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Straight Talk on Project Management

Adaptibility

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Adaptability – the ‘most wanted IT project superpower’ available on demand

In a fascinating recent blog, PMI CEO Pierre Le Manh detailed how the project management landscape is changing and explored the skills that are (and will be) most in demand.

With the caveat that budgeting, scoping, and scheduling are a given (don’t @ him!!), Pierre’s top ten, makes for an interesting read: Adaptability; Communication; Leadership; Risk management; Visualization; Data literacy; Intellectual curiosity; Stress management; Objectivity; and Low-code/no-code proficiency (i.e. “the ability of non-IT-professionals to use low-code/no-code tools to develop apps and software to solve everyday problems”). As with all PMI blogs it’s a cracking read.

The skill that most resonated with me was adaptability.

Why?

Well, when I asked a bunch of IT project management colleagues and clients what ‘superpower’ they wished their project delivery teams possessed, their answers read like a thesaurus entry for adaptability – “flexibility”, “ability to pivot”, “elasticity”, “resilience to change”, “nimbleness”, “multi-skilled”, “versatility”, and my personal favourite “I’d love the ability to clone staff”! Ahhh yes! With six clones of your best talent, you’d be adaptable to the max!

As Pierre says in his PMI blog, “We knew its importance before, and COVID-19 reinforced it. We need to maintain this same nimbleness of mind and ability to pivot in our day-to-day world. A willingness to embrace new technologies, new methodologies and new ways of working will always separate the winners from the also-rans.”

So, adaptability if crucial on a personal level and it’s a vital skill from an organisational perspective too.

ADAPTABILITY AT AN ORGANISATIONAL LEVEL

Adaptable people make adaptable teams and with changing business and market needs, never before have IT Project teams needed the ability to turn on a sixpence (or turn on a dime for US readers!) – basically we have to be lighter on our feet than ever!  

From CIOs to Project Managers, I’m hearing of gaps in “power skills” or “soft skills” (like communication, empathy, and teamwork), technical skills, and sector specialised knowledge.

So, Project Management teams are needing to be adaptable but external forces are working against them!

Finding gifted project delivery talent who have the right soft skills, specific industry knowledge, and a willingness to work within the organisation’s budget, can be challenging. It’s much easier to upskill existing workers, embellishing skills takes time though and organisations that need their staff to operate at an elevated level NOW for their projects to succeed don’t always see the value in paying for the necessary training, education, and certifications. When your need is NOW, long term return on investment is a hard sell!

So, many are heading out into the market.

TALENT CHALLENGES

Chatting with Stoneseed clients and prospective clients, in the current climate, resourcing IT Projects is met with 3 major talent adaptability challenges:

1 – Skills are passing their best-before date more quickly than ever.  It’s a constant battle to upskill current talent and bring new starters up to the required skill level during onboarding so that they hit the ground running. People’s skills are not always keeping pace with advancing work patterns and business needs. Harvard Business School professor Joseph Fuller put it nicely observing, “The shelf life of people’s skills for a lot of decent-paying jobs has been shortening.”

2 – Transferrable skills are no longer as transferrable. Increasing specialisation, more hybrid approaches, more reactive projects is hitting transferability of skills. While most project talent comes with the “iron three” (budgeting, scoping, and scheduling are hard wired into talent), the relevance of each “power skill” can vary from sector to sector, even organisation to organisation and sometimes project to project. It’s like skill sets are trying to hit a moving target!

The business world is changing at such a pace that the skills you showcase on your CV may no longer be as relevant as you’d like to think when you apply for a new job.

More than this though, we were ‘reminiscing’ in the office about the days when, as a Project Manager, you were ‘a bit Business Analyst one day’ and a ‘bit Change Manager the next day’. Nowadays, these disciplines are much more complex and nuanced. For organisations, the margins of success are so fine that, it pays to have specialists in these fields on your team sheet. Not always possible, especially if they are “on the bench” most of the time. Balancing the value leaked by having a ‘jack of all trades’ approach vs the cost of having specialists waiting for their next call to action can be a tricky calculation!

3 – Wage Inflation vs Budget Deflation. It’s even worse than that though. Project teams are telling me that they just no longer have the financial scope for benched talent. Whereas they may have previously been able to absorb and justify such “waste” as operationally beneficial, talent gaps are inevitably pushing up wages and tighter budgets mean any headcount has to be “on it” all the time.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT AS A SERVICE = ADAPTABILITY AS A SERVICE

A great solution is accessing project resources ‘as a Service’.

If you need a Business Analyst, for instance, but not as a permanent inhouse resource, Business Analysis as a Service (BAaaS), part of Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service, can give you the flexibility you need. Whether it is production of a business case for an IT Project, requirements gathering or data analysis to help with project implementation, BAaaS can be tailored to your specific requirement. 

It’s not just BAs, of course!

PMaaS gives you access to project professionals, resources and tools at a flexible and predictable cost.

Flexibility and Control are key! Stoneseed’s turn-it-on, turn-it-off, turn-it-up, turn-it-down on-demand resource model is pioneering! You can dial up and down IT project resources in sync with your delivery needs, so whether you need a single Project Manager, Business Analyst, Technical Advisory or PMO expert for a few days, or a large team of fully utilised project professionals for longer, with some reasonable planning, with PMaaS you get a wide portfolio of project skills on tap. 

Stoneseed’s services portfolio offers a true end to end service, from IT Technical Advisory, Business Analysis Services and PMO Services through to Programme & Project Delivery. Our teams are experienced across multiple technology solutions, sectors and industries, and we work on all types of projects and programmes such as Business Change, Transformation, Infrastructure, Digital and IT Project Delivery. 

The PMaaS commercial model is as straightforward. Stoneseed will work with you to forecast the project resources required and then provide a straightforward rate card with resources defined by type and skill set. Resources are then called off against your demand schedule, you may flex up and down throughout the period and you are simply billed for the resources consumed at the end of each month, allowing greater control of your budgets.  

PMaaS enables you to align resources as and when you need them, on a cost effective, full-time or part-time basis. Click here for a downloadable PMaaS brochure where you can find out more.

Often, first time clients tell us that they’d been considering ‘as a Service’ resources for a while and having realised the benefits of the model, wish they’d taken the plunge much sooner.

Ironically taking an adaptable approach to resourcing was all they needed to unlock the adaptability that their projects needed. Who knew!  


Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

Sources:
https://www.hbs.edu/managing-the-future-of-work/Documents/research/hiddenworkers09032021.pdf

Top Project Management Skills | PMI Blog | PMI

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/05/25/hiring-in-a-skills-based-economy/?sh=417ef7594617

https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/project-management-as-a-service