The Information Age has transformed every professional into a project manager regardless of the title they hold. In an era of outsourcing, many professionals are also global project managers. Earlier this year, BDO published a study showing that 63 percent of American tech companies plan to outsource or manufacture products outside of the United States, up from 35 percent in 2011.
Today’s employees manage everything from marketing campaigns, to product development, to hiring, to building websites, to product designs, and more. If they’re not actively championing these efforts, then they’re leading smaller initiatives as part of a larger team.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management “is the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It’s a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals — and thus, better compete in their markets.”
In an effort to cut costs and leverage talent overseas, organizations need employees who can conduct efficient and effective project management, often across borders. Good practices require the “chunking” of tasks into smaller milestones, simplifying processes, effective communication, breaking down silos, and leveraging technology in order to make collaboration possible.
Lack of project management skills can prove to be costly in terms of money, time, and energy. How much? Companies risk wasting nearly 14 percent of their project budgets through deficient program management, according to PMI. It can also breed frustration and mistrust within a team. For instance, lack of clear communication in terms of assignment expectations can lead to expensive re-work as lower-level employees spend days working on the wrong tasks or doing this inefficiently.
Sofia Hess of Genius Inside offers a few suggestions for simplifying the complexity of projects. “Make decisions fast. Do not wait until you know every little detail, but make your decisions when you think you know ‘enough’,” says Hess, who is a manager at the project management software company. “Break with old hierarchical patterns and present yourself to your team as a strong team leader who also gives his employees authority.” She adds, “Simplify your project environment by abolishing unnecessary bureaucracy and make processes leaner.”
Good project managers outline their plan of attack in a defined document that lays out the roles, responsibilities, milestones, and deadlines for each team member. They must also be vigilant against warning signs that could soon place the entire project at risk.
A small variance in schedule or budget can get bigger over time. Missing out on milestones may require late night and weekend shifts. However, this can be tricky of the team had low morale to begin with. Additionally, project managers must continually act as quality control champions to ensure that completed assignments are up to standard and don’t jeopardize the overall mission.
In a competitive marketplace, employees must view themselves beyond the traditional paradigm of clock-punching automatons. They are valuable members of global companies that have moving parts and pieces all over the world. The complexity of global sourcing has transformed the workplace into a room full of project managers, and such roles require improved skills in this new economy.