You would think, with so many new tools and technologies available in the project management field, that things would be improving. But, as the world becomes more fast paced and the need for good project management increases, there’s growing evidence that things are headed in the opposite direction. 

Companies start, scale, and grow so quickly, there’s less time than ever to focus on good project management practices. So often, companies settle for good enough, or even, none at all. 

A Decade in the Making 

You might think that the decline in project management focus is a new phenomenon. But it’s been building for at least a decade. 

Even if you only consider project managers as a percentage of overall employee teams, there’s been a measurable decline since at least 2014. Could it be that the growth in DIY project management tools has driven the idea that managing projects is easy? Or are we just so focused on doing things as quickly as possible that we don’t pay attention to the quality of the product? 

Whatever the reason for the deterioration in project management across all industries and organisations, there’s no denying it’s happening. 

Reduced In-Service Training 

One of the trends in the project management field is for recent graduates to expect to advance through the ranks quickly. Where it once took as much as ten years of experience in a professional capacity, after studies, new project managers now expect to reach senior roles within half that time or less. 

While formal training definitely has a role in the project management field, it’s not a substitute for hands on practical experience. So, by rapidly accelerating employees to senior roles, companies are limiting the time they have to get valuable, in-person, on-the-job training. 

Over Reliance on Technology 

We can all agree that technology offers fantastic tools to enhance and expand capabilities and capacity across all industries and roles, and project management is no different. However, there’s a trend in many professions to become too reliant on that technology. Core skills are lost, and some of the checks and balances that used to be built into the process have fallen away. 

Reasons for Choosing Project Management 

Another big factor that might be leading to the decline in PM efficiency and value to organisations is that many people are no longer basing their career choice on their passions. Earning potential has always been a factor in education and career choice. 

But these should never be the only considerations. Truly robust, agile project management is always rooted in a passion for optimising delivery. People who get excited about doing things efficiently, monitoring projects and solving problems always do better than those who just go through the motions. 

Lack of Standardisation 

Another big problem for effective project management today is that many companies grow so quickly, there’s no time to create standardised processes and procedures. While agility and the ability to be nimble and embrace change and transformation are all valuable, those things should always be related to a baseline. 

When there are several project managers in an organisation that are all working to different processes and with different goals and measurable performance goals, it’s almost impossible do deliver the best results – or even to know when you do! 

Recruitment Knowledge Gaps 

Many companies try to build better project management into their organisations by hiring project managers. But often, the people doing the recruiting don’t have any project management knowledge. So instead of looking for candidates with the best skills and experience, they’re checking qualification boxes and looking for employees who meet budget requirements. 

One way to work around this problem is to have senior project managers involved in the process, but very few organisations choose to tap this resource. 

Too Little Input 

Perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in project management lately is that too few project managers are in decision making roles. We all like to think that project management is a standalone department, but the truth is, good (and bad) project management practices permeate every level of every organisation. Companies that embrace good project management are well oiled, agile machines that can tackle every challenge. Those that don’t spend far too much time putting out fires and dealing with crises. 

Project management isn’t only something you do. It’s something that touches every part of every process. When it works well, everything else does too. So, if you’re not already building project management principles, processes, and procedures into everything you do, it might be time to start. 

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If you’d like to engage Fatimah as a coach/advisor for your organisation to help you make sense of the chaos, then you can reach out to her by email at Fatimah.a@agilemanagementoffice.com