Saturday, November 1, 2014

Where is the Project Management Profession Headed?

Where is the profession headed? Is Project Management going the way of CMMI and becoming less relevant? Are there versions of Project Management that will continue and others that will fade away? Which vein of Project Management should Project Managers (PM) focus on?  There are a number of PM gurus that have their own beliefs and suggestions for the future focus of our industry. However, isn’t the answer “it depends?” Unless you are a freelance PM, isn’t what you should focus on be dependent on your organization’s focus?

I hear, very often, that Project Management is going the way of an Agile process. My only caution is that this may become an excuse to have PMs become more ad hoc, or without process. I do like the Agile approach, I just caution senior management’s motivation. I also believe that a Project Management Office (PMO) approach is a valid and good process. As long as it is used as a carrot and not a management stick. We as PM must remember that we must complete a project and NOT a process.
So, my next questions and responses are what I believe the PM profession is headed.
Do I focus only on what my organization is focused on?
Yes, you have to fulfill your duties as an employee. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up to date on what is new and up and coming in Project Management. I posted a blog on 1/19/13 about an article I read in the previous November’s Information Week. The author discussed his findings that organizations he was following were closing up Project Management Offices (PMO) and the lines of business were having their PMs run Agile projects. I have been reading up on Agile Project Management and I believe that it has both its good points and points that I am not too comfortable with. As a member of a PMO and formerly a PMO in a Professional Services Office (PSO), I found my clients wanting documentation and the ever famous MS Project as deliverables on a weekly or every other week basis. Going to Agile may be an internal change, not a client-facing change.
Are there trends I should pay attention to?
As I mentioned above, the trends in Project Management seem to lean towards Agile. I read a book about 4 years ago titled, Reinventing Project Management, by Shenhar and Dvir and I attended a session where Mr. Shenhar presented the findings discussed in his book. He and Mr. Dvir argued that Project Management had to go through a change in the process of its foundation and think about the value of a project differently. I have stated in multiple blogs that a project must be linked to the organization's strategy and that has to be communicated to all.  Messrs. Shenhar and Dvir argue that a project should be broken up and developed differently. In other words, the initiation phase has to be its own project, as does the planning phase. This is because when a project is originally planned, things may change when it gets to the execution phase.
In bigger projects, I strongly agree with Messrs. Shennar and Dvir. In shorter projects, that should not be the case, especially if the project is less than 6 months' duration. However, my point is that we have to pay attention to these trends and see if they apply in the organization we currently work in. I do not mean to reject these new trends out of hand, as they bring a lot of value to our thinking process. However, in a strongly documented process, the PM must be careful not to be the one to upset the current process, but be the PM that suggests gradual changes. 
If I am not following the “new trend” am I going to be considered "old school?"
Why is old school considered so bad? Change is inevitable, but change sometimes comes slowly. This does not mean that the PM does not stay tuned to new theories. It does mean that the PM should be involved with his/her PMI chapter, even if it is once a year at a symposium. Attend the unusual sessions that introduce new theories. Study and write about them and keep informed of new processes. However, keep yourself grounded in the current process of your organization. This may sound like the “safe” way to keep informed of new theories. Maybe I am more grounded than other PMs, but I am also tuned into the new theories and new processes of what a PM should be studying. That may be the step necessary for all of us to take.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

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