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The Future of Project Management

In its 2020 Pulse of the Profession report Ahead of the Curve: Forging a Future-Focused Culture, the Project Management Institute (PMI) reveals the trends discovered from its research and discusses the implications for those in the fast-changing “project economy” environment.

In a commentary about its report, PMI defines “a new way of doing business and delivering value that will enable success in a rapidly changing world: The Project Economy.”

Organizational change “happens through projects” that “disrupt and innovate,” says the commentary (titled Project Leadership and the Future of Work). “In many ways, the organization is its projects — incorporating many skill sets, executed through different approaches but focused unwaveringly on delivering financial and societal value. This is what PMI calls The Project Economy.”

Those considering a career in project management, should also consider earning an online MBA in Project Management, such as the program offered by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Massive technology shifts accelerate change, the commentary says. In this environment, according to PMI’s responses from executive leaders of business, government and nonprofit organizations, the key factors for achieving success include:

  • Organizational agility (35% of responses)
  • Investing in the right technologies (32% of responses)
  • Securing relevant skills (31% of responses)

The commentary concludes that organizations need to be receptive to and prepared for change and that they “must be built around innovation and agility.”

Technology Drives Need for PMs with High ‘Technology Quotient’

The top areas for medium-term investments among Pulse respondents are technology (49%) and digitization (44%).

New technology requires the skills of a project manager (PM) who can produce all the potential benefits of these digital tools, many of which are enabled by artificial intelligence and have capabilities such as machine learning, augmented reality and social robotics.

PM professionals need to be aware of emerging technologies such as quantum computing and computer-brain interfaces; know to evaluate the benefits and risks of relevant technology, and interpret data that can transform projects. And once a system is operational, project professionals must be able to maximize the opportunities that technology enables.

This increasingly sought mash-up of mindset and skill set is what PMI calls “technology quotient,” or TQ.

Leadership Skills Must Include the Human Touch

As important as technology leadership will be, a project manager also must have a range of soft skills for true people leadership. They must be able to build teams from different functional areas of the organization, communicate effectively and be persuasive.

Another important skill is the ability to empathize with team members and others, such as internal clients. To empathize is to understand and to relate to the feelings of others. An empathetic project manager can help alleviate the stress of fast-paced projects and allay stakeholder fears.

Business Skills Needed to Support Organizational Goals

Business acumen will increase in importance as an essential project management skill and was identified as a high priority by 58% of respondents in the Pulse research. The key is project managers’ ability to ensure projects advance organizational goals.

Although PMI’s Pulse report focused on project management, that function typically is performed in the context of an organizational enterprise. Therefore, PMI’s research uncovered trends for skills that companies, organizations and businesses will seek in project managers.

SOSU’s MBA is designed and taught by practitioners with industry and certification training. Courses offer instruction in:

  • Sprint management and the Agile approach, including scrum concepts
  • Policies, procedures and documentation required to plan, develop, execute and control the project schedule
  • Relationships between schedule management and cost management
  • Procurement management techniques and strategies
  • Effective communications from project manager to stakeholders

The program’s curriculum builds business acumen through foundational economics, finance, accounting, marketing, data analysis, research methods, business strategy and behavioral management. You will be prepared to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and begin a career in many senior roles.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Online MBA in Project Management.

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