The Future is Now: The 21st Century Enterprise Project Manager
Project Management is a relatively old profession. Some say it is not really a profession, but more of a line of work or collection of activities. Others say it is a discipline, a business practice that is somewhat challenged in the complex world of business.
THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT JOURNEY
20th century project management has been a mostly tactical endeavor, focusing mostly on the technical tools of the trade such as work breakdown schedules, earned value, and Gantt charts to gauge progress. Program and Portfolio Management are practiced in most organizations but are experiencing difficulties achieving optimal performance. Project Management Offices (PMOs) have come and gone regularly because it is difficult to demonstrate the value of the group.
PROJECT SUCCESS MEASURES
In the early days of project management, and indeed, too often even today, success is measured in terms of on time, on budget, and on scope metrics. As a result, there is little focus on the business benefits that are delivered, in terms of value to the customer and wealth to the bottom line.
So, let’s examine how well we perform on projects using these measures. Certainly, project management has improved over the last few decades. In the early 1990’s, projects were successful according to the on-time, on-scope, on-budget model only about 15% of the time. As we progress through the first years of the 21st century, we have raised that success rate to 39%. But this is still woefully inadequate, as you can see by the following graphic.
It is clear, the call to action is that we need to transform project management practices fast to meet the challenges of the 21st century. While some project managers work at the strategic level today driving business value, the focus of the vast majority of the PM practitioners has been mostly:
- Management vs. Leadership
- Tactical orientation vs. systems thinking
- Project and requirements management vs. complexity management
- Linear vs. adaptive
- Business as usual vs. innovation
- Project outcomes vs. business/customer value
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRANSFORMATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The 21st century challenges us to change the way we initiate and manage change in our organizations. Traditional jobs are changing. PMs are partnering with business analysts to drive value through projects. BAs are focusing on strategy, innovation, value vs. requirements management. Project managers are focusing on creativity, complexity management, continuous delivery, project ROI vs. project schedule, budget, scope.
Organizations cannot find the talent they need to negotiate the constant change and unrelenting complexities of the 21st century. They need critical thinkers with the ability to adapt, invent, and reinvent. Collaborate, create, and innovate. Understand and leverage the complexities to harness creativity.
To remain competitive in these challenging times, CIOs realize the PM and BA partnership is at the heart of future success. CIOs appreciate that value-focused PMs and BAs are in demand and will play a critical role in the future, but not the type of PMs and BAs we have today. And so, CIOs are rebuilding the PM and BA roles. CIOs around the globe are mining their resources to find experienced and solutions focused IT and business professionals who are ready and willing to step into the leadership role of the Enterprise Project Leader moving from a tactical focus to a strategic solution focus.i
THE RISE OF THE 21ST CENTURY PM AND BA PRACTICES – IT’S ALL ABOUT VALUE
Project management and business analysis are transforming themselves before our very eyes to create better business outcomes. Some refer to it as ‘Breakthrough Project Management.’ The idea of the enterprise business analyst (EBA) and enterprise project manager (EPM) partnership is coming into its own. The focus is clear: it’s all about value.
While traditional approaches to PM and BA are still effective for low to moderately complex projects, they will often be used in very different ways. Project requirements and plans will be leaner, more visual, and updated iteratively as more is learned. Teams will welcome change that add value. Projects will be simpler, smaller, and more manageable, with fewer features. Project success will be measured in terms of value to the customer and wealth to the bottom line.
EXPLOITING THE POWER OF SHARED LEADERSHIP
The PM and BA will not be alone in their leadership roles. Key project leaders in multiple areas will share the leadership of the project and will be fully accountable for project performance.
EXPLOITING THE UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES OF THE PM AND THE BA
PMs and BAs think about the project phases differently. PMs think in terms of initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing. While BAs think in terms of the traditional product development lifecycle: requirements, design, construct, test, deploy, and maintain. Indeed, the new Agile approach to projects is altering both approaches.
EXPLOITING THE SYNERGIES THAT ARE NEEDED TO DRIVE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
The mantra today is innovate or evaporate. The new collaborative model of project leadership fosters creativity and innovation – the lifeblood of organizational survival.
EXPLOITING THE BALANCE BETWEEN ANALYSIS AND INTUITION, ORDER AND DISRUPTIVE CHANGE
While not all change initiatives are complex, it is clear that the world is changing rapidly, technology advances are fast and furious, and businesses need to continually innovate. If we are not bringing about value, we should question the need for the initiative.
While moderately complex projects will still need traditional PM and BA practices focusing on requirements definition and project management, low complexity will become scarce as we transgress through the 21st century. Traditional practices work when not dealing with complexity, but are deficient when managing complex enterprise change initiatives.
Enterprise PMs and BAs focus on continuous delivery of business value and innovation. EPMs/EBAs understand the holistic nature of change; transformational change requires attention to people, process, organizations, rules, data, applications, and technologies to make up a transformational business practice. The EPM/EBA embrace business architecture and deliberate design to help temper project failure.
Realizing that a holistic view of change is both an art and a science, the EPM/EBA partners strike a balance between analysis and intuition; order and disruptive change. Decision making is collaborative. Thinking is global, all-inclusive, strategic. Complexity is leveraged to achieve creativity. Leadership is shared, diverse, expert. Teams are collaborative and high performing. Methods are adaptive, creative, agile, visual. Solutions are innovative, competitive, and sometimes unsettling and disruptive. Value is delivered early and often.
Breakthrough project practices produce groundbreaking results. It requires different thinking and new practices and systems.
|Business as Usual||Business Accelerated|
|3-5 year roadmap||Create a system of engagement|
|Big, feature-rich updates||Go to market faster, smaller feature sets. Iterate with fast feedback loops|
|Control changes||Welcome changes that add value. Reduce the cost of change thru iteration|
|Short-term focus||A long-term vision of products|
|Quality means fewer defects||Quality means customer is delighted and loyal|
|Deliver what they asked for yesterday||Deliver what they really need tomorrow|
|Hard costs count||Realize the cost of lost opportunities|
|Use agile to do the wrong things faster||Use the right method for the right product|
|Track changes for CYA||Track changes to see where the threads lead|
CHANGING THE PROJECT SUCCESS MODEL
The project success criteria need to be changed to include the concept of value, wealth, and business benefits as well and innovation and creativity.
ENTERPRISE PROJECT LEADERSHIP – A COMPLEX ROLE
One of the reasons the role and capabilities of the enterprise PM/BA is difficult to describe is that it is a very complex function with many variants. The Generalist wears many hats, from strategy analyst to business relationship manager. Whereas the specialist may focus on business architecture or business process management. At the same time, they are often business domain experts so that they understand and are authorities in both the business domain and the technology supporting the business. Mostly all focus on business/technology optimization, staying current on the latest technological advances and incorporating them into the IT suite of offerings.
The future is now. It is an exciting time to be an enterprise leader of change. The opportunity to bring about value to society and competitive edge to your organization is at hand. Don’t miss out.
Don’t forget to leave your comments below.
Mark McDonald, Ph.D., former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs
Better, Smarter, Faster: Accelerating Innovation Across the Enterprise, 2013, Jama Software, Inc.