IPMA International Project Management Association
5 February 2018 / 8:39

Competences – an update for the digital era

Digitalization is a trend which influences our life in all regards. Waking up in the morning, we´ll get a full update on what has happened during the night and what we can expect during the following hours. An App provides all information for today, the shortest route to our office considering relevant traffic jams and so on. In our office we´ll analyse the latest customer data, including their preferences, choices and sales numbers through data analytics … and we could go on and on…

It´s quite obvious that digitalization has great influence on our projects as well. Which competences do we need in order to cope with these changes? Firstly, and certainly most important we need to develop competences dealing with digitalization, utilizing digital tools and applications, understanding the potentials as well as the threats. A project manager may use social media to search for competent team members or contractors for a virtual project. Another competence is data analytics. We have an increasingly big amount of data available (“big data”), which we can make available for decision making. Analyzing data of our customers, for example their preferences, questions, sales or complaints allows us to take more information into account while developing new products and services. A project manager needs to utilize available data, analyse it statistically with available skills, methods and tools, for a better understanding of stakeholder interests. It may support also the forecast or anticipation of trends and future developments.

The more information are available, the faster the change of customer requirements, the  shorter the lead times of product or service development and the more interaction between all stakeholders involved. Agile project management, change management competence and short learning cycles are necessary for project managers. Critical reflections of the work performed, self-organisation and a participatory leadership style are needed. Project managers as well as all employees need to be virtuoso, switch roles and responsibilities from one instance to the other. Reflection, feedback and dynamic learning processes are key, collaboratively with others, exchanging experiences as well as know-how. Thus, the competence for collaboration and stakeholder engagement will become a core competence for every project manager. The project manager does not solely focus on the project, but increasingly on the context, relevant stakeholders and how these stakeholders can be involved. The management competence will be less important, increasingly we need to influence the project through interventions, shaping the context in a favourable way, making stakeholders engage and support the project.

There is no reason to be scared. The evolution of project management will continue. Try to take part in the journey, try new things, interact and learn from the young people as they are more keen to utilize the tools available through digitalization.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 35 years in the field of project-related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Automotive, Engineering, and Consultancy, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, a leading PM Consultancy in Munich/Germany, he supports executives of industrial clients in transforming their companies towards a project-oriented, adaptive and sustainably successful organization. Reinhard Wagner has published 36 books as well as several hundred articles and blog posts in the field of project, program and project portfolio management. In more than 20 years of voluntary engagement he served the German Project Management Association (GPM) as well as the IPMA in various roles and was granted for his international commitment with the Honorary Membership of several IPMA Member Associations.

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