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20 Mar 2017

Project Management is changing

by Melanie Franklin

Quick summary of a speech I am giving at Project Challenge on Wednesday about the future of project management. Do you agree with my points? I would love your feedback.

1. Democratization

Greater democratization of the role of Project Manager, so no need for professional Project Managers, it is a role for everyone. This is being driven by lighter, more intuitive project management life cycles, often forming the basis of workflow project management tools. Also reflects the recognition that leading change to improve how things are done and to introduce new ideas is part of any managers role and leading projects is part of this.

2. Automation

Greater use of workflow tools which automate the lifecycle, and prompt the stakeholders to complete their tasks, giving the Project Manager more time for stakeholder engagement and encouraging participation in the project. One of the benefits of workflow is that automatically generated reminders are sent to participants once tasks have been assigned to them, which reduces the role of Project Manager as ‘parent chasing naughty child’ which is the least pleasant aspect of the role. This means more time for really analysing what is missing and what extra activities are needed, making the role more strategic and more value added.

3. More doing, less documenting

Less formal documentation of each step of the project as there is growing recognition no-one has the time to read it. A move towards more presentations and demonstrations to keep stakeholders informed. This also fits with a greater trend of presenting what has been created instead of writing up what will be created as we move from ‘asking permission’ to ‘asking for forgiveness’.

4. Engaging not dictating

I think this point applies to leadership generally and not just project leadership. I think we are entering a phase when we engage with people, solicit their ideas and feedback and encourage them to find the right answers. This makes sense in an uncertain world, where it is risky to assume that only one person has the right answer, and risky to assume even if this is correct that everyone will follow them just because they have some hierarchical authority. The key skill is facilitation, to be able to draw out feedback from stakeholders and work with them to co-create the outcomes.

5. Collaboration

The importance of relationship building has grown, as those impacted by a single project become broader and deeper due to the integrated nature of our business environment. This relationship building is also needed with all other project teams in your organisation as we need to understand how our project deliverables connect with other initiatives. Increasingly, users are demanding an holistic, integrated picture of the totality of change, not just the view from a single project.

6. Change is our business

Projects are not just about the delivery of something new. These deliverables enable change in our ways of working, and the role of Project Manager as a Change Manager is a more accurate reflection of what we expect. The scope of projects is to help deliver the behavioural change that leads to effective use of these deliverables.

What else would you include in this list? What do you think the role of Project Manager is in the third decade of this century?

Melanie Franklin
20th March 2017