I was driving the other day and the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles came on the radio. It is a classic song and it got me thinking about how technology impacts all occupations. Television and movie actors replaced radio actors. Bloggers are threatening newspaper reporters. Robots are replacing manufacturing/construction employees. Project managers are not safe from technology changing their discipline either.
The tune has changed
In the early years of the project management discipline, project managers were the central role of the project. They would be the one team members would go to with updates and the stakeholders would go to for answers. Technology is changing this.
-Prior to widespread adoption of project management computer programs, project managers would often be the source of information (time lines, cost, etc.) to stakeholders. Now, project stakeholders can often access a program or file to see the status of the project.
-Prior to these same programs, project managers would have to communicate with the project team members to get updates on tasks and issues in order to manage the project. With technology, the team can log onto a system and update their tasks without having to talk to the PM.
These two factors make many companies view project managers as little more than managers of the tool and thus trivialize the role. For this reason, project managers have to demonstrate the value they bring to the project.
Don’t be a backup singer
To overcome this viewpoint of the field of project management, project managers have to demonstrate the value they bring to the project. Project managers are not simply administrators of the project, rather they are leading/managing the project. This distinction needs to be emphasized and demonstrated to managers and companies.
-When it comes to providing project updates to stakeholders, don’t just show the metrics but rather relate the metrics and project to business drivers and outside influences. Knowing that a project is behind schedule, but is still going to finish prior to the true deadline is much more relevant than knowing the project is behind in terms of earned value.
-Team members are now becoming viewed as a more valuable commodity within the project (no longer simple cogs) and this is great for the projects. PMs need to make sure they work for and with the team to facilitate success. Focus on developing the team members within the course of the project and you will be delivering continued value to your firm/clients.
These are just two ways you can help to ensure that your stakeholders and management team continue to view you (and PMs in general) as a valuable commodity that should be respected.
Let your voice be heard
How are you making sure that the role/position of PM does not disappear in your industry or company? Let us know the steps you are following to improve the relevance of the job and reducing the trivialization by technology.