|Each year, there are new trends in project management. I wanted to weigh in with a few of my thoughts on what they might be this decade. |
1. Beyond the triple constraint
Organizations have been looking to have a good mix of project, program and portfolio managers. Organizations should re-design and build project management systems thinking beyond the triple constraint.
The combined power of project portfolio, program and project management enables delivering business results not limited to the triple constraint.
For example, if a project was delivered on time, within budget and with required quality, but the project outcome doesn't provide expected value, then in my opinion, the project should not be considered successful.
As such, it behooves project managers to expand his or her career growth to acquire new skills and experience in the areas of program management and portfolio management.
2. SMAC project management
Due to the emergence of new projects in the social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC), organizations must make sure their project management approach includes new or refined project lifecycles, templates, checklists, best practices, lessons learned, estimation techniques, risk registers, etc.
Organizations must train project managers to prepare them for managing these SMAC projects by educating them on these trends and how (or if) they will affect them.
3. More projects, different business functions
Projects will start to be identified in different business functions where they might not exist very often, such as sales, marketing, alliances, human resources, etc. Marketing managers, sales managers, HR managers, finance managers and the like have to acquire project management skills to deliver better results in their respective functions.
Organizations should refine their project management strategy to include project lifecycles for all projects and training for all managers. Project Management Centers of Excellence (COE) have to focus on creating special learning assets to train managers on project management in other functions.
4. 'Project-ized' education
In academics, course curriculums will be increasingly 'project-ized.' An engineering course, for example, could have more than 40 projects in the span of four years. Implementing those projects will enable students to learn through multiple and cross-discipline subjects. Students could look back on all of the projects in those years as a "project portfolio."
5. Every employee is a project manager
Project management means having a mindset of systematic planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure. Every task should be considered as a tiny project.
For example, writing a software code as part of a larger IT project should be considered a tiny project. Project management principles will be applied to successfully deliver the code on time and with high quality.
Creating this mindset across an organization requires cultural change. In many organizations currently, only a few people focus on project management. With the practice of considering every task as a tiny project, the need to have 'self project management' becomes prominent.
The best way to train employees to think like project managers is through on-the-job training. Teach employees to create mini-work breakdown structures, mini-schedule, self-reviews and corrective actions.
6. Project entrepreneurship
Project entrepreneurship means project managers must develop an "entrepreneurial" mindset. This enables project managers to take on risks, foster innovation and focus on business value rather just looking at the traditional triple constraints.
7. Program management offices (PMOs) as profit centers
PMOs will be transformed from cost centers to profit centers. PMOs will build very high-end consulting skills and offer services to business units on a profit basis. PMOs will focus on an 'outside-in' perspective and move away from an 'inside-out' perspective. PMO drivers will be around customers, markets and the economy, and not just limited to internal efficiencies.
This means that project managers have to understand the outside-in perspective. They have to focus on outcome and the value to be delivered to customers.
|In a traditional lessons learned session that is conducted face-to-face, project managers know each person who is present and his or her role on the project.|
But technology today affords us the luxury of being able to do many things online -- such as holding a lessons learned session. We can engage with people across the country or someone who may be sitting right next door. Regardless of where someone is located, we must maintain a cordial and professional manner when we interact online.
When you have dispersed project teams -- and even sometimes otherwise -- getting people to stay focused and not be disrespectful to others in a lessons learned session is a challenge.
To overcome this, set the rules for participating in the session. Make sure participants understand them and agree to them. These rules should include:
When you maintain control of the meeting and employ general courtesy, it keeps the discussion flowing and ensures everyone gets the information needed about lessons to be learned.
How do you maintain control in lessons learned sessions?
|The structured approach of project management can add value to operational IT departments. What makes this work is the approach that the project management office (PMO) or the project management team defines in its project management methodology for release of the systems into production environments.|
Operational departments should execute with a process often referred to as "steady state transfer." This process gives the project team the opportunity to validate all the key production processes such as the support, maintenance cycle, systems restore and sanity testing, which is the basic testing of the system functionality.
Project teams launch the steady state transfer after successful tests show the systems are ready to be released into the production environment.
This validation step -- to ensure that the system processes are well mapped between various support departments -- adds value to the operations teams. The validation step is done during project execution using the steady state transfer process -- and without generating special projects.
This validation step in the project management practice guarantees process interface manuals are updated with any changes to the processes and the test results.
The operational departments work with the project team to complete this task and thus make a smooth transition into the "steady state" of operation.
What processes does your organization use to achieve the same results?
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|Project management plays a vital role to successfully deliver IT services to customers. Each IT service -- from strategy and consulting to platform migration -- has its own life cycle and project managers must be aware of the different phases, tasks and deliverables. This means IT services organizations must be dedicated to build qualified and competent project managers.|
Career paths in project management help build the competencies in project management in an evolutionary manner. Career paths also provide a clear road map for the growth of the employees in the profession.
Those IT organizations that invest on designing the project management career path and relevant skills of the employees deliver excellent business value to customers.
In my opinion, there are nine "levels" of careers in IT services organizations. Titles depend on the organization, but in my experience, these are the levels:
Level 1: Entry-level employees with either a technical education background or a functional background may have titles such as software engineer or functional analyst.
Level 2: Employees at this level participate in requirements or business process analysis, high-level design, and technical specifications.
Level 3: This could be the team leader level. He or she might manage a team of three to four members and deliver part of project deliverables.
Level 4: This could be the project leader. He or she might manage a team of about 10 members and deliver small projects.
Level 5: This would be the project manager. He or she manages a team of 20 to 30 members and delivers multiple, medium-size projects or a large project.
Level 6: This is the senior project manager level. He or she manages a team of about 100 members and delivers multiple large projects.
Level 7: This is usually the program manager level, managing a team of about 200 people. He or she delivers complex program(s) for a single customer.
A delivery manager could also be at this level, managing a delivery unit with a team of 200 members. He or she delivers logically grouped projects based on technologies, customers, verticals or regions. For example, a delivery unit could consist of projects from different customers in the Middle East region.
Level 8: Usually the head of delivery, he or she delivers multiple complex IT programs or manages multiple delivery units.
Level 9: This is the chief delivery officer. He or she takes the responsibility of overall delivery of IT organization.
To move from one level to the next in the project management career path, it requires improving current competencies and learning new competencies.
To move up the career ladder, project managers should focus on the nine knowledge areas from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
They should also study The Standard for Program Management.
In addition, core competencies should include, but aren't limited to:
â€¢ Project life-cycle management
â€¢ Effort management
â€¢ Software change management
â€¢ Configuration management
â€¢ Organization change management
â€¢ Leadership skills
â€¢ Multi-cultural team management
â€¢ Global delivery model
Do you agree with these career levels? What skills should project managers focus on to move up the IT career ladder?
Editor's note: PMI's Pathpro® is an online tool that organizations and practitioners can use to identify the skills and competencies needed to create a successful project management career path.
Many of today's agile project teams are distributed around the globe. While simple implementations of agile processes assume co-location, in larger enterprises, this is rarely the case. Selecting tools to assist remote communication helps, but it's not enough.
Here are some human factors to consider, beyond the tools, to work successfully with a distributed team:
Cultural differences can become apparent when working with global talent. Some people are uneasy if some social small talk is omitted as part of doing business. Some are uncomfortable if we don't simply get to the point. This affects agile teams as they implement practices such as self-organization, pair programming, and retrospectives. Remember people's assumptions can vary.
Time-zone differences can be helpful by providing longer hours of coverage. But check with your teams on when they begin and end their workday. Different cultures have different laws and traditions on when to go home. Not all people have private transportation, and not all countries use daylight savings time.
Finding teams in compatible time zones can be an advantage with more hours of coverage, if the hours and needs are remembered. Partnering with teams that are north or south of each other makes this easier because the time difference is less extreme.
Communication differences among distributed teams also require forethought. Agile teams will notice a need for engaging and informative tools in their story grooming, estimating, planning and retrospective meetings.
Telephone calls can be awkward because there is no visual cue as to who is speaking and no person to look at. Also, sound varies for each person depending on if they are in the same conference room, on a speakerphone, using a headset or cell phone. Make it a point to include people on the phone if part of the group is face-to-face.
Video conferences or webcams might be a better option. Be aware of the background so it is not distracting. Also be aware of the lighting quality and direction -- illuminating an attendee's face is better than a dark silhouette.
Spatial user interfaces, which extend traditional graphical user Interfaces by using two or three-dimensional renderings, give people someone to look at and allow positional body language and gestures to convey nonverbal information. However, be sure to allow training time for participants so they can make the most of these environments before needing to concentrate on a meeting.
By using the right tool and having the right mindset, agile teams can work together across wide distances.
How do you work successfully with distributed teams?