Project and Program Management Acumen

The Catalyst for Industry 4.0 Organizational Success



By Prof. Dr. Pieter Steyn

Cranefield College, South Africa


Prof. Dr. Brane Semolič

LENS Living Lab, Slovenia




The shift from computerization and automation of Industry 3.0 to innovation based on combinations of complex digital Industry 4.0 enabling technologies, is forcing organizations to re-examine the manner in which they operate and do business. It is evident that technology changes are not enough to achieve expected results, as was the case in the past. Critical integrators of new value chains and business processes are collaborative projects and programs that act as organisational vehicles and enablers of novelties, transformation and change, technologies, and systems. A profound ability to make good judgments and take quick decisions is of paramount importance. This article discusses achievement of organizational success through enhanced project and program management practices with respect to Industry 4.0.

Keywords:   Industry 4.0, virtual organizations, new business models, new competencies, program and project management acumen, collaboratist leadership.


  1. Industry 4.0 – The Advent of New Business Needs and Competencies

The world is witnessing profound transformation and change in all areas of private and public corporate life in the Industry 4.0 economy.  Organizational and private lives are becoming highly volatile and value-driven, demanding continuous innovation and learning. These changes, caused by the inflow of new digital enabling technologies intertwining with our daily lives, influence the way we are performing our organizational activities and daily chores. Moreover, this is only the first taste of dramatic changes in the years to come.

The Third Industrial Revolution (Industry 3.0) saw computerization, optimization and automation of organisational resources as major success factors. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) business ecosystem in which the world now finds itself does not depend only on computerization, automation, innovation, optimization, and competitiveness of resources, but also on inter-organizational value chain innovativeness, complementary partner technologies, innovative products, digitization and supporting services systems.

According to the World Economic Forum, Industry 4.0 affects four main organizational elements, i.e. customer expectations, product enhancement, collaborative innovation, and organizational forms. Customers are increasingly at the epicentre of the economy. Leaders and managers have a duty to ensure that design for customer needs delivers a competitive advantage. In the Industry 4.0 economy an effective and efficient design capability has emerged as an important competitive key success factor. The advent of modern key enabling technologies (KETs) and virtual networks of organizational and knowledge-worker partners are supportive of the above. The Industry 4.0 explosion of complexity is caused by rapid development of global markets and the continuous creation of new technologies and products. This stimulates the emergence of new forms of organizations and competences (Steyn and Semolič, 2016).

The aim of key enabling technologies is overall digitalization with the internet of things (IoT) and services. Industry 4.0 strategic transformation and change, driven by modern information and communication technologies (ICT) artefacts, allow for the introduction and integration of new business models of vertical and horizontal supply and value chains. Moreover, the dynamic complexity of the modern technologies – robotics, artificial intelligence, mass data, IoT, and the integration of information technology and operations technology, to name but a few – calls for specialization and sustainable collaboration among partner organizations, and also demands appropriate organizational forms, mindsets, and human talent (Semolič and Steyn, 2017).

It is evident that technology changes are not enough to achieve expected results, as was the case in the past. Renown American trend forecaster, Gerald Celente (1997), on the issue that futurists often equate advances in technology with advances in civilization, opines that it requires a good understanding of how novelties will affect personal and business lives, organizations of all kinds, and how it will reshape organizational landscapes, societies and culture. He claims that it is therefor vitally important to gain a holistic understanding of the risks involved and to plan appropriate solutions for the timely mitigation of the risk and associated complexity. This is where we are in the current Fourth Industrial Revolution. The burning question is how organizations can successfully cope with such complex strategic transformation and change processes. Knowledge and insight into every segment of Industry 4.0 technology and businesses complexity phenomena are needed to understand and manage it successfully.

Consequently, organization design, development, and governance have entered a challenging new phase with project management acumen as foundation. Innovative inter-organizational value and supply chains are created in collaboration with partners, and these resultantly operate in a local, regional and global collaborative organizational ecosystem. Innovative product, service, as alo, process design and development have become complex and highly important project-driven competitive factors. The emergence of new business models means that organizational culture, the harnessing of human talent, and organizational forms need profound adjustment. Importantly, supply chain- and project processes are being shaped cross-functionally in the Industry 4.0 organizational value chain and are program-managed.  The shift from computerization and automation of Industry 3.0 to innovation based on combinations of complex Industry 4.0 technologies, is forcing organizations to re-examine the manner in which they operate and do business (Steyn and Semolič, 2018).


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How to cite this paper: Steyn, P. & Semolič, B. (2018). Project and Program Management Acumen: The Catalyst for Industry 4.0 Organizational Success, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII – September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Steyn-Semolic-Steyn-project-and-program-management-acumen.pdf



About the Authors

Prof Dr Pieter Steyn

Founder, Director, Principal
Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management
Pretoria & Western Cape, South Africa



Dr Pieter Steyn is Founder and Principal of Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management, a South African Council on Higher Education / Department of Education accredited and registered Private Higher Education Institution. The Institution offers an Advanced Certificate, Advanced Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s degree, and PhD in project and programme-based leadership and management. Professor Steyn holds the degrees BSc (Eng), MBA, and PhD in management, and is a registered Professional Engineer.

He was formerly professor in the Department of Management, University of South Africa and Pretoria University Business School. He founded the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and in 1979 pioneered Project Management as a university subject at the post-graduate level at the University of South Africa.

Dr Steyn founded consulting engineering firm Steyn & Van Rensburg (SVR). Projects by SVR include First National Bank Head Office (Bank City), Standard Bank Head Office, Mandela Square Shopping Centre (in Johannesburg) as also, Game City- and The Wheel Shopping Centres (in Durban). He, inter alia, chaired the Commission of Enquiry into the Swaziland Civil Service; and acted as Programme Manager for the Strategic Transformation of the Gauteng Government’s Welfare Department and Corporate Core.

Pieter co-authored the “International Handbook of Production and Operations Management,” (Cassell, London, 1989, ed. Ray Wild) and is the author of many articles and papers on leadership and management. He is a member of the Association of Business Leadership, Industrial Engineering Institute, Engineering Association of South Africa, and Project Management South Africa (PMSA); and a former member of the Research Management Board of IPMA. He serves on the Editorial Board of the PM World Journal. Pieter is also Director of the De Doornkraal Wine Estate in Riversdale, Western Cape.

Professor Steyn can be contacted at cranefield1@cranefield.ac.za. For information about Cranefield College, visit www.cranefield.ac.za.

To view other works by Prof Steyn, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-pieter-steyn/


Prof Dr Brane Semolič

Founder and Head of LENS Living Lab –
International living laboratory
Celje, Slovenia



Brane Semolič studied mechanical engineering, engineering economics, and informatics; he holds a scientific master degree and doctorate in business informatics. His focus of professional interest is industrial and system engineering, innovation and technology management, virtual organizations and systems, project and knowledge management. He has 40 years of working experiences in different industries (industrial engineering, IT, chemicals, household appliances, government, and education), as an expert, researcher, manager, entrepreneur, counselor to the Slovenian government and professor.  He operates as head of the open research and innovation organization LENS Living Lab. LENS Living Lab is an international industry-driven virtual living laboratory. He is acting as initiator and coordinator of various research and innovation collaboration platforms, programs and projects for the needs of different industries (ICT, robotics, laser additive manufacturing, logistics, education). He was co-founder and the first director of the TCS – Toolmakers Cluster of Slovenia (EU automotive industry suppliers). Since 2004 he is serving as the president of the TCS council of experts. Besides this, he is operating as a part-time professor at the Cranefield College.

He was head of project and information systems laboratory at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Head of the Project & Technology Management Institute at the Faculty of Logistics, University of Maribor and professor of project and technology management at the graduate and postgraduate level. He acted as a trainer at the International »European Project Manager« post-graduated program, organized jointly by the University of Bremen.

He was the co-founder and president of the Project Management Association of Slovenia (ZPM), vice president of IPMA (International Project Management Association), chairman of the IPMA Research Management Board (2005-2012), and technical vice-chairman of ICEC (International Cost Engineering Council).  Now he is serving as a director of the IPMA & ICEC strategic alliance. He actively participated in the development of the IPMA 4-level project managers’ certification program. He introduced and was the first director of the IPMA certification program in Slovenia. He has been serving as the assessor in this certification program since 1997. He performed as assessor in the IPMA International PM Excellence Award Program in China, India, and Slovenia.

He is a registered assessor for the accreditation of education programs and education organizations by the EU-Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

He was a Member of Strategic Advisory Board of European Competitiveness and Innovation, as well as the president of the Slovenian Chamber of Business Services.

Brane received the award as ICEC Distinguished International Fellow in 2008. He received the »Silver Sign« for his achievements in research, education, and collaboration with the industry from the University of Maribor in 2015.

Professor Semolič is also an academic advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at brane.semolic@3-lab.eu.   Additional information about the LENS Living Lab can be found at http://www.3-lab.eu/ .

To view other works by Prof Semolic, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/brane-semolic/