Straight Talk on Project Management

IT project management

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Your IT project manager is someone else’s perfect fit. What’s your plan?

LinkedIn recently listed the Most Promising Jobs of 2017 and it turns out that the Project Manager’s skill set is a perfect fit for many of the top ten roles.

Technical Program Managers and Scrum Masters, for instance, both score high based on all the data sets crunched by LinkedIn. Given the PMI’s forecast, that more than 41 million new project manager roles will be created worldwide by 2020, this is perhaps not a huge surprise. I was also interested to see some ‘alternative routes’ that project managers of my acquaintance have considered as the next step in their career have also made the top ten … project talent moving into sales roles, for example.

All in all, it’s a rosy picture for Project Managers. Take ‘Technical Program Managers’, LinkedIn is reporting a 49% year on year increase in openings and a career advancement score of eight out of ten.

This is great news!

Unless, of course, your business relies on the services of a ‘Technical Program Manager’. In which case the available openings for your talent just increased by a half and their career advancement score (based on the percentage who changed jobs but at the same firm in 2016) is the joint highest in the top ten! In other words, it’s likely that they want career progression and if they can’t get it with you, there are more opportunities elsewhere than ever.

Retaining talent is one thing. Replacing talent is another. Especially in the upper wage brackets. I believe that for your best Project Management talent you should always have a better offer ready should they knock on your door with ‘great news’ of an opportunity elsewhere. Project reliant industries like healthcare, finance, insurance, the utilities, IT services and manufacturing are all reporting problems finding suitable talent.

I have no reason to doubt the reliance of the PMIs forecast for 2020, at least not in terms of demand but experience ‘on the ground’ suggests that there may not be enough adequately skilled talent to fill all those 41 million new project manager roles to be created by the end of the decade, creating something of a gap.

It’s not just anecdotal. As projects increase in complexity, scope and size, many businesses are reporting staff concerns both in regard to quantity and quality of available project management professionals. This goes as far back as 2013 when an ESI International study reported that many organisations were struggling with the perfect storm of finding themselves understaffed and underdeveloped project management talent applying for their vacancies. It hasn’t got much better since.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe, maybe not. However, this could be a reality that affects your sector in the not too distant future – so start making preparations.

Now would be a good time to carry out a Project Management Assessment, either yourself or by getting an independent view, to future proof your operation. Are you, for example, immune from your best talent being lured away by your leading competitor? Do you have the right procedures in place to replace them? It is crucial that businesses anticipate future competency requirements may be so developing an understanding of your needs over the next twelve month, three years and five years.

Based on the findings of your assessment you can act to secure your future. Three things you might consider …

1 – Developing a relationship with a specialist IT recruitment partner now will mean that you hit the ground running when you need to. Really good recruiters get to know you and your business to ensure a cultural fit making talent transitions as painless as possible.

2 – The same is true of Project Management as a Service providers who can help fill gaps that you can’t with your existing talent or traditional recruitment methods. PMaaS provides you with a complete range of Project Management services, including full Programme Management Office. It means that you can access on tap assessments, governance, tools and people to improve your delivery capability and performance. With projects delivered to a tailored budget, in line with agreed service levels, your business can future proof its project management capability and secure consistently high-quality Project Delivery, but crucially often with no net increase in the overall portfolio costs.

3 – Also look to bring on talent within your in-house setup. Invite a third-party IT consulting firm with a track record in project management delivery, development and training to assess your firm’s project organisation and measure existing talent based on their current ability to execute projects and assess their future potential against your growth forecasts. You will get a more objective assessment by outsourcing this it can be hard to be objective when your own organisation is under the microscope. To develop a mid-level project manager from within is usually about 10% cheaper than hiring one from outside so it’s worth considering.

The good news is that Project Management as a Service market I mentioned is now sufficiently mature to accommodate just about any challenge – I love just putting project ‘problems’ out there to see what comes back and am always impressed by the result.

So don’t panic.

Sure, at some point, ‘they’ are going to come after your best talent but by then you’ll be ready with a plan.

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed