Project Management Directions
The profession of project management is growing and maturing
by leaps and bounds in North America, Latin America, and Europe.
This doesn’t mean that there has been a sudden surge in the number of projects
the areas undertake, it means that more and more businesses and government
agencies recognize the need to assign knowledgeable project managers to these
roles and the PMI® with their PMBOK® have been supplying that knowledge. PMI® has successfully marketed their brand (theProject Management Professional, or PMP®)
all over the world with the exception of Europe
where they still compete with the International Project Management Association
(IPMA) for certification dominance.
It used to be that to find project management discipline one
had to go to the construction or defense industries. Not any more, the software
development, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, petro-chemical, and financial
industries have caught up to their more experienced brethren and, in some
cases, have even surpassed them.
Project management can be viewed as a mature discipline –
you’ve come a long way baby! But project managers must continually re-invent
themselves to meet ever changing demands. Changes in the way projects are
approached during the current recession and the "greening” of projects are just
2 examples of these changes. I’ll attempt to predict future directions for
project management and what they will mean to practitioners.
Project management has focused on breadth up to this point.
By breadth, I mean that the project manager is expected to deal with the entire
planning and execution of the project up to close out. Very large projects may
be broken down into component projects, or sub-projects, each with its own
project manager but each project manager is usually responsible for the gamut
of PM Deliverables for their project. I see this changing; particularly on
large projects which don’t lend themselves particularly well to being broken
down into sub-projects. The PMI® has gotten ahead of the curve in this area and
now offer certification in the areas of risk and scheduling. Look for more
certificates from the PMI® in the areas of requirements (scope), procurement,
cost, and quality.
Organizations which cannot afford to hire numerous PMs with
specialized skills to manage a project may look at developing their in-house
resources to acquire the skills that best advance their business. Software
development houses or telecommunications businesses may want to focus on
requirements management, pharmaceuticals on risk management, and construction
on schedule management. They may also want to go the route of hiring
specialized services when and if they need them. Organizations undertaking a
"one off” project may not see any value in developing a competency that will
only be used once and choose to hire a consultant or contractor to make up the deficiency.
Expertise may also be developed by project phase, project
managers developing competencies in planning, execution, testing, and
close-out. A project manager who specializes in planning projects would develop
depth in the activities performed during the planning phase of each knowledge
area. For example, scheduling expertise would be developed in the area of
breaking work down, creating the WBS, estimating effort and duration, etc.
Project managers specializing in the execution phases would enhance their
skills in the areas of Human Resource management, communications, and other
monitoring and controlling activities.
Increased scrutiny will come with increased training and
recognition. As the profession is increasingly relied upon to deliver good
governance over projects, government regulations and standards will follow.
Take the Sarbanes Oxley act for example. One of the provisions of the act is
the establishment of control over financial records. Although there is nothing
specifically in the act addressing projects, the section dealing with
management control over financial records will apply to project management.
Cost management carried on by project managers must support the control
specified in the act. Engineers have preceded us down this path. Due to the
risks inherent in the work that profession does, they are held to a
professional standard that is more structured than the standards in existence
for project management today. The requirement that engineers sign off on
drawings they are responsible for and that they may face disciplinary hearings
if their conduct is not deemed professional are examples of that higher
Look for more cross-pollination between the project
management discipline and other disciplines. The business analysis is one
discipline that has already crossed over into the area traditionally viewed as
project management. I suspect this is a result of business looking to make
their staff more efficient by having BAs manage smaller projects. A look at the
certification programmes offered by some Universities will reveal how this
cross-pollination works. BA programmes commonly include courses in project
management as part of the programme. These courses won’t go into project
management areas in any great depth but are intended to teach the BA the
rudiments of project management. Project managers already acquire expertise in
the area of business analysis. Best practices in the area of Scope Management,
for example, provide the project manager with a grasp of business analysis
fundamentals. Look for more professions to absorb some of the project manager’s
skills into their tool kits. Accountants for example will acquire PM skills in
the area of cost management for projects. Quality Assurance professionals will
acquire PM skills in the areas of quality management and requirements
Project managers are not likely to be replaced by BAs,
accountants or QA professionals but will be increasingly assisted by the
project management skills acquired by these professionals. Accountants will
become more cognizant of what the project requires to support good cost
management, QA professionals will be better able to ensure that all requirements
are thoroughly tested and verified. BAs will be able to help the project
manager by identifying the work needed to identify requirements for the current
project, break them down, and integrate them with the project WBS.
Organizations that employ BAs to manage small projects may require their
project managers to coach and mentor their BAs to make them more proficient in
the management of small projects. Some BAs will become part of the PMO without
formally being trained as project managers (outside of their formal BA
training). Some BAs will call upon the Project Management Centre (PMC) for the
tools, templates, and coaching they need to manage small projects.