We could define professional project management as “the discipline to turn ideas into reality”. A professional project manager would be the person in charge of getting this transformation successfully done, by meeting the goals and delivering the value.

Project Management is the discipline to turn ideas into reality.

Why a specialized discipline?

Turning ideas into reality is as old as human beings. Quoting Dr. Steven R. Covey: “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things”.

All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things. –Stephen R. Covey

We normally use the word “project” to name the set of tasks to be done by a single person individually or by several people as a team. Anyone can report the project progress while it is still open. Once the project is closed, anybody can tell if the result is good or bad, on time, on budget, and business requirements have been met and value has been delivered. We could say that anyone, with any training or background, would know how to manage a project. Why is a specialized discipline needed?

Today, most jobs are becoming more and more challenging. We live in a reality that is interdependent, collaborative and enhanced by technology, but at the same time increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Companies realize that projects can make the big difference.

To stay ahead of the competition, projects make the difference.

They face such tough competition that it is no longer enough to do operations well. They have to do more projects better, and this implies to engage people to make timely informed decisions.

Project manager professional is a profession with future

Companies are getting “projectified”. Senior managers are engaged more and more into projects. Project governance, tools and techniques are tailored in every organization. Consequently, professionals project managers are on the rise.

In The Project EconomyPMOs have to do more with less resources. Organizations need portfolio managers accountable for portfolios, program managers accountable for programs, and at the lowest management level, working to turn ideas into reality, they need project managers accountable for projects. Complexity is increased when several business units collaborate on projects, work packages are outsourced, or different companies form a joint venture to execute a megaproject.

The good news is that there are standardized knowledge bodies to manage projects, programs, and portfolios professionally. These standards, guides and methodologies are published not only by the PMI, but also by other global organizations such as IPMAEuropean CommissionUK’s OGCInter-American Development Bank, etc.

The bad news is that we are still using technology from the last century, or even worse, we manage projects by face-to-face meetings and documentation. In order to effectively turn ideas into reality in the project economy, we need more people collaboration on projects, enhanced by technology.

Project Management Professional demands people collaboration enhanced by technology.

How to turn ideas into reality

Ideas can be turned into reality in many ways. Let’s discuss a simple classification according to the people involved and the context:

  1. Individuals can turn their ideas into reality through solo projects. A solo project could be, for example, preparing for an exam, learning a language, running the first marathon, writing a book, etc. In my work environment, I can plan, execute and control my professional goals as solo projects, some examples being: carrying out a research, building my personal brand, increasing my sales, etc.
  2. Projects can take place within a self-organized team, for instance: organizing a trip or vacation, volunteering projects, a wedding, etc. In the professional field, we have examples of business projects with self-organized teams when several entrepreneurs come together to create a business, build an application, etc.
  3. In the cases above, professional project management is not usually appreciated. However, the requirements are different when it comes to projects within an organization since there are usually more stakeholders to engage. Some stakeholders must provide the requirements. Others must be reported about progress. Others should accept the products delivered, the services implemented, or the final results. Organizations tend to execute many projects at the same time, which can be grouped within business units, in charge of functional managers. Additionally, many projects have to be executed cohesively, within the scope of a program managed by a program manager, or they are components of a strategic plan managed as a portfolio by a portfolio manager.
  4. Finally, we have a higher level of complexity, which corresponds to what we call The Project Economy: different business units of the same organization (or different organizations) collaborating on joint projects, with many people collaborating under different roles in different teams, business units, programs, portfolios, or organizations.

Let us see in some detail how projects are executed in each case to understand why technology is so needed in the project economy.

1) Turning ideas into reality as an individual

The simplest way to represent a solo project consists of a series of tasks –the points in the image– more or less organized, carried out by a single person day after day, until all the requirements are met:

People working solo are free to plan and execute their projects in creative ways. They usually combine their projects with other activities. They also face some typical issues as multitasking, procrastination, Parkinson’s law, student syndrome, etc. There are methodological frameworks –GTD7 habits, etc.– that help us to be effective in achieving our personal goals. These frameworks demand high discipline to incorporate certain habits, though.

2) Turning ideas into reality in a self-organizing team

Most worthwhile projects are not done individually anymore, but as a team. When people belong to a cohesive synergetic team, the results are quite better than the sum of the parts. There are excellent freemium tools to work effectively as a team, avoiding face-to-face meetings with video conferencing tools like Zoom, getting our files in the cloud with tools like Google Drive, our conversations to the cloud with tools like Slack, and our tasks to the cloud with tools like Asana.

The result of a project by a self-organized team is uncertain, though: it can be as spectacular as Apple, or as disappointing as the 70-90% of start-ups that do not exceed their third year of life. There are effective methodological frameworks to manage self-organizing teams, such as Lean startup, Scrum and holacracy. However, since most tasks require highly demanding technical expertise, only a little effort is devoted to management.

3) Turning ideas into reality in an organization

In the two cases above, the need for a specialist profile in project management is low. However, when the project is developed within an organization, there are more people whose engagement is crucial for the project success. There is a need to “govern” the project in its different phases. There are other differentiated roles that do not execute tasks, but rather control or monitor the performance of the project: Stakeholders (SH), Sponsor (SP), Program Manager (PgM), Portfolio Manager (PfM), Project Management Office (PMO), Functional Manager (FM), etc.

There is a new layer between governance and the real work, focused on project management. Here the project manager reports how the project is doing, in periodic review meetings to anticipate problems, measuring performance and taking corrective actions to get the project back on track. Traditionally, project monitoring was performed only at face-to-face meetings, by reviewing documents previously submitted by the project manager.

Today, technology can facilitate project management online. On the other hand, project work information for monitoring can be progressively elaborated by the management team, as the relevant events occur, facilitating the engagement of an unlimited number of stakeholders, who can instantly check the status of the projects they monitor, making comments, giving feedback, requesting changes, etc.

4) Turning ideas into reality in The Project Economy

In The Project Economy there are more projects and more people collaborating under different roles in one or more teams, business units, programs, portfolios, or organizations. Nowadays, technology enables professional project collaboration among business units within the same organizations– or from different organizations.

With PMPeople, projects are accessible in the cloud. Using their computers, tablets or mobile telephones, people can use differentiated roles to get access to multiple projects, of multiple business units, of multiple organizations. PMPeople stands for “people collaborating on project management”. It is a pure freemium project portfolio management product competing with other PPM tools such as Microsoft Project ServerSciformaClaritySAP PPMPlanviewProjectManager.comSmartSheet, etc. All these are not free, they are not designed as mobile applications, and they do not integrate easily with other products. PMPeople can be used for free forever and, in premium mode, only managers count for payment (stakeholders and team members do not count). PMPeople is integrated with task management tools like AsanaJiraWrikeBasecampMondayClickUPTrello, etc. We are also integrated with scheduling tools like PrimaveraMicrosoft ProjectProjectLibre, etc.

PMPeople helps organizations in the project economy start implementing their digital transformation effectively. Projects are managed professionally by people collaborating online using different roles. Upgrading to premium does not mean to pay for all users, but only those who actually manage projects. That is, many users do not count as premium seats, if they only use the following roles: stakeholder, team member, resource manager or sponsor. Users are counted as premium seats if they use one of the following roles: Requester, PMO, PMO (supportive), Portfolio Manager, Program Manager, Project Manager, or Functional Manager.

PMPeople’s mission is to help project professionals to manage projects collaborative, anytime, anywhere. With PMPeople, people can collaborate professionally to turn ideas into reality.

PMPeople is the tool for the project economy. It is aimed to unify professional project management by these differential points:

  • Designed by and for professional project managers, following professional project management standards.
  • Online productivity –less meetings, less documents, less workflows– through distributed collaboration among 12 specialized roles: Organization Owner, 6 roles on demand management and 5 roles on supply management.
  • Freemium product –unlimited time, unlimited users– usable via web and mobile application.

Start using PMPeople for free, for unlimited time and for any number of users. In premium organizations, only managers have a cost. Several roles –stakeholders, team members, sponsors and resource managers– are always free. You can increase or decrease your premium seats according to the organization actual needs. Premium organizations have access to our interactive support through Slack. Our servers are located in EU. This software can also be hosted on customer premises.

Read this article in Spanish.