The Evolution of a Project Managers role6 min read

The Evolution of a Project Managers role6 min read

6 min read
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Insights from KPMG’s The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook 2019

One thing is certain as a Project Manager and that’s that the industry is constantly moving and evolving, which means so is the role, its function and wider perceptions within organizations and beyond. Following on from our previous post about the future of project management, we’re going to delve a little deeper into KPMG’s Global Outlook Study to explore how the changing industry is impacting the role of Project Managers both now and looking forward.

PM skills are in high demand

Now is a great time to be a Project Manager with significant project activity happening globally – 35% of organizations reported to have completed more than 50 projects in 2019. We suspect this will only increase again when the 2020 statistics come in. It’s also not just traditional industries like construction, manufacturing and engineering that are experiencing an increase in demand for this skillset, there’s now a much larger playing field. Project Managers are now being utilized more widely in industries like Professional Services, Technology and Information Systems (50% of those projects completed) and Business Improvement and Transformation (45% of projects completed).

This provides opportunities to apply transferrable skills and processes to a range of different industries with arguably more complex projects at play. In turn, this will further help raise the profile of Project Management as a discipline and evolve its offering and application only further. Good news for Project Managers!

It’s time to get Agile

Most Project Managers will be all too familiar with the Agile project management methodology – even if it’s not with hands-on experience as the preferred method of choice for a current role / industry. We’ve said it before (and the statistics only serve to strengthen the case) – Agile is well and truly on the rise with 47% of organizations using it to guide project rollouts. To give context, this figure was 24% in 2018. With the ever-changing landscape of a global pandemic, it’s highly likely that Agile saw a significant increase in popularity as a methodology again in 2020 – watch this space for new statistics!

Favored for its flexibility, Agile focuses on supporting innovation through team collaboration. Traditionally popular with software developers and engineers, it’s now gaining traction in a range of organizations trying to solve complex problems in a changing landscape. So Agile experience has arguably never been so relevant. Operating in uncertain contexts means Project Managers need to be flexible in how they approach delivery. Gaining a comprehensive understanding and experience in Agile implementation and the accompanying tools required for effective delivery (See Missions Control’s Kanban feature here) will be a valuable expertise moving forward.

There’s also a movement towards combining methodologies in certain circumstances like ‘Wagile’ – a hybrid of Waterfall and Agile practices. The study found that the most sought-after talent management activity in Project Managers is ‘ongoing project management training’. We believe the key take out from this is not necessarily to jump onto the next new trending methodology but rather to adopt a flexible approach and look to industry peers for learnings and insights on what’s currently working and more importantly, why. Find out more about Project Management methodologies in our latest eBook.

Strategy vs implementation

The study reports that ‘project management is being increasingly used to drive organizational strategy and success and has moved beyond merely delivering outcomes for the business to pick up and adopt.’ In a nutshell, Project Managers are being called in earlier to the piece. Traditionally projects might be initiated when the end goal was known – now organizations are using projects to identify the end goal and help determine strategic direction. 19% of the projects in the study were started in order to identify and deliver ‘strategic business improvements’. For a Project Manager role that might mean shifting focus to a strategic mindset away from traditional implementation and roll-out.

Organizations looking to explore change management are also expected to seek support from formal project management resource requiring Project Managers to develop skills outside traditional project management practices. Communication and connection are described as being critical in helping Project Managers bridge the gap between business strategy and the projects they traditionally deliver. Looking forward, we expect Project Managers to be working alongside Business Leaders in a more significant capacity, therefore, furthering the need for strong communication skills, negotiating, presenting and engaging stakeholders from the outset. An understanding of the wider implications of a project across a business will be crucial.

The rise of the toolkit

‘71% of organizations reported using project management software to improve the management and control of programs and projects. Specifically, 39% are using specialist PM software, 20% are utilizing an in-house solution while the remaining 12% are using non-PM commercial software’. As a Project Manager, the tools you have at your disposal to effectively run a project are essential to its success. A builder wouldn’t build a house without access to a range of tools and Project Managers should be no different.

Somewhat alarmingly, the report showed that 30% of organizations surveyed disestablished a PMO system in the last year. The reasons for this were listed as failing to gain alignment across different organizational divisions and the perception of the PMO being a cost overhead. As detailed above, there is clearly opportunity for Project Managers to help align departments through larger business strategy involvement and widespread engagement – but there’s still work to be done. Project Managers will need to prepare for selling the benefit of the discipline to wider business networks. Check out these tips on how to sell project management software to the C-Suite.

So what is in store for Project Managers in 2021 and beyond? Whilst we don’t have a crystal ball, we’re confident that flexibility, agility, a strategic mindset and some strong selling skills will be a key component to making a success of the evolving role in a changing landscape.

To discuss your organization’s project management requirements, get in touch with the Aprika team today.