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Straight Talk on Project Management

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The top 3 skills and characteristics IT project talent will need in 2024

As I write, 2024 is looming! Demand for Project Managers is booming!

Rather than rest on their laurels and enjoy the benefits of a talent driven market, the best IT Project Managers are honing their skillset to the needs of the market and the best CIOs are noticing!

Based on conversations with CIOs, Project Leaders, and HR Directors, these are the top 3 skills and characters that IT Project decision makers will be looking for in their IT project talent in 2024.

Get in touch and share the key skills that you think you’ll be looking for, let’s start a conversation! And, if your project team has any gaps in terms of skills or capability, ask me about Project Management as a Service!

THE TOP 3 SKILLS AND CHARACTERISTICS IT PROJECT TALENT WILL NEED IN 2024.

1 – BE AN EVERGREEN LEARNER – SHOW A PASSION FOR PROGRESSION

The great Jim Rohn once said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job”. I think that’s truer than ever these days. Happily, it’s in the DNA of IT Project talent to keep improving, investing in yourself, and sharpening the saw to future-proof yourself.

“It’s our culture and company policy to constantly improve the individuals across our teams,” Director of HR Andrea told me, “If you start the next project measurably better equipped than you started the last, I’ve done my job.”

The approach of Andrea’s firm, consciously investing in its people, is becoming more common, but for Andrea the greatest buzz comes when employees lead the process. “I can search out great programmes but it’s when a Project Manager comes to me with a course suggestion that the real yields for the business are realised. Candidates who can demonstrate a desire to become better are the ones who stand out in the hiring process.

Interestingly, Andrea also says that it doesn’t even have to be traditional project management learning, “This year, six of our team completed mental health awareness training,” she told me, “and that has had a huge impact across the business.”

“Avid Learning” is among the “3 Skills Every Project Manager Needs To Succeed In 2024” shared by the brilliant leadership coach Rachel Wells in an article for Forbes, and she echoes Andrea’s point about thinking outside your role. She writes, “While continuous learning such as that obtained through a PMP certification or similar is ideal, there are many other ways to advance your training and professional development. For example, you could decide to ask your employer to allow you to work on a range of programs or projects which are slightly outside your expertise or comfort zone, so you can sharpen your skills and refine your areas of improvement.”

CIOs building the best teams are noticing the talent who thrive on constant improvement. “When you demonstrate eagerness to learn and continue your professional development and training while in your role,” Rachel adds, “You position yourself in a favourable light to your employer, become more efficient in your work, and develop and refine your soft and hard skills such as budgeting, risk management, and leadership.”

The successful Project Manager for an ambitious CIO’s team is still a mix of technical expertise with a solid understanding of IT systems, methodologies, and tools relevant to the project and old favourites like problem-solving skills and time and resource management, moreover CIOs are also looking for strong leadership, great communication skills, and mastery in strategic thinking as essentials in achieving successful project outcomes that are aligned with the organisation’s business goals.

It’s worth doing regular audits on these skills, to help catch the eye of the CIO hiring for the best projects!

Stoneseed’s PMaaS Project Managers often tell me that the greatest personal growth comes when they bravely step out of their comfort zone and take on challenges that force them to think and operate beyond their usual paradigms!

As Rachel writes, “To stay relevant and maintain a competitive edge in the job market requires you to keep abreast of current industry trends, changes in the market, new technologies, and best practices in project management.”

2 – ADD SUSTAINABILITY INTO YOUR STRATEGIC THINKING     

“Project talent is hard wired to think strategically,” CIO Jon says, “We’re encouraging our teams to bubble up sustainability in the mix. It’s probably the fastest growing business case consideration for the board in 2024, to the point it’s now measured as part of the ROI forecasts (return on investment) when scoping a project.”

I hear this, or words to this effect, often and it’s clear that sustainability is more important than ever. A friend has just delivered an IT Project that, he says, is his greenest ever. They sourced refurbished hardware, migrated business functions to the cloud as much as possible, both of which would have been unthinkable just a couple of years back as the CEO would have insisted on new desktops and shuddered at the thought of cloud computing – they’ve even installed Ecosia (the tree planting search engine that relies entirely on renewable energy) as their default.

According to Ericsson, in their ‘A Quick Guide To Your Digital Carbon Footprint’ report, “The total life cycle carbon footprint of the ICT sector is 1.4% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.”

It’s worth mentioning that some claim it’s even higher than 1.4%, according to a study carried out by the Shift Project, a Paris-based think-tank on energy transition, the world’s digital carbon footprint accounts for about 4% of all greenhouse emissions. This is what probably led to repeated claims that IT’s greenhouse gas output was comparable to levels emitted by the aviation industry! The Ericsson report addresses this – if you fancy a little light reading before bedtime!!!)

Whatever the percentage, we must bear in mind that IT was meant to provide opportunities to accelerate decarbonisation, be part of the solution not part of the problem. Increasing access to technology, to reach more people, is an integral part of the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development but this has the potential to expand our carbon footprint! One of the key takeaways of the Ericsson report is that “The ICT sector’s carbon footprint could be reduced by over 80% if all electricity consumed came from renewable energy sources.” I guess, we all need think in terms of sustainability at every stage of the IT Project process!

3 – “TO GO HELL FOR LEATHER WITH NO LOSS OF FIDELITY TO YOUR PROJECT”

I love that! This is how Andy, himself an IT Project Leader, summed up this third skill that PMs will need in 2024.

Andy explains, “Have you ever listened to a podcast at ‘2x’ speed? Did you understand the content? IT Project Managers must develop this ability in our work!”

Andy’s developed what he calls “The 3Rs at 3x Speed” which boils down to: the ability to quickly read and understand; communicate succinctly (write an email that is concise and to the point and update things like Gantt charts with “unprecedented brevity”) and calculate “faster than a chess grand master”.

Project teams are working under huge pressures, delivery expectations have intensified but margins for error have constricted, so although our response times, our workflows and even our application of the traditional 3Rs have been accelerated, there cannot be any loss of accuracy and clarity.

When we met, Andy talked me through his work that morning: he’d read through a project proposal and simultaneously assessed the technical, practical and legal implications and issues; he’d identified a budget error in a new project and communicated it to the relevant people; and written a project brief that is both succinct and yet detailed, and ready for the team that picks it up to quickly understand and hit the ground running with! Phew! By this stage I was only on my second coffee of the day!

A good project manager has always needed to be able to employ and deploy higher than average reading, writing, and mathematics skills, we’ve always responded and acted at pace – the consensus is that, in 2024 (and beyond), we’ll need to do it even faster and better!

SKILLS GAPS? PROJECT MANAGER AS A SERVICE

Need a Project Manager with specific skills or capabilities? Call on Stoneseed’s team of IT Project Managers.

Whether you need access to single resources for a flexible time period or a fully managed service, we have a resource pool of Programme and Project Management specialists, who are all experienced practitioners from across the complete portfolio of project and programmes.

Stoneseed is here for any IT project management resource needs. We provide a comprehensive range of Programme Management, Project Management, Business Analysis, Technical Advisory and PMO/PSO resources, our memberships and accreditations include PRINCE2, Project Management Institute, P3M3, Agile Project Management Certification and MSP. Experience gained from multiple sectors and industries means our clients benefit from a practical, hands-on approach to programme and project delivery that works.

2024 will be here before we know it, for you, reading this, may have arrived – or even passed by already.

Time flies and so must I! Thanks for reading!

Wishing you success, health, and happiness – and fully resourced, fully skilled IT Projects!

 

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

 

https://www.ericsson.com/en/reports-and-papers/industrylab/reports/a-quick-guide-to-your-digital-carbon-footprint

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/tech-trends-for-2024-11168

https://theshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Lean-ICT-Report_The-Shift-Project_2019.pdf

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelwells/2023/11/10/3-skills-every-project-manager-needs-to-succeed-in-2024/