Recently, whilst leading a webinar for the BCS, John Thorpe made the suggestion that project management is going through a phase where it feels like “everybody wants to be a project manager“.
It’s the job title that so many people, from many diverse backgrounds, want to associate themselves with; people see the upsides of good pay, exciting opportunities, and potentially the opportunity to work across industry sectors.
Project Management appears to be everywhere too! The word “project” is getting attached to so many things. We see anything from a football team rebuild to HS2 being described as such. It has become a word people are now comfortable with using and most understand the message it is meant to convey.
Basically, the word is used to let people know that something is going on and change is being made; without the worry of what, by whom and all importantly how.
Big pictures, create interesting scenarios and it would appear that this is driving the situation where “everybody” wants a piece of the project management pie; but is this a good thing?
Yes! It is a good thing
The more “projects” we see, hopefully, the more project roles will be created and need practitioners to fill. Not just Project Manager roles either, project management as we know is a team sport and many projects require many more people to support them, such as: PMO, Project Planner, Project Co-ordinator, Senior Project Manager, Programme Manager, Portfolio Manager, etc.
Project Management is a broad church, and today is so much more than just being about “traditional project managers” (in fact, some projects might not even require a project manager). People are finally starting to recognise this need to flex and in doing so the industry and profession as a whole will be able to grow. In fact, PMI has stated in a study that they estimate by 2027, there will be a demand for 87.7 million people working in project orientated roles.
Another positive is that as more people take on the traditional views, it is becoming much more approachable and less stuffy, less old man in a suit, clinging on to their certificates and no entry signs! As new tools and initiatives come into place more people will be able to access and work in project oreintated roles. The industry will have to evolve and bring in new ideas and thoughts in order to meet the anticipated demand.
No, its a bad thing!
In Project Management there is no barrier to entry like there is for other positions such as Doctor, Vet or Teacher; so ultimately we can suffer from a lack of quality control. So we will often see roles with titles that are the same but that’s normally where the similarities end.
You could realistically get 2 practitioners with the title “project manager”, one of whom is on a salary of £25k with minimal experience and responsibility; whilst the other is on £125k+ with a lifetime of experience and in charge of massive budgets, risks etc. The lack of a consistent recognised standard means that project management is currently in the eyes of the buyer who has to work out what they want and how much they are willing to pay. We discussed in a previous blog how different companies will consider project management to be different things.
We need to make sure that we scratch the surface of these titles to make sure we are hiring the right skill set and not just the right title.
Secondly, with the term “project” being attached to a lot more things we can see things being mislabeled as projects. For example, BAU activities can often be confused with PM activities. Also due to the familiarity and profile that comes with the word “project”, initiatives like HS2 get referred to as a project, when realistically they could probably be considered a Programme or Portfolio with 100’s of projects contained within.
Hiring correctly could then become complicated if HR and those responsible for hiring don’t understand the domain, would you really want to hire a project manager to be in charge of HS2 as a whole? Or run the day-to-day functions of a business? In reality, the answer is probably not! The key is to understand the skills and experiences that a practitioner need to bring to fulfill the actual role and then hire against these; rather than a preconceived job description that has been gathering dust in the HR files for the last 20 years!
Keep an open mind
So with all that being said, it’s important that in a world where project management is everywhere you keep an open mind and maintain maximum flexibility. There truly is no one definition of a Project Manager or Project Management and interpreting this remains and will be a crucial skill as we move forward to meet new challenges.
You have to embrace what comes with it, if you are looking to hire make sure you look under the bonnet of the job titles and if you are looking for project work make sure you know where your skills and experience fit in with the wider picture and where you want your career path to go; adjusting your job searches accordingly.
If you would like to see John’s FREE Project Management as a Career webinar in full click below.