With 20 years of experience, I know and have lived how Project Management over the years has changed. Submitting my CV with project management experience is not really cutting it now, you know why? Because companies and organisations are going through major change and need leaders who can take them on that change.
What is a Project Manager?
A Project Manager is a loose name or title. If you’re not from the project management world, you are told you are someone who bosses others around (my favourite explanation my brother describes my job as). Yes there is an element of coordination, organisation, leading others, but no good PM is bossing them around. That’s not even needed experts say now, why have a PM, if you can have self organising teams with Agile? True a good working team, does not need someone else to tell them what to do, but merely guide them, coach and take the flack and be that spokesperson when all else fails and the project gets hairy. Believe me it does get hairy; the PM is there to shield and defend as best possible, always constructive, factual, diligent and proud of the team behind that project.
So what’s changed?
Traditional project management is for me the foundation, the bread and butter of a well performing project manager. The tools, techniques and experience from waterfall and traditional PM is invaluable and gives a great framework to build upon. Now as technology and working practices have changed, as well as no longer a job for life. Agile has allowed some fluidity but still based on those essential traditional methods.
What’s next and how will it evolve?
Project managers in my experience, are also change agents, life coaches, transformation leads, leaning processes, identifying business process changes not just the project they are leading or implementing.
It’s evolving as the industry and world evolves, does a PM for example need to be full time or have full time tasks, no.
Do we need to work in just one industry? Theoretically no.
Why can’t a good experienced PM being able to handle the same challenges of over budget, over-resourced, risks and issues whether it’s in Financial Services, Construction, Marketing, Public Sector or a non-profit? I’d like to think that the PMI or other body would think that would be possible, but I know the answer. We are typecast into certain industries, due to your experience.
For example I have mainly worked in Financial Services in delivering complex web and integration software programmes, but I am fortunate to have also worked in the branding marketing and non profit sectors and can re-forge my image and use my blended skills to fit to the company’s needs in a PM type role.
Now there is one area I believe the role of PM is definitely evolving into. Transformation.
Whatever the circumstance of change; acquisition, growth, external factors, economy, transformation is very much here to stay and in demand. I’ve spoken to local agencies where clients now are looking for more than a marketing digital agency but someone who can translate business needs to solve it for them, in the guise of a transformation. A good transformation project manager would be able to speak the language of the business, converse with all stakeholders and still deliver the bread and butter of excellent Project Management. They’ll also be able to identify gaps in processes, team structure, ways of working that all go together with project delivery and operational efficiencies. I’ve seen a few discussions about ‘junior project managers’, this role is non existent in mind, there’s either experienced or non-experienced PMs with length of tenure an indication towards level of experience. You’ll get what you pay for!
So those zombies, the current Project Managers walking dead? They will remain so if they don’t look outward, I call it ‘bringing outside ideas in’. Learn new practices, retraining regularly and networking.
Project Managers in the future will need to have a greater understanding and take a larger role in the active delivery of complex projects.