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The Project Manager of the Future

Kurt Mithoefer Senior Director – Strategy, Execution, and Operational Excellence, Southern New Hampshire University
Kurt Mithoefer Senior Director – Strategy, Execution, and Operational Excellence, Southern New Hampshire University

Kurt Mithoefer Senior Director – Strategy, Execution, and Operational Excellence, Southern New Hampshire University

Project management is a rapidly growing field that is in high demand across many, if not all, industries. As businesses worldwide continue to work through an increase in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) capability, a growing number of remote employees, project teams spanning geographical locations, and an ever-changing regulatory landscape, hiring a highly skilled project manager has become a more common practice.

According to the 2018 Pulse of the Profession® report from industry organization Project Management Institute (PMI), a collective $1 million is wasted every 20 seconds by organizations worldwide due to ineffective and inefficient project management practices.  Complementing this report is the 2019 Pulse of the Profession® report stating project performance and project success is directly tied to having engaged sponsors, projects aligned to the organizations direction and strategy, and efficient project control to ensure minimal scope creep is experienced.

Traditionally, project management skill sets and competencies were nested in the areas of Leadership, Technical, and Strategy Management.  Project Managers were trained in the areas of scope, time, and cost management with an emphasis on monitor and control, which consisted of project schedule oversight and risk/issue identification and mitigation to ensure minimal impacts were felt on a given project.  Project Managers are highly skilled in the areas of emotional intelligence(EQ) and intelligence quotient(IQ). Additionally, they are expert multi-taskers and proficient communicators who oversee a multitude of elements on a large project, and communicate with all stakeholders and drive the project to (hopefully) successful completion, on time and within budget.  These are not only vital skills for any project manager to have in order to be successful on their projects, but ones that are starting to become secondary to technology intelligence(TQ).  We are starting to see more and more AI adoption for oversight and management of project schedules, reporting, and risk/issue identification and mitigation planning.  This shift in technical assistance is not only making the monitor and control of projects easier, but it is also allowing for more transparent communication of project progress for senior leaders within an organization. 

If project management, and specifically project oversight/execution, is starting to leverage more AI and technology for automation of schedule and reporting, what is the project manager of the future’s job function or primary purpose?  One area in the talent triangle that has remained important, but one that is often overlooked within the organization is the Strategy and Business Management focus.  Project Managers are often seen as the task overseers or schedule monitors; but more and more PMs are expected to be able to ensure the intended strategic alignment and business impact is realized, and as the projects are executed, it is the project manager’s role to ensure everyone involved in the effort and across the organization, is clear on the purpose, alignment, and goals of the project.

Ensuring the project efforts are tied to clearly identified success criteria, which can then be measured once the project is operationalized within the organization, is another way for the project manager to ensure project alignment to theoverall strategy and the benefit to the organization at large.  As organizations continue to mature in their understanding of project management and the value an established Project Management Office can deliver, it will become increasingly valuable for project managers to establish and develop skills in the area of strategy and business management.  Working with Senior Leadership to establish the organization’s strategic direction; objective outcomes; and the supporting project, initiatives, and process improvement efforts, will allow for project managers to understand how their assigned projects and programs are focused on achieving the organizations 1, 3, and 5+ year strategic goals.

In an era where technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate—and one where AI is being used more and more to provide analysis and insights within the areas of risk/issues, project schedules, reporting, and beyond—it will be the project managers who understand how to leverage capabilities in emerging technologies to increase automation of projects, and spend more of their time focused on how the project aligns to and achieves the organization’s strategic goals.  Being able to ensurethat the success criteria for the project is tracked post project completionand the benefit realization is either met or missed, will become more important in the coming years.

It will be essential for the project managers of the future to be able to not only manage a project with the traditional PM Skillset, but equally important for them to be able to

• Understand how a project aligns to the organization’s goals and strategic direction,

• Ensure that the projects that produce the highest alignment and value to the business are the projects that are the highest priority, and

• Provide clarity to the project team members and organization to make the effort successful.

See Also:

Top Project Management Consulting/Services Companies

Top Project Management Tech Companies

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