The Future of PM: A Hybrid Role?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague recently about new product development projects. For the purposes of that conversation (and this article), we considered that term to include any customer offering—product or service, new or updated. We were speculating about the role of project managers and product managers on this type of initiative, as the time between initiation and delivery is under pressure to become even shorter while the shift from features to impact increases.

That’s what I want to look at in this article, because I think it opens up a number of exciting opportunities for project managers—but perhaps also a few threats.

Product-focused projects today
Let’s start by looking at the issues around product or service-based projects. Customers are expecting new or upgraded offerings on a much more frequent cadence than previously. As technology makes more product categories “smart,” the pace of change we have become familiar with on software products has to expand into more and more categories. At a minimum, software or firmware upgrades are expected several times a year—and potentially new versions of the complete product have to be released at least annually (and often more frequently).

For producing organizations, this results in shorter project cycles—not just because of increased customer …

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