“Supercharged” project managers will thrive in the new transformation economy

05 May 2017

Some of the key areas PMs want to improve their skills include business analysis, influencing and relationship-building.

Some of the key areas PMs want to improve their skills include business analysis, influencing and relationship-building.

The professional project manager (PM) might become a thing of the past unless he or she evolves to embrace the new transformation economy, according to a new study.

The research suggests that the PM of the future will be valued above all for creativity, flexibility, agility, emotional intelligence and alignment with their businesses’ or organisation’s strategic goals. 

The study was carried out by AXELOS, the global custodian of project management methodology PRINCE2.

It says more than five million people are employed in PM roles across the UK. It's claimed this number is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years as the role moves from being a specialist discipline to a generalist business skill.

AXELOS surveyed 187 senior PMs from the private and public sectors, representing organisations such as NHS Blood and Transplant, the Crown Prosecution Service, VISA, Meggit Plc and the Ambition Group. 

It found that most of them (76 per cent) believe that the job title ‘project manager’ will eventually be superseded by ‘business manager’, while the title ‘transformation director’ will define the “supercharged PM” of the future.

For full-time PMs who are able to skill up and bring agility, creativity and flexibility to projects, the rewards will be great: “They will benefit from higher earnings as they tap into the gig economy, while professionals who can drive the strategic organisational vision and achieve business transformation will be rewarded with senior management roles and even welcomed onto the board,” states AXELOS.

The survey also reveals that six out of ten respondents believe AI and machine learning will have a profound impact on the profession: 59 per cent say automation will replace many routine PM tasks, while 90 per cent predict that project risk will increase, requiring PMs to develop new skills to overcome this challenge.

Eight out of ten (84 per cent) agreed that agile working practices will only grow in importance, becoming standard across all industry sectors, not just software development and IT.  

With clients and stakeholders already wanting to achieve results faster and more flexibly, 89 per cent are aware of the need to up their game. 

However, the study found that many PMs feel that they currently lack the strategic skills and vision required to accelerate their career. Ninety per cent admitted that they need to be better at understanding and aligning themselves with their organisation’s strategic vision and goals.

The key areas where they want to improve their skills include: strategy; business analysis; change management; organisation(al) diplomacy; influencing; and relationship-building.