Project Management: The Next Generation

Hello fellow project managers! Are you ready for your future?

Because the world of software delivery has changed, and you're right in the middle of it all. Agile methodologies have introduced new philosophies, techniques, and processes to develop and deliver software and business value faster. Organizations are embracing Lean Software principles to eliminate the waste they've accumulated in product and process. And technology complexity continues to escalate. Strong project managers are critical in today's evolving, dynamic environment, but the definition of a "strong" project manager is changing.

It's time to embrace the next generation of project management.

Next-generation project managers have adapted to new models of software delivery. And they have an updated set of skills. Believe it or not, they can actually be flexible! Not a word often used to describe project managers (myself included). I've recently had the opportunity to talk to a number of individuals and organizations to find out how the role is changing and what characteristics constitute the next-generation project manager. Through this research, I found that really strong, next-generation project managers have:Next-gen pm framework

  • A solid understanding of the business... Project managers with knowledge of business strategies and goals do a better job leading the team to create value. They can react to changes in business priorities and strategies and adapt project approaches to stay in sync.

  • ...and a solid understanding of technology. Those that understand technology basics are more flexible, more comfortable, and more sensitive to potential problems. One client calls it having a "technical ear." They don't need to be technical experts, but they understand the environment in which solutions are deployed.

  • A strong foundation in project management practices. The basics still matter, and the PMBOK is still relevant. Project managers need to competently perform project initiation, planning, execution, and closing activities. And they need strong skills in scope, schedule, and cost management as well as quality and risk management. These practices apply regardless of what development methodology is in play.

  • Most importantly - an amazing array of updated soft skills. Command-and-control is out. And servant-leadership and team-orientation are in high demand. Next-generation project managers excel at team-building, collaboration, and people skills. They are attuned to the rhythms and needs of their teams, and they work to serve the team by facilitating progress flexibly and adaptively.

We've published a research report and a project manager assessment workbook to help organizations plan for, hire, and develop their next-generation project managers. But I want to continue to hear from you. As software delivery continues to evolve, how are your project managers changing? What new skills do they need? How can they succeed today and tomorrow? Let me know what your next-generation project manager looks like.

Thanks much!

Mary Gerush, PMP and Analyst
mgerush@forrester.com
twitter: @mgerush

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Comments

re: Project Management: The Next Generation

Now a days business competition is growing more and more. So every business person want to save their time in any project . So they are using different type time tracking software and tools on their project work.

re: Project Management: The Next Generation

The rapid rate of change in both technology and the marketplace has created enormous strains on existing organizational forms which traditionally were highly bureaucratic and, experience has shown, that such forms could not respond rapidly to a changing environment. There was therefore, a great need for other temporary management structures that were highly organic and could respond very rapidly as situations developed inside and outside the company. Many organizations adopted project managment to be that agile temporary management structure and I see it as a workable possibilty for evolving into the organizational form of the future that can integrate complex efforts and reduce bureaucracy. As the corporate entity becomes a project-driven organization, the project manager also evolves focusing not only on the PMBOK but increasing competency in the soft skills such as relationship building, negotiations, mediations and influence which become vital to success.I enjoyed reading the article and will continue to follow your posts.

re: Project Management: The Next Generation

Mary, I am in absolute agreement that PMs have to have to different skills today. They absolutely need to understand the business AND the user. What I would add is that they really should understand the customer also. At least they should be close to those business people who do.The main problem is however that the rising complexity of current solutions does not allow them to fulfill that role. Before the PM can be the MEDIATOR between business and technology he should be, technology will need to make a huge step forward from fragmented, custom-code integrated, frozen application icebergs to user friendly, adaptive platforms. Today it is just a struggle to squeeze time estimates from Java coders and keep the plan up to date with unavoidable delays and scope-creep to a necessary minimum. Coding for business is a dead-end. Coding for backend mass production that is linked to business via SOA or any other well defined interface will stay.Another current problem is the fragmentation of IT responsibilities as well as the widespread, senseless outsourcing mania. It is not in the authority of the PM to ensure that applications and updates are deployed as frequently as they should be, which thus are always too far from requirements.Such an application platform will include the IT project management from requirements gathering, via functional definition, handle deployment, to business results monitoring. The PM will be the one to help business to use such systems to the max.Hence, I believe that it will not be PM methodology or skills that will change the way businesses use IT but it will be technology.