Project Management and Collaboration

Why Every Employee Needs to be a Project Manager

The world of project management is in transition. Traditionally, project managers (PMs) have sat at the core of an organisation, within its ‘command-and-control’ management structure. This approach has been pervasive throughout most industries and organisations, but it’s increasingly of concern that in the modern business environment it can actually limit flexibility, stifle innovation and reduce the ability to respond rapidly to market forces.

With the true cost of the global recession still being counted, but estimated to be at least $45,000 per person in the US alone, sweeping changes within the economic landscape over the past decade have changed business requirements. As a result, senior management is increasingly forced to demand more from their employees in terms of time, outputs and responsibilities with fewer resources to hand. According to the PwC 15th Annual Global CEO Survey, “CEOs in industries in the throes of disruptive change require radical innovation; if businesses cannot quickly create new products or services that customers will buy, they will not survive”. 

As such, business stakeholders can no longer tolerate slow processes; in effect all employees are now required to act and think as PMs.

Embedding project management skills at every level

In this new system, every member of an organisation needs to be effective and possess the tools and skills necessary to deliver projects on time. For example, in organisations where IT bureaucracy is too slow, it's now not uncommon to see business units taking the initiative to build and deploy their own apps.

Over the next decade, project management will become a key skill for every employee, with the PM role itself evolving into one of greater leadership, working with senior executives to lead this change. As they are closer to the work, employees within all functional groups will be given the reins to run their own projects. As such, there will be far less of a need for dedicated, trained professionals within what we currently view as the project management discipline.

All employees, at every level, will be expected to demonstrate non-technical, soft managerial skills such as the ability to organise and facilitate change. As well as needing the technical skills to work within their specific function, demand will also be high for prospective candidates and employees to also be able to demonstrate these soft abilities. Technical ability will be equally as important as the ability to manage and successfully deliver a project.

However, according to Gartner, 42% of CIOs do not believe their organisation has the people and skills needed to succeed in the future. This is a worryingly high proportion of businesses, and a warning sign that all organisations need to empower employees by equipping them with the tools and skills to enable them to manage projects.

Preparing your workforce for decentralised project management

For efficient and effective work management, it is critical that teams assess their current approach to enterprise work management. Work is chaotic; floods of incoming requests, poor planning, unclear goals and breakdowns in communication lead to missed deadlines, failed projects and poor productivity. To empower every employee to think and act like a PM requires the unification of all work, processes, data and communication.

Organisations must identify bottlenecks and break down barriers to enable workers to communicate, collaborate, assign tasks, proof documents, and report progress all in one place. Full visibility into the status of work and the location of data and resources is also essential. Everyone within a department, from executives to managers and work specialists, must use and have access to the same underlying data and processes.

The end result will be executives who can better plan and justify resources, managers who have the knowledge they need to align and prioritise work according to the enterprise’s strategic goals as well as the visibility into work processes to spot and correct inefficiencies, and employees who can work in a manner that is the most productive and innovative.

The tipping point is here, and the time has come for organisations to reflect on the effectiveness of their current approach to project management. As the current business landscape continues to evolve, organisations will be forced to place responsibility for project ownership at the operational level and must enable employees to effectively manage these. The productivity gains made as a result will ultimately propel the market leaders of tomorrow. 


Eric Morgan is CEO of AtTask


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