Sep 29, 2016

Three Trends Shaping Project Management Today

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Questions from Dubai sparked these ideas on PM's future.

Recently, I was invited to answer a number of opinion questions for a report being produced by the Dubai International Project Management Forum, where I will be speaking in October. It's always a spur to reframing one's thoughts, and I wanted to share with our readers a few of the answers that were germane to the work we are doing here at PM Solutions. In particular, I found myself excited by the question about PM trends. Here are three trends that I think are shaping not only what we do, but why we do it:

  1. Simplicity. There are several ways in which project management practice is learning to focus on ingredients that are crucial to success. First, I see concrete signs that project management practice is moving towards a higher degree of focus on project scope.  Most organizations, as they progress on their maturity journey, realize that cutting "noise" out of the portfolio is important for executing their strategy.  Improvements in the dynamic prioritization of strategic initiatives have gotten the attention of executives!  In the midst of contradictory or vague expectations, project managers have learned to streamline project delivery by placing stakeholder management and analysis at the center of the their critical responsibilities.   The genius of higher performance in the future resides in the ability to dissect complex relationships, expectations, and ecosystem interdependencies, and develop simple unified directional clarity, linked to nicely articulated and communicated strategies. In our new white paper, we call this (with a nod to Stephen Covey) "keeping the end in mind."
  2. Value Measurement. Planning for benefits and consistently measuring extracted value throughout the project cycle will become the norm.  Benefits Realization Management is no longer a luxury and organizations are waking up to the importance of this discipline and assuring the right roles and responsibilities are in place to cover this refreshed commitment.  Officers are realizing that envisioning a clear finish line with the associated organizational outcomes is a strategic capability that has to be developed.  This capability becomes a differentiating premise for project management and how seriously it is treated by the executive teams of organizations worldwide.  Questions like “why?” and “so what?” will become mainstream DNA attributes for project management.
  3. Strategic Linkage. This is a must for future green light / go ahead on projects and will also contribute to how project management is perceived as a strategy execution enabler.  With sophistication in portfolio management practices and enhanced governance, senior bodies in organizations are realizing the gap between nice-sounding strategies and the efforts required for successful execution of these strategies.  Multiple muscles have to be developed organizationally for a stronger strategic fit and link.  Decision-making, prioritization, risk management and agility are amongst the key flexors to ensure that every initiative that stays in the mix has a home and that home is the overall strategy.  The future is also about how dynamic this strategic link should be managed as complexities, variables, and political environments continue to add surprising dimensions to the execution roadmap.

Editor's Note:  This is the first in a series of blogs on essential topics in project management. Dr. Zeitoun shares a few more of his Dubai-inspired musings in the PM College blog, focusing on the project manager's role.


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