Do you want to help advance the practice, science and profession of project, program and portfolio management in Denmark? And are you interested in mentoring, challenging and engaging young people with interest in project, program and portfolio management? If you can answer “yes” to any of those questions, then maybe you are just the one PMI Denmark is looking for.

PMI Denmark is increasing its collaboration with academia, and one of our initiatives is to facilitate the match between Master Thesis industrial sponsors/supervisor in the industry and engaged students in universities. Ideally, the Sponsor/Supervisor is working at a private or public organization in an area related to project, program and portfolio management and is committed to sponsor the development of a topic or question that a student could investigate in depth through his or her Master Thesis.

Why:  Master thesis is an opportunity to identify and solve a small problem, to test new ideas, and to contribute to education of young talents. The master thesis can also work as a mutually beneficial long job interview, where you can work together with a student before hiring him for permanent position.

Topic: In general, defining the topic is a process based on the collaboration and dialogue between industrial supervisor, student and academic supervisor. Scoping the thesis takes time and therefore early involvement is advisable. That is why I suggest an ‘initiation period’ before the official start of the master thesis (see below).

The topic should be related with a real problem, and analysed in a structured manner, with support from an academic discipline. The student is expected to review current literature, and use concepts and theories to approach the problem.

Ideally, the topic should be related to supervisor’s and/or industry’s interests and knowledge area, and, if possible, something the student has already touched upon during previous courses.

Example of topics:

-          Analysis of digitalisation initiatives in projects

-          Analysis and improvement of information displays for project decision making

-          Development of a case study of a particularly good project (to be shared with other employees)

-          Understanding of needs for tool/process and/or implementation of such process/tool

-          Analysis of level of adoption of a new initiative, e.g. the deployment of a training program

-          Analysis of decision making processes in e.g. vendor selection or committee meetings

-          Observation and suggestions to de-bias project estimations and decisions

-          Analysis of initiatives to implement agile or scale up agile or hybrid models in the organization

Roles and Responsibilities:

As industrial supervisor, you will be involved in varying degrees depending on the nature of engagement of students. If student has internship in the company, a stronger time commitment is common. Usually industrial supervision involves periodic meetings with students – more frequent in the beginning and end, and sporadic in between. The meetings will help students to understand the organisation (access to the right people, understand who is who, etc). Usually, the industrial partner’s responsibilities involve:

  • · guidance to ensure practical relevance of the research
  • · help student to understand the company and the problem
  • · help student to access data, e.g. help arrange interviews with key people (we can expect the student to contact and schedule meetings with support)
  • · constructive conversations about the topic of the thesis based on their experience

Students will work on the thesis in a fulltime or close to fulltime basis. Usually students are mature, have had some exposure to industry and can manage the thesis and themselves under academic and industrial guidance. The student is the ultimate responsible for the work, and its quality.

Academic supervisor(s) will provide academic support, this entails theoretical, analytical and methodological guidance. Usually supervision takes place around every second week. Disclaimer: The university cannot guarantee quality of academic work nor the practical impact of the thesis.

Process: It is useful to establish formal stage gates upfront. They work like stage-gates of the project and ensures a smoother development of the thesis project. The milestones usually drive and motivate the students to deliver high quality work in line with intended objectives across the entire time of the master. It also helps to steer the project to yield relevant results to all.

Classic stage gates and milestones are (based on 6 months, 24 wks plan):

  • · ALL: A: Kick-off (approx. Week 1): describe potential topics and decide on the topic. Initial conversation about the problem(s)
  • · ALL: B: Problem (approx. Week 5): present current overview of potential problems, decide on ‘the’ problem
  • · UNIVERSITY: C: Literature review, research question (approx. Week 9): present state of the art and decide on specific question to be answered through the thesis
  • · ALL: D: Theory and Methodology (approx. Week 13): decide theoretical framing, and how to investigate the problem and establish first contact points (e.g. survey, or interviews, or cases, or implementation of alternative method and observe results, or experiments…)
  • · ALL: E: Preliminary data analysis (approx. Week 17): present data collected, and discuss findings and implications, decide on need for further data collection
  • · ALL: F: Final presentation to company (approx. Week 22)
  • · Delivery of final report and oral examination (approx. week 24) (presence of industrial supervisor is not required but encouraged)

Timeframe

-          Period 1: Initiation: Nov/Dec; Official start: Jan; Closure: Jun

-          Period 2: Initiation: May/June; Official start: Sept; Closure: Dec

Next step: Consider first ideas of topics and contact Joana Geraldi, jge.ioa@cbs.dk, no later than September 30.