“Projects and programs are the core of any organization’s strategic initiatives—they are how change happens. Having the talent to implement those initiatives successfully is the critical capability that gives organizations a competitive advantage to navigate through necessary change.” – PMI®’s Pulse of the Profession, 9th Global Annual Project Management Survey
Effective execution of strategic goals and supporting tactical objectives is essential to maintain and expand a competitive advantage. However, most senior leaders acknowledge that their organizations struggle to bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Projects, completed by mission-driven teams, represent the primary vehicle for putting the strategic agenda into action. Therefore, having the talent base to implement successful strategic projects is the secret sauce that gives organizations an edge.
What skills do project managers need today?
Teams today are fluid and dynamic. A team member may be asked to step into a formal project manager (PM) or project leadership role at any time. As a result, we are experiencing a significant change in the competencies required by both the project leader and all team members to implement an organization’s business agenda. PMs must also be knowledgeable in many digital technologies, in addition to methodologies such as agile and design thinking, and concepts such as lean product management.
Why project management is changing
However, many organizations lack a formal process for developing project manager competencies. To ensure your project managers possess the necessary skills and capabilities to deliver on your strategic agenda, project managers and all members of a project team must have access to the relevant learning and development resources.
How to design the essential project manager development program
Fortunately, addressing this imperative is not challenging given the wealth of resources available. The tricky part is ensuring that the development plan created addresses all the critical needs of the project teams in your organization. A holistic approach is best as it brings together the right set of comprehensive development solutions and the complete range of learning opportunities project managers and their teams require.
There are seven critical components to a project management development plan for the digital age.
- Project management skills and certification
While not all project managers will need or require certification, they will still need to have some core project management knowledge and an understanding of the pivotal phases of a project. For those whose jobs require certification, the learning offered needs to prepare learners for exams such as the Project Management Professional (PMP)® and the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® from the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the PRINCE2 ®, ITIL ®, MSP ® from Axelos.
- Certification maintenance and skills expansion
Once certified, project managers will still want the learning opportunities that allow them to continue their professional development and maintain their certifications. The program must provide learning opportunities that align with the regulatory agencies and enable users to earn the professional development units (PDUs) required for certificate maintenance.
- Agility and innovation
Possessing the skills of agility and innovation are critical to effective project leadership. Managers need access to development resources to enhance these skills. Topics such as developing an agile mindset and innovating with lean product management are just two examples of the type of material a learning program needs to include.
- Collaboration and team building
The ability of teams to successfully execute requires each member to buy into the importance of a highly functional unit and to perform as a productive team member. Therefore, each member must have the necessary skills to optimize their performance with relevant development content that covers topics like being accountable and dealing with conflict.
- Personal development and communications
Underlying all the targeted skills necessary for successful team performance are the innate core professional abilities of each member, essential capabilities that lead to successful individual performance and team execution. Promoting such skills means all team members must have access to development resources on topics such as problem-solving, decision making and critical thinking.
- Leadership, strategy and business skills
While each team member needs to possess specific capabilities, leaders are required to master an additional range of competencies including developing people, setting and managing priorities and managing through change.
- Business execution
It all comes back to growing the bottom line and ensuring the future success of the organization. Organizations want to see results and it falls to the leaders of an organization to make this happen. They need development resources and learning opportunities on topics such as leading innovation, leading change and leading through a shared vision.
Skillsoft enjoys a long history of training effective project leaders and teams. Our Project Management Solution aligns directly to the needs of project managers at all levels. We are a Chartered Global Registered education provider with PMI. Our professional development units (PDU) catalog addresses all of the requirements of PMI’s Talent Triangle covering its Technical, Business Strategy, and Leadership competencies.
Want to learn directly from a customer using our project management learning solution? Read how New Look, a global fashion retailer, is getting high-quality training with an even higher exam pass rate for certifications such as PRINCE2 ® and PMI Agile ® using Skillsoft’s project management content. Or watch this short video about the role of the PMBOK® Guide in project management today.
Heide Abelli is the SVP of Content Product Management at Skillsoft.