A new report from PMI highlights the top six digital skills that are needed for project delivery – and they are all things that a PMO can and should be supporting.
The Project Manager of the Future: Developing Digital-Age Project Management Skills to Thrive In Disruptive Times (2018), is a study commissioned by PMI and conducted by Forrester Consulting. It involved surveying nearly 500 human resources managers from mid-to-large sized organizations who support project teams, as well as over 520 project leaders from countries around the world. Digital skills was featured under essentials competencies.
Here’s more about the six digital skills they pulled out as the essential competencies for project delivery in a digital age.
1. Data Science Skills
The first digital skill identified is data science. Data science is an umbrella term that describes data management, analytics and big data. Being able to work with and understand large data sets helps project leaders make the best decisions. Your organization might have a Business Intelligence or Management Information team, made up of analysts who crunch large amounts of data through database tools to produce reports. While that detailed analytics and understanding of business data is still needed, we also need people in other roles to take on some of the skills of a data analyst.
How the PMO can help: The PMO has access to huge amounts of organizational knowledge. Specifically, tools like Adrega PI are able to play back data from projects in an intelligent way. When you can aggregate information across multiple projects, you can spot trends and take action in a way that supports business goals. Using software makes it easier for the less data-minded people in the team to get the same benefit from the data. The easier you can make it for people to understand the information available to them, the better the decision making will be.
2. Innovative Mindset
It’s not a surprise that innovative thinking makes the list. Today, project teams are being asked to do more with less, and to deliver more creative solutions in a more creative way. Being able to adapt to new technologies and make the most of opportunities is important.
How the PMO can help: PMOs can support innovation by ensuring that there is a good mix of projects within the portfolio. The types of projects and the number of each should align to the organization’s risk appetite. However, even very risk averse businesses can afford to have a couple of innovative projects on the go at any time.
3. Security and Privacy Knowledge
The advent of GDPR in Europe during May 2018 put data security and privacy to the top of the agenda for many project teams. At the time of writing, it’s expected that other countries will follow suit and implement more robust privacy legislation for the digital age.
Consumers are more conscious of the data risk that online interaction presents. They expect – and deserve – to have their data protected.
How the PMO can help: The PMO can set guidelines for project delivery that include data security approaches. For example, you can mandate that project teams deliver in line with organization data protection policies. You can also make data protection impact assessments a standard part of every business case or project proposal. Work with the IT and Legal teams, along with the data protection office for the company (if you have one). Then you can ensure that your project management processes meet the required standards for security and privacy.
4. Legal and Regulatory Complacence Knowledge
It’s not just data protection legislation that influences how projects are done. Project teams need to be aware of HIPAA/HITECH, Federal Acquisition Regulations, environmental regulations, anti-trust laws and more. Everything down to the local tax code and labor laws can impact how you manage your project.
How can the PMO help? Project teams need a lot of support in this area. They aren’t usually staffed by people with a deep knowledge of the law and how it affects project delivery. The PMO can become a trusted source of information and a conduit between project teams and the Legal team. Build up a set of internal standards and guidelines for managing projects within the law. Hold regular training sessions to increase awareness of key pieces of regulation affecting your industry.
5. Ability to Make Data-Driven Decisions
The ability to make data-driven decisions has always been important for project managers. Now we have access to more data, it’s even more important that data can be synthesized and turned into something useful. Information that helps move a project forward in a timely way.
How the PMO can help: The PMO is the custodian of a range of tools that support data-driven decision making. For example:
- Adrega PI can surface project intelligence, enabling easy access to large data sets through intuitive and informative dashboards
- Earned Value Management systems use data to track project progress and spot performance trends early
- Risk management tools like Deltek Acumen Risk and Full Monte. Both are schedule risk analysis tools, use data sets and sensitivity analysis to present information on the uncertainty associated with task and project delivery.
6. Collaborative Leadership Skills
Again, collaboration has always been important for project managers, many of whom work in teams where they are not directly in charge of the resources. Building up “soft” power and leading matrix teams is something project managers have had to do for some time.
However, virtual teams, cross-functional working and outsourcing make collaborating harder to do. When you aren’t in the same room as your colleagues, you have to work harder to involve them in a collaborative way. This is really all about mindset and recruiting people who are open to working together, sharing what they know and are happy to ask for help when they need it.
How the PMO can help: The PMO can introduce collaborative platforms and work management tools that sit alongside the way project teams do their tasks. As the PMO team is also often responsible for training and mentoring, they can also take the lead on developing those digital skills within the team. Coaching and researching suitable external training courses are also ways that the PMO can support collaborative leadership.
Finally, digital skills can help the PMO set an example for others in the business and be collaborative! The PMO should be the hub that draws together multiple teams for the good of the organization overall, delivering projects that support the strategic goals. If that isn’t an example of collaborative leadership, we’re not sure what is.