The role of the Project Manager, according to the developments of Project Management, is in continuous evolution, driven by new technologies, new business models and a continuously developing workforce.
The tasks and responsibilities of the project manager are evolving. Today’s project managers do much more than supervise certain lists of activities that are part of a project.
Their role today has progressed significantly. Nowadays, a project manager works with more people, teams and suppliers and is faced with new challenges every day that the project manager of 10 years ago would never have believed possible.
A younger workforce
Technology is not the only field in which there is a growing shortage of talent.
A research conducted by the Project Management Institute, stated that employers will have to fill nearly 2.2 million project management positions on an annual basis until 2027.
Otherwise, the talent gap could result in a potential loss of approximately $207.9 billion.
What does that mean? That older project managers are retiring, making way for a new generation of professionals.
Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly major role
The role of the Project Manager will be influenced by artificial intelligence.
Sure, we are still decades away from an era in which artificial intelligence will outperform human intelligence. Many people wonder that one day something similar will happen, but it is also a fact that artificial intelligence will play an increasingly larger role in everyday life and, consequently, in project management.
The purpose of artificial intelligence will not be to replace human workers, but to increase their skills and capabilities.
Artificial intelligence will make the work of the project manager leaner than ever before.
Many project managers know from experience that prioritizing activities and allocating resources is one of the most nightmarish parts of the job. In addition, researching and analyzing data is always a “headache”.
So wouldn’t it be nice if someone (or “something”) could take care of all this in a couple of minutes?
This is what artificial intelligence promises to do – indeed, what it is already beginning to do – for the profession.
Unstructured data generated by the daily activities of project team members can be entered in an analysis tool that will automatically re-elaborate them according to chosen criteria, thus increasing the visibility of the project and providing more in-depth information on performance and workflows.
This will allow a project manager to better target the efforts of team members, identifying weaknesses and efficiency opportunities.
Perhaps most importantly, activities such as daily reporting, progress monitoring and budgeting can be simplified through automation, freeing up the project manager’s time for other tasks that require completely “human” intervention.
“Journeys”, not projects
Many years ago, projects had a clearly set deadline. Once the desired output was achieved, the project was completed.
Of course, projects could be redesigned from time to time to release a new version, but the path from start to finish was more or less fixed.
Now it is no longer like that.
Today’s projects, rather than being static and unchangeable, are flexible and dynamic, with the potential to change shape and scope quickly.
They are processes that require a new and more flexible approach, combining traditional “cascading” methodology with “agile” development.
Variation and diversification of the PM’s skills
As the role of the project manager expands, so does the required skills.
Organizations are increasingly focusing on people and their skills.
Now more than ever, it is necessary to understand people just as it is necessary to understand projects.
This in itself is not entirely new, since project managers have always been leaders, coaches and mitigators in one way or another, but what has changed is the focus on emotional intelligence.
Knowing what the members of the project team can do is no longer enough, a project manager must also understand how they feel.
They need to be able to relate to people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, to find common ground between people even when, at first glance, there seems to be no common ground.
The Internet of Things
This is arguably the most disruptive trend of all: the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming part of our lives, and so is the world of business and project management.
Combined with artificial intelligence, IoT is driving a hyper-connected work environment where project managers can equip themselves with faster reporting tools, deeper insights, better process management and more extensive project data collections than they ever imagined possible.
At the same time, this scenario isn’t free of challenges.
The security risks of the aforementioned hyper-connectivity are well documented. In addition, project managers will have to navigate through a minefield of potential legal, ethical and privacy issues.
- How much monitoring is acceptable for a team member?
- What are the controls for preventing a system error resulting from a single error?
- What controls are in place to protect sensitive data and ensure that the organization does not violate the law?
These are not questions that project managers might traditionally ask themselves, but the IoT will definitely ask for an answer.
Ultimately, the role of the project manager is changing.
The days of techniques, scope, planning, budgeting, resource allocation and delivery of results on time are over and now it is necessary to include cross-skills such as conflict resolution, leadership and even trends towards additional management skills such as business modeling and strategic analysis.
These new skills are included in the new guidelines of the Project Management Institute (PMI) for the certifications needed to maintain the position: a new triad of skills called the “Talent Triangle”.
In short, the project manager needs strategic and business management skills to remain competitive.
Here are six tips to get a competitive advantage as a project manager in this time of change:
- Develop business sense
- Understand markets
- Know industry trends
- Develop relationships with stakeholders
- Be straightforward
- Know your business model
That’s the nice thing about project management: it has become a flexible and always adaptable discipline.