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The “new” Project Manager: characteristics and challenges

Netmind - The “new” Project Manager: characteristics and challenges    Article |
Alfred Maeso | 21/12/17

It is clear that in recent years, the figure of the Project Manager has changed. The emergence of Agile methods, the need to quickly achieve results, and the development of organisations to adapt to the digital world all affect the definition of the role of Project Manager in organisations, to the point that there are those who believe they will disappear, at least as we understand them now. For example, it is expected that in 2020, 60% of current IT project managers will be replaced by other roles outwith IT.




As Mario Andretti, former Formula 1 driver said, “if everything seems to be under control, you are not going fast enough”.

This phrase perfectly shows the struggle, in our changing world, between obtaining fast results for the business and the need for control and “good practice” in project management.

In this time of digital change, Project Managers rooted in certifications, best practices, methods and frameworks have become a type of dinosaur which may go extinct. Evolution makes project managers into proponents and leaders of change in organisations, in charge of managing increasing complexity, innovative individuals who establish bonds with the business and with suppliers.

This article presents some of the characteristics that this “new” Project Manager must have to be able to survive in this new reality:


Characteristics of the “new” Project Manager

New focus. Beyond the Iron Triangle

It is not enough to finish on time and under budget. The only measure of real progress is the value delivered to the client.

The figure of Project Manager is Client-centric, that is, the client is at the centre of everything, in all decisions.


New skills. The serving leader

The Project Management Institute (PMI), in the next edition of the PMBOK® Guide, has prepared a change to the definition of skills which a project manager must have. It is not enough to have the PMP® certification; there must also be understanding of the business and leadership skills. We do not want just managers, but leaders.

We need project managers who are not only involved in day to day activities, but who are able to delegate and empower teams, thereby becoming mentors and facilitators; serving leaders. Democratisation and collaboration above hierarchy and authority.

Gartner comments that the PMs of the coming years must be adaptable, innovative, intuitive, focused on management of the product more than the project, and prepared to serve any part of the organisation at any time (“PM Everywhere”).


New technologies

In its latest annual report, VersionONE indicated that the most commonly used tool for project management (agile!) in the world is Microsoft Excel. It is clear that a good tool is not essential for managing projects well. However, there are new realities that are only possible by making the most of what technology currently provides:

  • There are a growing number of virtual teams
  • We have increasing mobility
  • We require ever greater capacity for analysis of data from different sources
  • We require ever better management of knowledge for making effective decisions and improving at the pace that the organisation requires

Therefore, tools tend to be less specialised in techniques (“Microsoft project” type tools) and more focused on encouraging collaboration at all levels. In today’s projects, we need cloud environments, mobile Apps, the use of social networks, and analytics, etc. At this link there is a comparison between different tools.

Whatever the future expected for the profession, we remember Darwin’s famous quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.



Alfred Maeso

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