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The challenges facing Project Managers

Blog posted by: Allan Thomson - PPM Future Product Lead, AXELOS, 28 September 2016.

The challenges facing Project Managers

Allan Thomson, PPM Future Product Lead, AXELOSWhat is the current state of project management and Project Managers?

At the turn of 2016, PM Perspectives Blog - in its top 10 project management trends post - said:

“Project management is no longer boxed away in a corner of the room. It stands front and centre and is being adopted by every area of smart organizations. Forward-thinking organizations understand its significance and are investing heavily to ensure their people, teams and organization have what it takes to deliver maximum impact.”

I couldn’t agree more. But with that elevated status comes a range of challenges:

  1. Adoption of new practices
    Today, agile product delivery methods are an alternative approach to more traditional approaches. But this isn’t just about product delivery; it’s about an agile mindset, behaviours and techniques. This has been reflected in the take-up we’ve seen in PRINCE2 Agile® guidance this year.
  2. Time management 
    Project Managers are under pressure to remain current, relevant and qualified. This means finding the time to study, take and pass exams. When going for new jobs, having the right credentials could mean the difference between getting through the door or not. For experienced Project Managers, it also means re-registration if your certification expires.
    Our AXELOS Membership is helping Project Managers keep up-to-date and demonstrate their professionalism
  3. Diverse project management methods
    I think that good Project Managers must be open to a range of best practices; in fact, as much as they can get their hands on! This needs what I call “innovation time”: reading around to understand what’s out there to help you perform better. And when comparing approaches such as PMBOK and PRINCE2®, the point is that they have a great deal of synergy and combining them will give you lots of tools you can use.
  4. Stakeholder management 
    This is a complex and constantly changing area and Project Managers have to manage this to get the desired output or result from their project. To be successful, Project Managers need to know the best way to exploit the power contained among the stakeholders, how to get key people engaged as early as possible in the process, how to manage stakeholders – both individually and as a group.
  5. Complex project management
    Unless you’ve got a method, such as PRINCE2, or a way of analysing your environment you are going to struggle. Project Managers need tools to help them plot where their project is in the complex project environment and that might involve engaging a business analyst in the discovery phase for more complicated scenarios.
  6. Team management 
    With project teams comprised of increasingly diverse people, both culturally and geographically, it can make managing simple things more complicated. The risk is that with remote teams, people neither see nor talk to each other. Project Managers need a better understanding of how to handle language and technology to enable better communications among the project team.
  7. Constantly changing business requirements 
    It’s important to have business requirements signed off and fixed. Once you have a scope of work, you need to ensure stakeholders agree with it so you can mitigate any unnecessary work. Yes, things change, but within agreed tolerances only.
  8. Diversity of industries 
    Project Managers must remember and be confident that their method – in this case PRINCE2 - works regardless of industry sector. You might not be an industry expert but you’ve been hired to deliver projects and the products necessary to the organization. Follow your particular method and, when in need of specialist skills and knowledge, engage a business analyst to understand better how the business works.
  9. Project management essentials 
    Above all, Project Managers need to:
    • Show leadership
    • Foster transparency in the team
    • Foster collaboration within the team
    • Develop an environment of rich communication dependent on the project environment
    • Build emotional resilience to keep projects on track
    • Find the tenacity and a drive to succeed
    • Have great attention to detail
    • Be a mediator and be willing to put forward a solution
    • Have excellent interpersonal skills that help team members work together.

See our PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile sections for more information.

Read previous AXELOS blog posts from Allan Thomson

The imperative of closing the agile “adoption gap”

What project metrics are most effective when measuring true project progress?

Implementing a risk strategy within your organization

What are the Traits of the Perfect Project Manager?

PPM - Managing Upwards

 

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