Someone asked me recently how project management has changed over the last decade. It’s a big question! There are a number of things that have jumped out at me, even just comparing my own experiences from when I started managing projects over 10 years ago to the workplace today. Here’s my view on what the main changes have been.
Social media at work
We’ve seen the introduction of social media tools in the workplace. I won’t forget speaking at the APM conference in 2008 where I spoke about how the rest of business worked in comparison to how project managers worked, and why we should be embracing technology and social media tools. I think a lot of the audience were surprised, and I certainly had some interesting conversations with bemused people afterwards.
We’ve moved beyond Friends Reunited-style networking to systems that help us work better professionally, both with external networks and colleagues on the same project, and we wouldn’t have had that use of technology 10 years ago.
Bring Your Own Device
Allied to the use of collaboration and social media-style technology in the workplace, we’ve also seen the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). I’ve had a tablet for a number of years and it has made a difference to how I work. Plus there are literally dozens of apps all proclaiming to help you get things done better/faster/cheaper. It does take a while to find a few you personally like. I think the next step here will be to get some type of portal technology that takes all my favourite apps and social media feeds and puts them together so I don’t have to use multiple systems for project management.
There’s more emphasis on people today. And less on following rigid processes. Thankfully. The introduction of a section on stakeholder management in the new PMBOK Guide® is an example of this, although we’ve seen the shift to better models of team and stakeholder engagement develop over the past few years.
It might seem strange to say that people on projects matter more today than they did 10 years ago, but I really think this is the case. There’s a greater emphasis on collaboration, teamwork and project managers having soft skills to complement their ability to schedule tasks and manage risks. And the command and control mentality is all but dead.
A shift to leadership
There’s also more emphasis on leadership. As part of that, there’s a shift towards knowing why you are doing what you are doing on your project. Previously, there was a belief that project managers implemented other people’s strategies and we were responsible for hitting deadlines and keeping track of the money. Today, we’re seeing project managers take on a role where they can challenge senior managers about why projects are being done and advise about premature project closure when required. This is a massive move towards project leadership instead of simply implementing processes.
This will evolve further – if you can lead a project you can lead other areas of business, so the career path for project managers over the next 10 years will hopefully see more of us branching out of projects, programmes and portfolios into managing business units at executive levels.
So that’s what I’ve seen. What other changes have you seen over the past 10 years that have made you realise how project management has moved on? Let us know in the comments below.