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REDISCOVER Project Management

Driving Change

By Lynda C. Corpuz

Despite setbacks such as lesser time, smaller budgets, and fewer people, project managers are continuously rising up to the challenge

The facts and figures say it all. The 2008 Measuring and Improving Staff Performance study conducted by the Project Management Institute ([PMI], in cooperation with The Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU]) shows that the reported success rate for “important” project averages from 70% to 80%.

The same PMI study conducted with 591 senior executives worldwide reveals that 27% of executives believe in “standardizing” project management process as the most effective way to improve project success rates.

They also say that their company’s performance suffered by up to 72% due to their employees’ lack of skills.

Critical skills in the next five years include project risk identification and mitigation (up by 6% from 21% in the past five years) and project planning skills (up by 5% from 18% in the past five years). Managing people (25%) and talent (19%) are deemed to be the critical management skills. Executives will also be looking for motivated staff that is able to lead strategic change initiatives. Respondents in India and Latin America also stressed the need for capability to increase operational efficiency (25%). Those from the IT and healthcare sectors also highlighted innovation as a key capability.

CHANGING FOR THE BEST

PMI (the 40-year-old leading professional membership organization for project managers, boasting of 500,000 members and credential holders from more than 185 countries) continues to boost project management (PM) with an increasing role in the global economy.

As per the 2008 PMI’s annual membership survey, project managers, on average, are multitasking on four projects: demonstrating their project management skill; displaying the ability to execute and coordinate related, interdependent projects; handling portfolio management, and selecting programs and projects that will help meet an organization’s strategic objectives.

In a phone interview with Management Systems, PMI’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Langley points out that project managers today are not simply managing change – they are driving it.

“They’re at the forefront of their organization’s strategic technology efforts, and are more likely to be valued as high-level, strategic resources than project managers were in the past. They’re not just tacticians, they’re technology experts and strategists as well,” Langley stresses. At the time of the interview, the PMI chief was attending the PMI Global Congress 2010–Asia Pacific held in Melbourne, Australia last February.

Project managers are also becoming increasingly responsible for managing risks within and outside the organization, Langley adds. “[We have to check also] if a project manager is [capable] to effect organizational resolution and change. That’s the shift now from five to eight years back,” he says.

ADDRESSING DEMAND AND SUPPLY

While there is a demand, the talent shortage is also a concern. As based on the EIU findings, there is a projected 6 million shortage of skilled professionals by 2013. The Anderson Economic Group findings, meanwhile, cite that employment in project-oriented occupations across all industries will grow from 1.5% (from 2006 to 2016) versus 1% growth from employment. “[The projected shortage] is real, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise given the global development,” Langley says.

Further, there will be an average of 1.2 million job openings each year in project-oriented occupations and spending in projectized industries will increase by USD4.5 trillion. Many of the individuals actively working as project managers are now at retirement age, versus the lesser number of individuals joining the profession annually, thus creating a shortage that has a profound effect on the worldwide economy. “There is already an existing shortage [prior to the global financial crisis], complicated by a large population of retiring professionals in developed countries like the U.S., Japan,

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Written by Lynda C. Corpuz

May 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

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