.

You are only not a living being; you also have zero intelligence. All you can do is, while corporate cells reproduce you, wait for mistakes in the process that will lead to mutations, and further hope that some of these mutations will be even more contagious.

And you are a true weakling. If a bunch of you is floating in aerosols, 50% of you will vanish in an hour. You last longer on surfaces, but even there, your lifespan is limited to a few days. You are easy to keep off; keeping distance, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and wearing masks, particularly when inside, is sufficient. And now, we have vaccines that have been proven effective and safe.

You lost.

So, why am I writing this letter to you?

In the two disciplines that I am interested in, training and project business management, you turned the world upside down. Let’s begin with project business:

Project Business Management

Cross-corporate performance of projects had become more and more the usual way of doing projects before you came into the world, which was probably in fall 2019. There was a measurable trend from internal projects to projects done with customers and contractors, often with multi-tier project supply networks (PSNs) doing the project for a paying end customer, sometimes called “owner”. In project business, projects become the source of income, profit centers, for contractors. For customers, project business means that money is leaving the company, so they want to make sure they get what they ordered and are prepared to pay for.

Figure 1: Success criteria in project business management

The Project Business Foundation and the Project Management Institute (PMI) conducted a joint study in June 2020[1] to identify your impact on Project Business. 80% of the respondents reported a negative impact, almost half of them said this impact was “extremely negative”. Talking with practitioners, most had stories of how it became difficult to serve the customer and deliver ordered products and services. They also found timely payments affected.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Project Business Management” (ISBN 9781138197503), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2018. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehmann, O. (2021). A Letter to Covid, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/pmwj107-Jul2021-Lehmann-A-Letter-to-Covid-PBM-series-article2.pdf

 About the Author

Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany


Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP, is a project management educator, author, consultant, and speaker. In addition, he is the President of the Project Business Foundation, the home association for professionals and organizations involved in cross-corporate projects.

He studied Linguistics, Literature and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree. Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, USA, and Asia in methodological project management with a focus on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998, and served as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter from 2013 to 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch”, analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience, and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and can be contacted at oliver@oliverlehmann.com.

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the books:

His previous articles and papers for PM World Journal can be found here: https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/oliver-f-lehmann/