WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE RAPIDLY CHANGING FACE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT DURING THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
Although I have extensive experience in the Salesforce ecosystem, it is no secret I’m quite new to the project management foray. That being said, and despite Aprika’s flagship product is robust and extensive, the sector isn’t ‘rocket science’, and I believe I have a solid macroeconomic understanding given I spend a considerable amount of time studying this area. I can offer some perspective from that angle.
Prior to last year and especially through the Covid Crisis, central banks were printing money like we’ve never seen before. In the United States alone, over 40% of their $9 trillion money supply was printed in the last few years. Let that sink in for a moment. This is unprecedented, and combined with a lengthy period of ultra low interest rates— credit was extremely cheap and relatively easy for businesses to obtain.
For better or worse— the ‘chicken has come home to roost’, interest rates have risen rapidly, and lending all around is much tighter. The focus has shifted from growth to protecting and preserving what cash (if any) is available until this tightening cycle eases. EBITDA is very much en vogue over top line metrics for many businesses.
So where does Project Management fit into this thinking? ‘Lean and mean’ is arguably a dated adage, but we’re definitely in a ‘leaner, hopefully kinder despite some unfortunate layoffs, and cleaner’ phase, where all stones are being overturned and polished to do more with less resources and labour. If you’re managing multiple projects and clients— all eyes and focus are on optimisation, performance, and efficiency. Strong Project Management oversight has little choice to be in the driver’s seat for this to happen.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES MOVING FORWARD?
A solid Project Management platform allows companies to hone in on their projects, resources, and labour to better analyze their focus and metrics. Done right or better, there are plenty of efficiency gains to be obtained, that may have been previously overlooked because the ‘purse strings’ were a little looser and ‘that’s the way it was done’ excuse was leaned on heavier. That fence post is not available to rest on for the time being, so it’s an opportune time for more of a beginners’ mind approach. This screams opportunity in the PMO space.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE CHALLENGES?
With lean times, there is opportunity as I’ve mentioned, but the reality is tough decisions often have to be made in downswings. This is rarely easy and there may be situations where companies are running a very strong Project Management practice, and the decisions to get leaner are much more complex. However, the biggest challenge I see as I enter this space is a fear of change. Many organisations are simply adverse to rapid change. Status quo and pain avoidance are natural tendencies that are baked into many organisations. That type of culture is unfortunate because it’s a predictable outcome— and it’s dire. I maintain that challenges are opportunity in disguise. Change is challenging, but it’s opportunity for those that navigate and execute through it.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT FOR THE FUTURE?
With respect to Project Management, it is a very exciting time because it will continuously come into focus, which is an opportunity for the arena Mission Control [Aprika’s flagship product] plays in. Provided we can adapt and listen to our customers— we will likely continue moving the PMO needle forward— especially within the Salesforce ecosystem, given we’re a ‘native’ application. That’s exciting for us as a company, and candidly for the mandate I’ve been hired to execute against. The other reality is that interest rates have no choice but to trend lower over the longer term. I don’t have a crystal ball on when, however the $800 billion of interest on US debt simply cannot roll over on current rates, otherwise the debt will spiral out of control. Credit will get cheaper again, capital will loosen, and more projects will get managed. In my view, it shapes up to be a win-win and that is exciting!