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Navigating The Digital Disruption - The Project Management Way

By Palash Gupta, Director Engineering, Huawei Technology

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Palash Gupta, Director Engineering, Huawei Technology

Palash has extensive and rich experience of handling Big Platform & Product delivery for mission-critical Enterprise, Network Management & Optical Networks solution

Acceleration of technology and digitization has created a hyper connected, borderless world with heterogeneous competition killing current & creating unconventional industries. Disruption is the new norm and Program & Project is the best suitable vehicle to ride this wave of change & uncertainty. Environment underscores the need for organizations to consider Project Management as a strategically significant discipline and Project Manager as the bridge between the strategy and reality. Here is my attempt to pick TOP 3 trends for the Digital Project Manager.

AI - The Genie in your bottle

There are conflicting emotions around AI; one perceives it as the promise of future, while other is fearful of its impact on our workplaces, society and culture. Let’s put things in perspective.

The Challenge: Whether, Portfolio business investment decisions to maximize the ROI or project plans for efficient delivery both are based on estimations of cost, risk and potential rewards. Agile frameworks (SAFe) recommend “Lean Portfolio & Project Management” approach with iterative and incremental development; Still most of estimates are “at best intuitions and at worst wild guesses” resulting into “Best case & hope Based” plans.

Why? Project interdependencies and external environment results in numerous variables & probabilistic scenarios creating a huge web of “What-IF” conditions. Humans have limited cognitive abilities to produce, store and analyze this large information at will in real time manner.

AI-powered decision support systems can continuously retrieve parametric information, derive & analyze the potential risks, validate project success criteria, and predict project outcome. Imagine an assistant that delves into history, analyzes team’s capability based on past contribution, recommends right quantity and type of resources, assess their actual availability, and produces an optimal solution of schedule & cost. It even automatically reassigns the tasks based on its knowledge of how good people are with different technology and different areas of the system. This is meaningful, powerful and useful.

“With the evolution of digital capacity cyber crime continues to increase in prevalence and sophistication leading to multifold increase in cyber security risk & challenges”

The other side of the coin…Dell Technologies estimated that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not even been invented. Fear in every PMs Mind is “What will be my role as PM, will I be replaced by a machine?”

Era in which many administrative tasks will be automated; successfully navigating disruptive technologies requires one to have digital skill set. PMI recommends the project leaders develop their project management technology quotient (PMTQ) – The ability to adopt, manage and integrate technology based on organization & project needs. professionals will gain competitive advantage by acquiring skills where machines can’t match humans – Building trust & Motivating team, Leading in difficult times, Effective negotiation, Engaging with stakeholders, conflict resolution etc.

Owner of Trustworthy & Compliant Development

With the evolution of digital capacity cyber crime continues to increase in prevalence and sophistication leading to multifold increase in cyber security risk & challenges. On economic & political front, globalization has hit the reverse gear; world powers are advocating more protectionism & nationalism. (De)globalization bring onus on project Manager to understand and adhere to various international & regional regulations related to Legal, Taxation, Regulatory, Security and Privacy, Technological transfer, Environment, labor and local culture etc. Any non-compliance carries penalties or sanctions that, indeed, may threaten the very existence of the organization. Yahoo lost USD 350M valuation when user accounts were hacked; Marriot, eBay, Equifax, Uber, Aadhar and many more are victims of cyber attacked.

Any new project being contemplated in current landscape should pay sufficient attention to the security fundamentals of confidentiality, availability and integrity. Project Manager is primarily accountable for incorporating security into development lifecycle of the product or service and should be on top of achieving the trustworthiness.

Beginning with the end in Mind

Have a look around and you will find, A foot over bridge which is hardly being used; or introducing a flyover has shifted the point of traffic jam 500 meters further. Both of them though successfully delivered projects but not yielding the benefits which were expected from them i.e. improve the pedestrian safety & reduce the traffic congestion. Not only, the traditional measures of scope, time, and cost but the achievement of sustained business benefits is the primary success criteria for a project. Business leaders (sponsors), EPMOs & Project Managers need to bridge the gap between the output & outcome by enhancing the conversation throughout the value chain of Strategy-Portfolio-Program-Project-Operation. For a Project Manager, Value delivery capabilities are the full spectrum of competencies including domain knowledge & business skills that enable him for quick adaptation to changing market conditions by balancing efficiency and creativity. In a nutshell, PM need to “Identify how his project is expected to add to company's efficiency and competitiveness as a whole”. This requires evolving from project managers to value generators, accountable for project's financial performance, benefits realization, and its impact on organization's Top & Bottom line.

To conclude, technology will enable the PM to spend energy being more creative than administrative. A digital PM will have a pivotal role in keeping the organizations ahead of the curve by creating the strategic equity; Believe me, it’s not too farfetched and something to be excited about.

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