Written by Jackie Glynn

Within the business world, we have seen the role of project management evolve over the years to a place where project managers operate with change as a constant.

While the traditional measures of scope, time and cost are still essential, they are no longer sufficient on their own in today’s competitive environment. The ability of projects to deliver what they set out to do — the expected business benefits — is what organisations need today.

In addition, the demand for project managers is increasing year-on-year based on the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) report, Job Growth and Talent Gap in Project Management 2017. This report identified that by 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles. This is due to a significant uptake in demand for project talent, especially in rapidly developing economies such as China and India; a dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills; and attrition rates, including professionals retiring from the workforce.

This will increase the need for skilled and experienced project and programme managers. Organisations will continue to place a greater focus on improving project management performance to stay competitive and relevant in the digital world.

So, what does this changing digital business landscape mean for project managers and what skills are they going to need to operate successfully in this world? Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, has highlighted the top emerging technology trends to be:

  • Artificial Intelligence — By 2021, 80% of emerging technologies will have AI foundations. However, 50% of organisations will lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value.
  • Head Mounted Displays — By 2020 the market for head mounted displays will exceed 35 million devices. A context shift will occur, from ‘humans learn and adapt to technology’ to ‘technology learning and adapting to humans’.
  • Digital Platforms — By 2022 the IoT will drive savings for consumers and businesses in the areas of maintenance, service and consumables.

In addition, a 2016 Transparency Market Research report suggested that as AI ascends, it has the power to fundamentally transform project management decision making.

When it comes to the role of project managers, organisations need to look forward and think forward. They must react to change in order to ensure successful project management. They need to consider the challenges that are emerging, as project teams blend skills such as Design Thinking, Lean and Agile.

They must also expand their role. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 10th Global Project Management Survey 2018, Success in Disruptive Times, suggests that a project manager is now a:

  • Strategic Advisor — plans, executes, and delivers
  • Innovator — acts as product owner and developer
  • Communicator — is always clear and concise, no matter the audience
  • Big Thinker — is adaptable, flexible, and emotionally intelligent
  • Versatile Manager — has experience with all approaches, Waterfall, Scrum, Agile, Lean and Design Thinking

The project professional must now look at evolving with their role to meet the demands of the world they now work in — a digital business world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This involves broadening their skills and learning in new ways. Leading organisations are also looking at the role of project professionals to take advantage of disruption. Project managers be prepared to disrupt or… be disrupted!

Jackie Glynn is Vice President of the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) and Head of Portfolio Management Office at Three Ireland. Deadline for entries for the Ireland Chapter of PMI’s National Project Awards, with headline sponsor PwC, has been extended until 21 September. For full details see projectawards.ie. The awards celebrate the country’s leading project managers and teams and their forward-thinking projects.

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