Posted by Mary Gerush on November 11, 2009
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:
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.
Mary Gerush, PMP and Analyst