Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management


5.4. Project Management: Its significance in cultural heritage projects


All of mankind’s greatest accomplishments—from building the Parthenon

to discovering a cure for polio to putting a man on the moon—began

as a project.


Project management belong to the realm of short-term policies and actions. We will try to give an idea of what Project Management (PM) is about and why is useful in cultural heritage projects. In this general overview some of the stages in project planning and development are explicitly not included, like risk management, or estimation of time, cost and resources, as the purpose of the chapter is an introduction and not a full analysis of PM.  Let’s start!


What is a project?

“A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” (Project Management Institute, Inc, 2017)

As someone may understand everything can be named as a project. But let’s see some results from the field of cultural heritage. The “idea of an online training manual about lifelong learning in the field of cultural heritage management” is a project, “an educational program for children”, is also a project, and even the endeavour of the city’s council to create “the cultural map of the local area”, can be a project. Moreover, all the above may create unique products/services or results but they have got some common characteristics. Their implementation from the idea to the final result (the manual, the educational activity, the cultural mapping) include a nonroutine, an one-time effort  in terms of time, budget, resources, and performance specifications designed to meet “customer” needs.

A project has these characteristics:

●       It has an established objective.

●       It has a defined beginning and endpoint.

●       There is a team involved in the project and a project manager who closely controls them and makes sure that team members work well together even if they come from different sectors

Every project is unique. Study the project carefully. No matter if it is about something that has already been done, some characteristics of the project may vary and be crucial for its successful implementation. The unique nature of a project work is also clarified in terms of the project life cycle: Defining, Planning, Executing and Closure.



Project life Cycle




Goals, Specifications, Tasks, Responsibilities


Schedules, Budgets, Resources, Risks, Staffing


Status reports, Changes, Quality, Forecasts


Train customer, Transfer documents, Release resources, Evaluation, Lessons learned

Table 1: Project life Cycle (sourcePmi.org :Project Management Institute, Inc, 2017)


Ø  Estimate Project times, costs and performance requirements. The balance between these three constraints is the key for the successful project’s implementation.


When you want to create a project always have in mind:

●      Product - What am I going to deliver?

●      Quality expectations – are there any specific requirements I have to meet?

●      Time- start and end point

●      Cost – financial resources


☝     Program vs project

●      The basic difference between these two is that a program includes lots of projects.

●      These are series of coordinated, related, multiple projects that continue over an extended time and are intended to achieve a goal.

●      A project compared to a program has a different scale and time span.

e.g:    Program: The Erasmus+

Project: The DenCupid project


What is Project Management, why it is important in cultural heritage projects and who is the Project Manager!

Project Management is the tool that improves the ability of people to plan, implement and manage activities to accomplish specific organizational objectives. It is also a way to build strong collaborative relationships between partners involved in the project.

Any complex project involving multiple activities and deadlines requires some form of management because everything is about planning, organizing, forecasting, using all the resources, implementing, spending less money and in the end, keep the client satisfied.


Why is it important ?

It compresses the product’s life cycle (final deliverables, e.g a training manual, a cultural heritage map, etc) 

Customization: every project is specially designed for the client

In the case that the program management is executed only by one department that may not have an overview of other projects, current or future,  that the organization has (centralized management) the advantages are many:

●      Clear overview and manage of all the project’s activities

●      Very good allocation of the organizational resources

●      Risk assessment

●      It measures the ability of the firm to manage projects compared to competitors

●      It links the project management (senior) to execution management.

But there is a disadvantage, too:

●      May not prioritize the projects by their importance of their contribution to the organization

Table 2: source Pmi.org : Project Management Institute, Inc, 2017)


The following table shows the basic areas where PM is essential. Through PM it will be easier to control the project life cycle, to identify all the risks and forecast immediate solutions, create milestones, manage time and resources and in general to have a clear oversight of the entire project. Take a look at the drawing: ”An overview of Project Management” where the main steps of  process of project management are depicted.


Figure 1: An overview of Project Management  


Source (Larson W. Erik & Gray F. Clifford, 2011)

Who is the Project Manager?

The person who manages temporary, non repetitive activities and who has the advantage to act independently of the formal organization most of the times. He/she is the key person for the successful implementation of the project because:

●      He is the linkage between the organization and the public/customers

●      He plans, schedules and motivates the project

●      He controls all the procedures and activities

●      If necessary he provides coordination, direction and integration to the project team

●      He identifies and allocates the project’s resources

●      His main responsibility is: to induce the right person at the right time to deal with the right issues and make the right decision.

Simple tools for PMPlan:

❶     Gantt chart (simplified)

Using simple project management techniques like a Gantt chart, might be a step in stone for the success of the project.

Gantt Chart: Named after Henry Gantt (1861-1919). Is a clear visual representation of tasks/activities, all the basic elements of the project, all in one diagram.

Figure 2: Model of Gantt Chart (source: internet)


General characteristics:

●       Schedule different stages of the project based on time

●       Set milestones

●       Clarify the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS )

●       Identify the tasks that may be carried out concurrently, consecutively or may start before another task is completed.


☝     Tips: Work always backwards. All the individual tasks/activities should be scheduled backwards. Start from the deadline and go backwards.


❷     ΑΟΑ method (Activity –on-arrow-method): (simplified version)

The main characteristic of this method is that projects are represented as networks in which activities correspond to arcs. To be more specific:

o   Arcs are activities

o   Nodes are events

o   Event is the state of progress of a project

o   Paths are prerequisite information

o   We need a list of activities and their prerequisites


Example: Assessing cultural and heritage assets (see next chapter)




Inventories of Heritage Assets



Mapping of Values of Heritage Assets



Include value assessment data in planning




☝     Extra tips:

o   Each activity should appear exactly once as an arch of the network

o   There should be at most one arch between each pair of nodes


As we have already mentioned the purpose of this chapter is to get to know the basics of Project Management. For you who probably need a more detailed approach we suggest to make your own research through the bibliography in order to get the overall idea and to choose what is best for him. The indicative list of references is a good start!