The New World of Project Management

The New World of Project Management

When it comes to project management, the future is now.

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“For organizations, the urgency for good project management has never been more acute,” says Jason Cassidy, chief executive officer of Project Management Academy (PMA), a leading provider of educational training for project managers. “Just to stay competitive, companies need to undertake projects and execute them at a much more rapid and innovative pace than in years past.” With little to no opportunity to lose ground, companies using some form of project management practices reported 40% higher success rates than their counterparts who were not using best practices, according to industry reports.

A recent Customer Insights survey by PMA bears this sentiment out. Seventy-seven percent of respondents reported the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification course was the most beneficial professional training. The more than 550 respondents ranked Agile training next, followed by Project Management (Fundamentals), Soft Skills (such as interpersonal communication) and Business Skills (such as data analytics and ROI analysis). When responses just from B2B professionals were calculated, the Project Management for Executives class increased from 18% to 27%.

“The new world project management not only involves more Agile but clearly a lot of the softer and business skills that are necessary to function in this particular environment,” says Cassidy.

What Leads to Project Failure?

While all respondents were well aware of what was driving the successes at their organization, it was also clear to them the key issues driving project failure or delay at their firms: poor requirements gathering (52%); change in priorities (52%); poor resource planning (47%); and change in objectives (33%). A quarter of respondents believed under skilled project managers contributed as well, while 30% of heads of the Project Management Offices cited this as a reason.

New Project Management Skills Need to Succeed

To bridge this gap, it is apparent that organizations are looking beyond sole knowledge of PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). When asked for the top 5 skills that are most important for project managers, 50% of respondents cited leadership, followed by problem solving (48%), written communication (39%), planning (38%), and critical thinking (38%). Relationship building, ability to adapt to change and risk management were also ranked highly.

Additionally, these are some of the top skills required in most “knowledge worker” jobs, or jobs where knowledge is the main capital such as engineering, designing or programming. “For those who are not even involved in project management, there are organizational skills you will gain that companies report are lacking in many of their employees,” says Cassidy.

While project managers need these skills need to achieve best practices, mastering them can also be a path to a more broadly successful knowledge worker within an organization as well. “Not only are these skills abundant in their successful employees, but they are key criteria for hiring,” adds Cassidy.

Project Managers Thinking Like Business People

PMA’s Customer Insight survey indicated that project managers thinking more like business people—with the right soft and business skills—can help bridge the communication gap as well as the greater organization increasing its understanding of project management. 

“It is so important that the project managers themselves are far more ingrained in the business,” says Cassidy. “Having a seat at the table means that they will better understand the overall business goals, as well as be able to leverage their soft skills to ‘talk the talk’ of business and while influencing others internally, building teams, communicating well and managing the risks of the project.” 

Which means that if the rest of the organization understood project management better, there would be more success and less key reasons projects fail, according to PMA’s survey. “Engaging executive sponsors” was the second most cited issue driving project success in their organizations at 29%, following “excellent communication across departments and functions” (31%). “Managing scope creep” and “project managers thinking strategically and/or like business people” rounded out the top four. 

“It is clear that utilizing project management best practices—along with Agile, soft and business skills for the project manager—while engaging the broader organization is the four-fold path to success for individuals and organizations,” says Cassidy. “In addition, project management can be a path to a more broadly successful knowledge worker within an organization as well.”   

To find out more about PMA’s Customer Insights Survey or how to put your organization or team on the path to success, click here.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO