Dr. Harold Kerzner’s latest book, Project Management 2.0, provides a thorough comparison between the practices of the past five decades and those of the current one.
Many of the practices which Dr. Kerzner has identified as PM 2.0 are those which we are already intimately familiar with. These include governance by committee instead of by a single sponsor, moving beyond the triple constraint when evaluating project success, and eschewing rigid “one size fits all” methodologies in favor of those which are flexible and can be adapted to fit the needs of specific projects and organization cultures.
The book covers other practices which are still a work in progress for companies including the shift from generating large volumes of largely administrative paperwork as the only means of assessing project progress to objective, automated data-driven reporting as well as the evolution from narrowly focused enterprise project management measurement systems to ones which are value-based incorporating benefits measurement and assessing the impact of trade-offs.
However, there are others which seem very far off in the future for those companies who haven’t reached higher levels of organizational project management maturity.
- Project dedication – while it is proven that multitasking reduces and setting up persistent teams increases throughput, functional dedication continues to dominate organization structures. While functional organization is good for operational work, it increases complexity for projects.
- Effective project termination – the mindset that once a project has commenced it must be allowed to complete is still prevalent. The realization that project completion is meaningless if value is not generated is still not mainstream.
- Executive recognition of the value of project management – while organizations invest in career paths for titled project managers and establish PMOs and communities of practice, this is often done grudgingly and without the recognition that effective project management creates competitive advantage and hence should be encouraged as a core competency to be possessed by the majority of staff.
One practice which stood out as clearly contrary to current practices is the involvement of project managers in project selection, evaluation and portfolio prioritization and balancing activities.
In many of the companies I’ve worked with, a project manager usually gets assigned to a project once the decision has been taken to proceed. Occasionally, project managers get engaged during ideation to help sponsors articulate their project’s vision appropriately to satisfy entrance criteria. However, rarely have I witnessed a project manager who has significant influence over intake or priority decisions.
Some of this relates to leadership perception of the role of project management, but it also has a lot to do with a project manager’s focus on developing hard and soft skills which can reduce time available to master business processes. Without the latter, it will be difficult for a project manager to go “toe to toe” with a business stakeholder on intake or prioritization decisions.
Dr. Kerzner has painted an encouraging picture of the near future of project management, but the changes in behavior required to achieve that end state are significant.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.” – Laozi