BY KEVIN ALLEN
As demand for project managers grows, organizations face an increasingly pressing problem: finding good practitioners in a competitive market. By 2020, seven project-intensive industries are expected to add 15.7 million new project management roles, according to PMI's Project Management Talent Gap Report, published in March.
To fulfill the rising need for qualified project managers, companies will likely foster talent from within. More than two-thirds of CEOs at global companies plan to develop and promote most of their workforce from inside their own organizations over the next three years, according to a recent PwC survey.
Organizations that have a formalized training program for project managers average project success rates of 68 percent, compared with 61 percent for organizations that do not, according to PMI's Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Study: Talent Management.
“It's good to have a career path in order for roles and responsibilities to be well aligned across the company,” says Antonio Olivan, PMP, senior project manager at IT company Atos International, Madrid, Spain.
Establishing a unified framework of roles and responsibilities, however, can pose significant organizational challenges. To create a career path that will cultivate success, organizations need to build from the ground up.
By 2020, seven project–intensive industries are expected to add
new project management roles.
Source: Project Management Talent Gap Report, PMI, 2013
Each organization must tailor its career path to its specific needs. For instance, the title of project manager may be given to an entry–level employee at some organizations. Meanwhile, other companies require employees to have several years of experience before they earn the title of project manager.
Organizations should clearly define each rung on the project management career ladder and link specific requirements to advancement, suggests Sylvester Johnson, PMP, PgMP, senior business and project management executive at NetSoft Integrations, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
Mr. Johnson uses PMI's Organization Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) to begin this process. By gauging the organization's maturity—its project management approach, methodology, strategy and processes—his team can assess whether a defined career path already exists. “Some organizations just call people project managers because they think it's a nice buzzword,” he says, noting that job functions often stray from standard roles and responsibilities.
Organizations that have a formalized training program for project managers average project success rates of
compared with 61 percent for organizations that do not.
Source: Pulse of the ProfessionTM In–Depth Study: Talent Management, PMI
With the maturity assessment complete, Mr. Johnson then looks to an organization's strategy to determine what positions its career path might need.
Clearly define each rung on the project management career ladder and link specific requirements to advancement.
—Sylvester Johnson, PMP, PgMP, NetSoft Integrations, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
CARVING THE PATH
Bob Morin, PMP, PgMP, deputy project management office manager for National Security Technologies in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, calls himself a “big believer” in establishing defined positions and responsibilities along a project management career path.
In his previous position as PMO manager at FMC Technologies in Houston, Texas, USA, there were 12 project practitioners, “managing their projects 12 different ways,” he says. “Some were called project managers, some were called project coordinators, and everybody did their own thing. Management saw their workload increasing dramatically, and they thought it was going to continue. They wanted to become much more efficient in how they did their work.”
The first thing Mr. Morin did was plot a path to develop a PMO in order to get the group into what he calls “continuous improvement mode.” Based on the needs of the organization at the time and the skills of the individual project managers, Mr. Morin divided the group in the following manner:
- Project administrators served in administrative roles
- Project coordinators were divided between junior and senior levels, whose responsibilities were mainly day–to–day project management
- Four levels of project manager (labeled level 1, 2, 3 and 4 PM) had similar roles but were distinguished by several criteria, including knowledge, skills and experience
- There were two levels of program manager: program manager and senior program manager
of CEOs at global companies plan to develop and promote most of their workforce from inside their own organizations over the next three years.
“If I have five people who want to get promoted from PM2 to a PM3 level and I've only got room to promote two, I can pull out the assessment sheets and find out who has holes.”
–Bob Morin, PMP, PgMP,National Security Technologies, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Employees were given knowledge and experience checklists during their semi-annual reviews that showed where they were on the career path, and the knowledge, skills and experience needed to bump them up to the next level.
Mr. Morin says this model strips much of the subjectivity from the promotion process. “If I have five people who want to get promoted from PM2 to a PM3 level and I've only got room to promote two, I can pull out the assessment sheets and find out who has holes,” he says.
Once the career path is in place, the organization then has to begin moving team members along it. During his five years at Harman International, a global audio systems company, Mr. Johnson established a project management leadership development program to build a talent pipeline. Working out of the enterprise project portfolio management office, his team performed an internal assessment to determine the company's awareness and maturity level, then established criteria for the development program.
“You can't bring everybody in,” Mr. Johnson says. “To determine who's going to participate in this type of program, you have to build an alliance with human resources. They're the ones who really understand the talent behind the resource.”
Find Your Own Way
While organizations support career development, project managers must identify their own goals and passions if they want to move ahead. With a clear vision in mind, seek out companies with career-development infrastructure and culture, says Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP, director of program management and PMO for PMI Global Executive Council member Ericsson in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After taking a project management introduction course early in his career, Mr. Dias was certain he wanted to pursue a project management career. He also knew he wanted to work for a technology company—or, to be exact, “a company that breathes technology,” Mr. Dias says.
“A path in a career depends on being able to identify the opportunities and challenges you are willing to take, but it also depends on the personal life situation,” Mr. Dias says. “All three must be in alignment.”
After obtaining his Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential, Mr. Dias joined Ericsson in 2000 as a customer project manager. Within three months, he was promoted to program manager, overseeing the network rollout for a major customer in Brazil. He left Ericsson in 2005 to join Telcordia—only to return when Ericsson acquired Telcordia in 2012.
“Whatever you decide to do in your career, do it with passion and focus,” Mr. Dias says. “But above all, be prepared to stand out of the crowd. Always think about what differentiates you from the rest.”
Gusztáv Haberle, PMP, HP Enterprise Services, Oslo, Norway, understands firsthand what it means to take advantage of both organizational infrastructure and personal direction to progress along a project management career path.
Mr. Haberle started at HP Enterprise Services as an asset manager, gaining knowledge of the company's product offerings, and then progressed to become a quality manager. Throughout this process, he was performing the job function of a project manager, relying on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
After nearly three years with the company, Mr. Haberle is now a PMO lead, responsible for developing the project management process.
He credits what he calls a “very good method” at HP for helping project managers advance. The company lays out a clear progression path for project managers, he says.
“You can choose the path and goal you would like to achieve and you have lots of training materials to study,” Mr. Haberle says. “We have to be proactive and find our goals first, and we have very good technical assistance and the support from HP to move forward.”
While HP Enterprise Services helped guide Mr. Haberle's career trajectory, he says it's incumbent upon project managers to ensure their own organizational success.
“I think the most important thing for me was to decide on my own what I wanted to achieve,” Mr. Haberle says. “Now I want to be a certified program manager, so I am choosing bigger projects and programs and studying the proper training materials. I discussed my goals with my managers, and they agreed and confirmed my path. The rest of it is up to me.”
NEW CHAIRS, SAME TABLE
At SITA, an air transport IT company based in Geneva, Switzerland, the project management career path needed a course correction.
When the organization's career framework was first established in 2005, it was divided into three functions: project management, program management and deployment (a technical role specific to SITA's projects).
In recent years, the SITA PMO team identified the need to create an additional track: project portfolio management.
Charlotte Guillaumie, the team's resource management lead, says the new role “is something that existed in reality but was just not recognized in our framework.”
As part of a major reorganization last year, SITA formally created the project portfolio manager role on a global scale.
At SITA, a program is defined as a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way with budgets above US$10 million, revenue above US$30 million and staff of 30 to 100 people. Anything below that amount is defined as a project,
“That's why we don't have any program managers anymore,” says Ms. Guillaumie, “because we don't expect managers to manage so much money and staff.”
Project managers at SITA can move along this path by advancing vertically and horizontally within the company. Junior staff members generally start out as project coordinators or associate project managers and can ultimately progress to the level of senior project manager and senior director. Project managers can also shift horizontally into portfolio management. Now promotions to higher tiers are based on performance, project success and complexity. Ms. Guillaumie says this was a more judicious way of determining promotions for project and portfolio managers.
“You know where you stand within the company when you're recruited, and as you do more and take on more complex projects, you know what you can expect as well,” Ms. Guillaumie says. PM
“Whatever you decide to do in your career, do it with passion and focus. But above all, be prepared to stand out of the crowd. Always think about what differentiates you from the rest.”
–Luiz Andre Dias, PMP,PgMP, Ericsson, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Want more guidance in developing a career path? PMI's PathPro® lets you identify and develop organization-specific career paths for your project management talent. To learn more, visit pmi.org/Business-Solutions/Talent-Management-PMIPathPro.aspx.
PM NETWORK OCTOBER 2013 WWW.PMI.ORG