The future of project skills in the Asia-Pacific
In the last few years, in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, demand for project delivery has escalated as organisations realise that just to keep pace with competition means continual invention, transformation and updating, which can be equally applied to products, infrastructure, service lines and organisations. Underpinning them all will be the need to establish, execute and deliver a project or set of projects.
The question is whether the skills to do so successfully exist in your organisation today. If they do not, then there is a real risk that you will not be able to deliver either to the timeframes required or against the benefits that have been promised in a business case. The maturity level of the skills is also important to understand, along with how this maturity sits within the market and the region.
Only 10 years ago, the IT world frightened the daylights out of organisations with the Y2K bug, which had the potential to cause indescribable havoc without investment in largescale insurance projects. Once organisations had thanked the IT departments from saving them, they reduced IT and project spend en masse. As the early 2000s rolled on, there was a gradual increase in activity such that by 2005, business was back running on all cylinders, but the project delivery landscape had gradually changed shape with the growing recognition that it took more than a solid IT applications team to provide real business improvement.
Communications became a key deliverable as stakeholder management grew as a must-have on any decent project plan. Stakeholders were identified as anyone impacted by the project, thus communications reached beyond the walls of the organisation and into the customer world. HR departments would consequently hire or redeploy specialists to support project initiatives.
If a project touched the fabric of the business, organisational change specialists would need to be engaged to deftly handle the changes and ensure that business-as-usual operations could continue until the project had been delivered, and then support the revised landscape. HR or change departments would consequently hire or redeploy specialists to support the project initiatives.
Frequently, businesses would look to external suppliers for all or part of the delivery of projects and, as this occurred more and more frequently, divisions were established to control purchasing activities and to extract the best possible price and service proposition. Once engaged, it was then mandated that the experts handled the negotiations and the ongoing delivery management. Procurement or vendor management departments would consequently have specialists in these areas to support the project initiatives.
Over time, a host of functions previously part of the project manager’s domain, were now ‘in-sourced’ to various departments. The project manager became a stakeholder manager, while others gained the subject matter knowledge and experience.