As we enter the new year it is always interesting to reflect back on trends that we saw last year and forecast if they will continue into the new year. From both my personal experience and reading I have done, I think there be one predominant Project Management trend we will continue to see in the new year. In particular, I believe we will see this trend increasingly on successful projects.
Without further ado…
Growth of Project Management as a competency rather than a role
The practice of a Project Manager role on a project with no other competencies will continue to decline. This should not be interpreted that Project Managers are not needed! Nothing could be further from the truth! But Project Managers who are competent Project Managers and have other project competencies will become more and more valuable. Why is this?
- These Project Managers with other competencies can assist and deliver value in other areas of the project when there is less Project Management required. Frequently Project Managers are under-utilized at certain times on a project while coders, testers, and practitioners are over-utilized
- These Project Managers with other competencies can manage the project much better when they understand the issues, understand the complexities in solving the issues, and understand what to get worried about and what can be ignored. Without this context of being a practitioner, a Project Manager is much less effective and can actually cause his/her team more work rather than less.
- These Project Managers with other competencies can build better rapport with the development team. No longer is there an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ segregation in the Project Team. As project team members also take on more Project Management competencies it becomes everyone’s responsibility to manage the project. Developers help to manage the project, Project Managers help to build stuff and the client gets more value.
But what if I don’t have other competencies?
The good news is that there is time to build up these additional competencies to help your teams deliver as much value as possible to the client. Every Project Manager I have worked with has had secondary passions to augment his/her Project Management competencies. Some love analysis, some love testing, some love client relationship building, some love learning about the business domain, and some love coding. The key is to seek out how to continue to improve those competencies and then seek out tasks on the project that you can work on. If there are no project tasks that are applicable on the current project, I encourage you to study on your own time as future projects will require these competencies. As Agile continues to grow, fewer and fewer projects will have a full-time Project Manager that has no other responsibilities and competencies.
I choose Data Modeling and Database Programming as my additional competencies.
Cross-functional teams are here to stay. Remember how awesome those multi-class Fighter/Magic-Users characters were in Dungeon and Dragons? Could a Fighter be of value to the group? Absolutely, but a multi-class characters can handle and help in many more situations. Similarly, integrating Project Managers into those cross-functional teams will deliver the most value to the clients and provide the most interesting and challenging work to all team members. It is the best way to guarantee you are always in demand.
And you just may remember why you loved coding at the start of your career. 🙂