EUPMAN stands for ‘EU Project Managers Association in the Netherlands'.
Following a meeting in 2006 at EG-Liaison (the centre of expertise for the European Framework Programme in the Netherlands) and the resulting contacts that were established in 2007, a number of people suggested a new forum where experiences relating to daily problems faced by project managers during the execution of FP projects could be exchanged and discussed. ‘What types of issues arise when executing a project?’ ‘What problems should you anticipate?’ There is a jungle of available information about FP projects: ‘How do you work out the best route?’
The initiators were under the impression that project managers had to reinvent the wheel at the outset of each project. There was a need to deal with practical questions in a group setting. Besides sharing knowledge and experiences, exchanging best practices was also important.
A similar organisation was already established in England in 2006, namely ECPMA (European Community Project Managers' Association).
EUPMAN was set up in the Netherlands and a website was created: www.eupman.eu.
Besides the website a surf list was introduced. People who register as members of EUPMAN can access the restricted section of the website and the surf list. A precondition for participation is that participants are actively involved in managing FP projects. Participants can ask questions in an e-mail that is forwarded to all registered members, any of whom can provide an answer. Questions could include: ‘What actions should be taken if a partner goes bankrupt or if an additional partner joins the consortium?’, ‘What steps should be taken if the financial officer in Brussels rejects your budget?’ and ‘How do you prepare for an audit by Brussels?’ The backgrounds and experiences of the participants vary widely, so all input is valuable.
The first meeting was held on 1 April 2008 in Nijmegen, and between 30 and 40 people attended. The focus of this first meeting was on becoming acquainted with each other. ‘What do you do?’ ‘What are your tasks?’ All the participants were involved with FP projects, but the situations at the various institutions often differ widely. One may have a central department responsible for information relating to FP projects, while another may have decentralised this task. Or an institution could have separate financial and scientific management, while another could have combined these. While one institution may have a project office, another institution may not.
Subsequent meetings (in Utrecht, Eindhoven, Leiden and Wageningen) dealt with different themes in varying formats. There were presentations about initiating FP projects, about lobbying and about cost models. Plenary discussions about how to proceed with EUPMAN also took place. There was a thematic meeting about communication between different cultures (certainly relevant to European projects), about communication with Brussels and about communication within a consortium. At another meeting there were small group discussions about organisational, financial and legal issues.
The next meeting will deal with different topics and will be held on 22 March 2010 in Amsterdam in cooperation with the English organisation ECPMA. EUPMAN is considering the idea of organising a trip to Brussels for those who are still unfamiliar with the functioning of the European Commission. EUPMAN might arrange a training course, but this has not yet been decided. The informal sounding board function remains the most important benefit.