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Straight Talk on Project Management

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Old dogs, learning new tricks, teaching young pups, old tricks

Experience as a service – the solution for the looming IT project management talent gap

The PMI’s Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap Report 2017-2027 said, distilling nine pages into half a sentence, that by 2027 there will be considerable widening of the Project Management skills gap.

Time flies, as I write, we are just three years away from being able to mark the PMI’s work. I don’t think they’ll be far off.

When the PMI looked at this previously, their talent gap assessments in 2008 and 2012 made for similar reading, they identified a trending up of demand for project management skills leading to vacuums in supply.

When this latest survey was published, I remember people saying things like “that’s some way off, we’ll have a solution by then”, some even sounded like they believed it, and then others made even bleaker predictions about advancing AI putting us all out of a job by then anyway (love that project management gallows humour)!

Well, it doesn’t look like most organisations have found the solution, and while AI has come a long way (and we have been able to automate many of the ‘mundane’ tasks we do), that’s really only freed up time for existing team members – rather than give project resourcers access to a bunch of new talent.

So, here we are! The Project Management doomsday clock ticks on toward 2027 and the talent gap is looking likely to be more of a chasm in some areas!

We need to give the solution some urgent thought.

IT PROJECT MANAGEMENT TALENT GAP – A MULTI-EDGED SWORD

Whenever this is discussed, recruitment and retention are wheeled out as the biggest challenges, but they feel like broad brushes and, talking with others in the industry, I think it might be slightly more nuanced.

With every passing year more of the available talent is reaching retirement age or just leaving the profession – for various reasons, I asked a friend what a mutual former colleague was up to these days and was told he’d left to open a wine shop citing impossible workloads caused by understaffing.

Meanwhile up and coming talent will have greater opportunities as more industries and more roles require project management skills, retention will become more of an issue. Globally, the gap between the demand for project management skills and the availability of talent continues to widen. This has opened new and varied job opportunities for project professionals in project management-oriented employment (PMOE).

The PMI says that the “global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030. To close the talent gap, 2.3 million people will need to enter PMOE every year just to keep up with demand—this includes project managers and all changemakers.”

Another challenge may be on the horizon. A tranche of the younger generation of project talent are responding to the more diverse opportunities and seizing the day. They are chasing the better salary packages and job prospects, and who’d blame them? They are ambitious and not just climbing the career ladder but leaping from one ladder to the next, but in doing so – are they picking up the skills that will be needed? Anecdotally, I’m hearing some are not – especially the soft, more human skills and traits around emotional intelligence.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT AS A SERVICE

Of course, at this point, you expect the Project Management as a Service provider to extol the virtue of resourcing IT projects using PMaaS talent.

Sure, our innovative on-demand resourcing model is ideal for talent shortages and skills gaps and, sure, the fact that you can dial up and dial down resources according to you need gives you greater control of talent allocation and cost at a time when many are feeling that they have lost control in a talent driven market – we’re always on hand to help 01623 723910.

That isn’t the key takeaway from my conversations with colleagues and clients about this though.

EXPERIENCE IS THE THING OF SUPREME VALUE – HENRY FORD

One of my colleagues, reminded me that most of our Project Management as a Service team have between 7 and 12 years of experience. If you have similarly matured talent in your organisation, you are sitting on a valuable resource that could be your solution to the incoming talent gap storm, even if just in part.

A PMaaS client testimonial recently extolled the added educational and talent-developmental value of having Stoneseed’s professionals work within their team. On top of having the resources needed to deliver your IT Project on time, on spec and within budget, sharing your workday with people who are experienced across multiple technology solutions, sectors and industries, and who have worked on all types of projects and programmes including from Business Change, Transformation, Infrastructure, Digital and IT Project Delivery also gives you rich mine of knowledge for your talent to seam.

Do you know what most IT Project professionals love to do with all that hard earned experience, knowledge, and perspective?

They love to share it.

They love to use it to help the next generation accelerate their expertise level.

So, if your problem is that your IT Project team is rather fluid, i.e. talent is with you for a short time before moving on, and sometimes doesn’t have the necessary skills level, could your more experienced team members take on more of responsibility for upskilling?

PEER TO PEER (P2P) MENTORING

Peer-to-peer mentoring creates a pathway for less experienced talent to seek assistance from colleagues. In our context, it’s especially beneficial, new hires who haven’t amassed the skills your organisation needs and who haven’t yet established work-place connections (or perhaps don’t feel comfortable forming them – remember those human skills) will benefit from a formal structure that makes it feel a natural part of the job. Peer-to-peer mentoring can develop trust and rapport, a feeling of team (that we’re all in it together) which in turn can also help with retention.

In exit interviews, HR friends tell me, many employees cite lack of scope to acquire of job-related knowledge as a reason for moving on. Career trajectory is increasingly important, peer mentoring programmes can deliver this but can also help discern employee needs and personal goals. Providing opportunities for enhancing communication skills and facilitating the tacit transfer of career-related knowledge can significantly contribute to higher employee retention rates.

Such mentoring relationships offer a solid foundation for bonding, especially as the individuals involved share similar experiences within the organisation, on a personal level colleagues develop greater understanding of each other’s interests and know each other as people rather than just workmates!

Moreover, both parties stand to gain by learning from each other and sharing their perspectives. As well as loving to share their knowledge, most IT professionals I know are constantly seeking to learn! “Old dogs learning new tricks while teaching young pups old tricks”, as one IT Project Manager friend once put it.

A peer-to-peer mentoring programme within an organisation can be an extraordinary catalyst for growth! Upskilling your new talent, by encouraging the talent you have to share their business-specific learned experiences, rarely has a down-side. After all, you’ve invested considerable time and money into your existing people, and then more recruiting, hiring and onboarding your new staff – what a way to boost the return on all that investment!! Who doesn’t love bonus ROI?!?!

Finally, a gentle reminder that if your problem is that the talent gap means that you don’t have the required talent to deliver your IT Projects on time, on spec and within budget, let alone mentor any mentees – Stoneseed’s PMaaS has got your back! Both with the pressing resource issue and the sharing of knowledge and experience.

When you create an environment where individuals with shared interests and foster the development of both professional and social skills, your job opportunities become just that little more attractive, and may ease the widening talent gap for your organisation. There is a growing emphasis on strategies to enhance the comfort of new hires and boost employee retention rates, peer mentoring is an ideal solution to connect with newly onboarded employees, facilitate more effective engagement with the organisation and create a channel for enhanced employee well-being and positive outcomes.

Remember, the primary distinguishing factor between the mentor and the mentee is the mentor’s accumulated time and experience in the field, but the mentoring process can be a reciprocal learning experience, with substantial career-related benefits for both. At Stoneseed, we’ve seen this! Our PMaaS talent always “come home” with a little something new under their belt – when you hire 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 a longer period, the experience they gain with you makes them better – so we’d like to say thank you. I hope we can do the same for your organisation.

So, Henry Ford once said, “Experience is the thing of supreme value” and he’s also quoted as saying, “You take all the experience and judgment of men over 50 out of the world and there wouldn’t be enough left to run it.” Leaving the over-50 part of that aside, isn’t that the widening IT Project talent gap in a nutshell? All the experience and judgement that we have gained is going to become a precious business asset as shortages becomes more of a challenge – from filling immediate talent gaps to upskilling teams.

A Stoneseed colleague put it like this, “There’s value in ‘us genXers’. Especially in the face of AI, our EQ and life experience will become more valuable due to scarcity. Plus, with extended retirement age, we’ll probably all need, and want to, keep working. Businesses who aren’t already thinking like this are missing a trick.”

As I say, Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service team all have between 7 and 12 years of experience.

OLD DOGS, LEARNING NEW TRICKS, TEACHING YOUNG PUPS, OLD TRICKS – Experience as a Service – at your service.

 

 

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

 

 

Sources:

https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/job-growth-report.pdf

https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/career-central/talent-gap-report-2021-finalfinal.pdf?