Project managers need to skill-up to thrive in the “transformation economy”

New research by AXELOS, global custodian of PRINCE2, the world’s most-practiced project management methodology, suggests that the project manager (PM) of the future will be valued above all for creativity, flexibility, agility, emotional intelligence and alignment with the strategic goals of the business or organization. 90% of PMs currently say they need a stronger strategic vision that aligns with the goals of the business.

The number of people employed in project management roles is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years, according to 76% of project managers, as project management moves from being a specialist discipline to a generalist business skill. For full-time PM’s 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 organizational vision and achieve business transformation will be rewarded with senior management roles and even welcomed onto the board. 

PRINCE2 methodology
AXELOS commissioned the survey in advance of the Summer (July) 2017 launch of the latest evolution of PRINCE2. The methodology has been updated to reflect developments in business practices over the past decade and now places an unprecedented emphasis on tailoring projects to the specific needs and objectives of an organization and its environment.  It is also now better aligned with the wider AXELOS Project and Programme Management (PPM) portfolio, including MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) and M_o_R (Management of Risk).

The survey covered 187 senior project managers, representing such organizations as NHS Blood and Transplant, the Crown Prosecution Service, VISA, Meggit PLC and the Ambition Group. Most of them (76%) feel that the job title ‘project manager’ will, over time, be superseded by ‘business manager’, while the title ‘transformation director’ will define the supercharged PM of the future.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Six out of ten believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning will have a profound impact on the profession: 59% say that automation will replace many routine PM tasks, while 90% predict that project risk will increase, requiring PM’s to develop new skills to overcome this challenge.

At the moment, PM’s too often seem to lack the strategic skills and vision required to accelerate their career. 90% of respondents say that they need to be better at understanding and aligning themselves with the strategic vision and goals of their organization. If they want to survive and thrive in the brave new world of business, they need to sharpen their skills in key areas: strategy, business analysis, change management, organization[al] diplomacy, influencing and relationship-building.

Embracing agile working practices
Eight out of ten PMs (84%) 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% of PM’s are aware of the need to up their game.

Peter Hepworth, Chief Executive Officer of AXELOS said: “Time and again we hear that the only constant in the world is change. Over recent years project management has undergone a transformation and it will continue to do so at a rapid pace as it responds to evolutions in business practices.  Project management will evolve to become a more generalist business skill, giving professional project managers an opportunity to add value at a strategic level, and in some instances further their position within an organization. But project management professionals need to broaden their skills and embrace issues of strategy, change management, risk management, stakeholder engagement and agility if they are to realize their organizational goals. 

Tailoring PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations
“The PRINCE2 update is a response to developments in business practice. This latest evolution of the world’s most-practiced project management methodology places greater emphasis on how to tailor PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations and the project environment, and that includes the management of risk and of projects that make up larger programmes. The update again consolidates a wealth of real-life experience gained by the worldwide AXELOS-accredited community. This means it can be trusted to provide practical, authoritative and relevant guidance, enabling anyone with a project to manage to get the best out of PRINCE2 – and to achieve success for themselves and their organization.”

Richard Moret, Chief Executive Officer, Ambition Group, an international consultancy that works with organizations to accelerate business change, commented: “The pace of change in today’s business environment is immense. This means that project managers need to be more strategic, flexible and adaptable so they can effectively respond to the emerging transformation economy - ‘do agile’ and ‘be agile’! But it is not just the project manager that needs to evolve, so does the senior leadership mindset. To truly bring about business transformation and embrace all the benefits of the technology age, senior leaders need to learn how to communicate their strategic vision and objectives with clarity if they are to drive transformation from the top down.”

Changing demands of project management
The update has been prompted by evolutions in business practice over the last decade. It reaffirms the validity of PRINCE2’s approach while responding to the shifting demands of today’s environment – half (50%) of organizations globally, and 80% of PRINCE2-certified Practitioners, acknowledge the value of working in an agile way.

In a survey of 2,400 professionals, 88% of PRINCE2 practitioners said that the qualification had aided their career progression and was valuable in their current role (85%). The survey also found that a wide variety of professionals were applying the methodology, from full-time project managers (32%), IT (18%) and management consultants (15%) to a growing number of C-suite directors (6%)1  The survey shows that project management skills are becoming essential to any professional’s armoury, and this is recognized in the updated PRINCE2 guidance. Flexibility has always been a key factor in the success of PRINCE2, but now the updated method can be further successfully applied by anyone who has a project to manage, regardless of their job title. 

Enhanced emphasis on guidance and examinations
Business professionals familiar with PRINCE2 will notice that the update is characterized by an enhanced emphasis on:

  • tailoring PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations and project environments
  • the principles that underpin the PRINCE2 method
  • clarifying the link between the themes and principles
  • the restructuring of the ‘Themes’ guidance to accommodate specific examples of tailoring
  • the practical application of guidance, with updated diagrams, examples, hints and tips.

Updated PRINCE2 in English
The English version of the updated guidance, Managing Successful Projects will be available in mid-2017, with the English versions of the new Foundation and Practitioner exams launching soon afterwards.

From the launch of the updated exams, and until the end of 2017, candidates may take either the existing or updated English version of any PRINCE2 examination. From January 2018, all Foundation and Practitioner exams in English will be based on the updated version of PRINCE2.

PRINCE2 in additional languages
The rollout schedule for the book/exams in other languages will be announced in late 2017. The versions currently in preparation are: Dutch, German, Polish, French, Danish, Norwegian and Italian.

Current PRINCE2 Practitioner certificates will remain valid until the end of their five-year period and Practitioners will remain eligible to join AXELOS’s PRINCE2 Membership programme.

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