Next generation Project Management – understanding the realities


RA125491(2)By Anita Potgieter, COO, FOXit.

One of the major hurdles companies face in being able to extract the maximum value from their project management infrastructure and strategies is perception – or, in fact, misperception of project management in practice. It is time to debunk inaccurate theories and expose myths.

The first of these is that only large companies can afford Project Management software. That may have been the case a few years ago, it certainly is not the case now. Today, small and medium sized enterprises can afford to invest.

In the past larger enterprises had to invest hugely in server farms, server licenses and then still pay for each of their employees to use software.

The trend shifted to cloud based solutions a couple of years ago, but the change didn’t stop there.

The “Microsofts of the world” are now hosting their own solutions, which make it cost effective to use and there is no longer the need to have strong infrastructure in order to run project management solutions.

Environments are almost instantaneously provisioned. For an SME the advantage is that there is no real need for an implementation partner – unless there is a requirement for the environment to be configured to suit business needs. If the situation allows for the infrastructure to be used as is until decision makers have sorted out configuration, it will save a lot of money.

Project management roles are changing within companies. These shifts should be not only in the maturity of project managers and the way they conduct their profession on a day-to-day basis, but also in every single function they fulfil.

A second myth is the notion that technology is not important.

The fact is that technology modifications require quick adoption and projects can hardly be planned on the back of a cigarette box anymore.  Project managers today need to be proficient in using technology and it cannot be left to young professionals alone to take advantage of this resource. The need for collaboration will force “the old school” employees to stay with-it.

The demand to manage portfolios instead of just managing stand-alone projects is also on the rise and technology has finally started to catch up.  Third party service providers should, for the foreseeable future, still form part of this booming industry.

A popular myth surrounding project management is that methodologies should stay put.

In today’s fast-paced world, bulky methodologies will not make the cut for businesses to remain agile. Documenting for the sake of having documentation can be seen as waste and only the most critical processes needs to be on black-and-white.


In certain cases it is required that every step of every single process needs to be followed to ensure proven governance, but in other cases companies need to either adapt or die.

The idea that anyone can manage a project team is simply not true.  Although project management skills can be acquired quite easily, additional skill sets are required to effectively manage a project team.  According to Google there are many additional skills that next-generation project managers need to possess, but the following are those that are the most important:

Emotional Intelligence

Screaming, shouting and cursing your team will not motivate them to deliver on time, on budget, within scope and to the set quality.  Without emotional intelligence one cannot build successful stakeholder relationships, deal with difficult team members, manage conflict or avoid emotional breakdowns.

Collaborative Communication

Collaborative Communication is the ability to adapt the way you communicate to suit the audience in a matter that brings cooperation to the table.  Communication stretches further than just speaking.  Because social media continues to be on the rise, the profession will, in time, rely less on direct face-to-face meetings. As a project manager you need to have skills to effectively lead phone meetings/conference calls.  As companies grow, these interactions will also stretch to other countries and this requires the ability to deal with other cultures, languages and mannerisms. 


The project manager has to be flexible and be able to change tactics/methods in response to business needs.

Business Understanding

This is essentially the ability to comprehend the strategy of the company and ensure alignment in the execution of projects.


Analytical Skills

The project manager needs to be able to analyse obstacles and find appropriate ways for dealing with it.

Ethical behaviour

The project manager should have a strong moral and ethical character and the ability to instil trust within the team.