Today, we’re looking at Technology Quotient (TQ) in project management. No, that’s not a typo. It’s not IQ or EQ.
TQ stands for Technology Quotient. It relates to how capable a person is at adapting, managing and integrating technology based on the project’s or business’ needs. As a term, it’s been around a while, but it’s certainly being talked about more in project management circles now as a result of PMI flagging up the importance of tech in a wide variety of project-related roles.
PMI has taken the concept of Technology Quotient a step further in their report into the future of work. They talk about PMTQ: project management blended with technical ability.
The report’s authors write: “For anyone charged with making strategy reality in a world constantly being remodeled by tech, PMTQ will be the must-have, make-or-break skill set.”
The hybrid PM and tech skillset is much in demand and we can see why. Young people know the ‘job for life’ career no longer exists and are looking for opportunities that will help them build skills for a portfolio career – holding a range of roles using different skills, perhaps all loosely held together by some kind of career theme.
Coupled with that, we have more and more knowledge work being delivered as projects. Together, these shifts are driving the requirement for individuals to know how to manage projects and also operate in highly technical environments with lots of data.
So what does PMTQ look like?
The characteristics of PMTQ
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report into PMTQ says that it is defined by three key characteristics:
- Inclusive leadership
- Future-proofing talent
Let’s look at each of those.
Project professionals across the PMO and delivery teams need to stay curious. It’s important to continually be on the lookout for what might be coming next, whether that’s a shift in strategy, an opportunity to try a new way of delivering projects, new tools or a new way of looking at the current portfolio.
Having said that, we believe there is a balance to be had between embracing the new and chasing fads. You don’t need to move to hybrid project management simply because it feels like everyone else is. You don’t need to ditch your tried-and-tested enterprise tools for the next big thing in the cloud – make smart choices for what will work for you.
PMO leaders should adopt an inclusive stance: allyship across a diverse population, because the PMO serves a diverse population.
PMTQ influences your approach to leadership because it’s important to make sure digital solutions are as inclusive as your efforts away from the screen. For example, make sure you are building digital skills in the whole team, without picking who benefits from training. Don’t assume the youngest on the team will help train everyone or will pick up the tool more quickly than others.
Equally, look at the solutions you are delivering. They should be truly inclusive, so build accessibility into the tech options you are rolling out across your teams and demand the same from vendors.
You might not have got into the PMO to manage a technical team, but everyone needs some degree of technical knowledge these days. You’re managing a team who work with technology and who have to act as champions for the technical solutions used by the PMO and the wider business.
Finally, PMTQ is characterized by a mindset of recruiting and retaining people who have relevant skills. We’d add that you can build these skills within your existing talent pool: you don’t always need to hire in people with digital expertise. If you are looking to augment your project management team, you might find it easier to get a contractor in with certain hard-to-find skills and carry out a knowledge transfer exercise to upskill your internal team.
What this means for your PMO
Leveling up your tools can make a huge difference to the efficiency of the way teams interact with project data. Smart resourcing tools, educational platforms to support professional development – it’s all out there.
Despite so many people having smart phones, you’ll still find some individuals struggle with adopting new tech more than others. Some of those people might be your executive sponsors. For every exec who gets out their iPad as the board meeting begins, there will be another who prefers not to engage! As tech plays such an important part of how we deliver and communicate about projects, the PMO can fill the role of education and training partner to support the business with its digital transformation.
Make sure there is adequate change management and engagement effort put into embedding any new tools, so that everyone can use them. PMI calls this ‘building digital fluency’. Digital skills include analytics, data security, governance and regulatory compliance, and being able to interpret data to make data-driven decisions.
Think about how you can formalize the knowledge transfer process so it is easier to share organizational learning between team members. That might mean rethinking career paths or training needs so that you are building relevant skills across the team – and maybe even building skills for roles that don’t yet exist.
It’s no longer enough to invest in the latest tools, data analytics and systems to support strategic delivery and project management across the business. We also need to invest in the people who will be using and interpreting the output of those systems so they can create a culture of innovation and agile thinking.
What will this mean for your PMO? We can’t wait to find out!