Strong Project Leaders Sought, but Focus Is on Skills

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Strong Project Leaders Sought, but Focus Is on Skills

The training focus will remain on hard skills, even though many organizations will continue to assert that their project managers lack leadership skills such as communications, negotiations, organizational change management, and customer relationship management. The reason is simple: Most companies would prefer to send their project managers to targeted training in the specifics of project and program leadership rather than generic leadership training that is so commonplace.

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Agile Development Effectiveness Challenged

Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. When compared to traditional methods, studies show that agile methods can reduce costs, speed time to market, and improve quality. However, in 2013, many organizations will continue to fall short in realizing the promise of agile. Why? Because the professionals assigned to agile projects aren't trained in agile methods and their organizations are not culturally ready to embrace its principles.

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Project Management Is Not Just for Project Managers Anymore

For decades "project manager" was a role, not a title. People claimed to have come to the position by accident. That's all changed in the past 20 years. Organizations developed project manager career paths and hundreds of thousands became certified. While the professionalism of project management will continue, organizations will require individuals outside of those who carry the PM title to perform the role of project manager. Business units such as HR, sales, marketing, and legal services need to train their employees in project management as well.

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Large Projects Pose Unique Challenges

Size does matter, and when it comes to large projects—the ones that run into the hundreds of millions of dollars—the impact and interplay of downsizing, complexity, and outsourcing are the "one, two, three strikes you're out" challenges that organizations face. Projects in engineering procurement and construction management (EPCM), oil and gas exploration, major weapons systems development, and large transportation initiatives often involve major outsourcing of work. As a result, in 2013 we will see more organizations build up their in-house expertise to ensure their contractors are doing the job right.

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Project Management Officers Will Focus on Driving Innovation

Gone are the days when simply implementing a methodology and creating a project dashboard convinced corporate executives that the project management officer was pulling his/her weight. More organizations are conducting Project Management Office audits to identify areas where the director can accelerate its evolution and provide higher levels of value to the organization.

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U.S. Government Will Upgrade Its PM Certification

Having a certified project manager is mandatory for agencies in the civilian side of government in order to receive funding for major IT projects. However, existing policy that sets the minimum training hours to earn a PM (known as FAC P/PM) certification has been interpreted by a few agencies as guidance only. A reduced number of training hours has been accepted by the Federal Acquisition Institute (which oversees the certification) as meeting the goals of the policy. In 2013 we will see the federal government, through the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), take action to bolster the quality of the PM certification.

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Vendor Management Practices Will Top the List of Skills for Project Managers

Ask people in any organization that outsources its projects or large components of them, and they'll tell you they have vendor management problems characterized by contract scope creep, poor quality, missed deadlines, and blown contract budgets. And, with outsourcing on the rise, these problems will only multiply if their root causes are not addressed. We will see more organizations addressing this critical need in 2013.

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More Pressures Coming to Current PMOs

ESI research shows that the average life span of the PMO is about four years. That number is likely to drop if project performance continues to underwhelm executives and stakeholders. PMOs are created to improve project performance, yet few organizations give the PMO enough resources and authority to do the job.

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Portfolio Management Will Take On a Greater Role as Funding Tightens

Portfolio management is more than a prioritization exercise. It is the culminating activity in competitive strategy where executives have identified the programs and projects that will turn their intentions into reality. We are witnessing more companies investing in IT and process improvement to get a better handle on all of the project-based investments occurring across their business. Many organizations will continue to develop a portfolio hierarchy at the division, business unit, regional, and corporate-wide levels.

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Organizations Will Adopt Agile Methods to Accelerate Time to Market

Agile methods, when practiced by trained professionals on the right projects in the right organizations, have the potential to boost performance in a variety of ways. However, the top benefit derived from adopting agile (i.e., ability to manage changing priorities) is not the same top reason organizations adopt agile in the first place; they do so to accelerate time to market.

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