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Pulse of the Profession® 2020

Ahead of the Curve:

Forging a Future-
Focused Culture
A New Way to The
Forward Economy
Call it disruption—or just the new normal. Change is as relentless as
At a time of extraordinary change driven by new it is pervasive—from the
technologies, executive leaders from across business, impact of technologies like
government and nonprofit organizations know that success artificial intelligence to the
depends on big, bold ideas. And they need people with the clamor for greater social
skills and mindset to deliver on those ideas with big, bold accountability to custom-
projects—or risk being left behind. The survey results for ers’ ever-evolving expec-
this year’s Pulse of the Profession® revealed an average tations. Organizations that
11.4 percent of investment is wasted due to poor project stick with the status quo
performance. And organizations that undervalue project risk not just treading water,
management as a strategic competency for driving change but sinking.
report an average of 67 percent Now an essential
more of their projects failing outright. business asset, change
With so much at stake—and so happens through projects.
Work has much in flux—organizations must Organizations are under-
changed. So rethink some fundamental questions: going a fundamental para-
Why do we exist? What do we offer? digm shift in which projects
must the way Who will be tasked to do the work? are no longer adjacent to

the world The 2020 Pulse reveals a new way

of doing business. The beginning of
operations but instead
primary to how work gets
thinks about a new decade is ushering in a world done and problems get
full of complex issues that require solved. In today’s C-suite—
projects. organizational leaders to reimagine and tomorrow’s—it is the
not just the nature of work, but how portfolio that disrupts, that
it gets done. innovates, that expands
For the first time for Pulse, executive leaders identified and thrives. In many ways,
which factors they see as the most important to achieve the organization is its proj-
success in the future. The top three were: organizational ects—led by a variety of
agility (35 percent), choosing the right technologies to invest titles, executed through a
in (32 percent) and securing relevant skills (31 percent). variety of approaches, and
Future-fit organizations are not only willing to re- focused unwaveringly on
imagine their vision and purpose, but also eager to adopt delivering financial and so-
new ways of thinking that will allow them to thrive in The cietal value. This is what we
Project Economy. call The Project Economy.

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 2

Ready, Set, Change
Executive leaders are no longer simply bracing for world is fueled by the massive shifts in technology,
change. Instead, they’re rebuilding their organizations which are sparking concern in the C-suite. According
to make agility and creativity part of the organizational to PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, the speed
DNA. More than half (53 percent) of organizations sur- of technological change ranked among the top eight
veyed in Pulse say they place a high priority on building a threats—with 29 percent of respondents saying they
culture receptive to change. are extremely concerned.
At Nutrien, a leading provider of crop inputs, services Yet leaders also realize they can’t simply ignore
and solutions in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, the the coming wave. When Pulse asked senior executives
company’s technology and transformation project team what area they expect to make the most considerable
“The technology operates with a startup mentality. investments in over the next three to five years, the top
“The technology group needs to be the incubator of responses were technology advancements (49 percent)
group needs to innovation, trigger disruption to reimagine business and and digitalization (44 percent).
be the incubator drive implementation with agility,” says Debasis Bhau- To maximize the benefits of disruptive technologies,
mik, PMP, vice president of IT at Nutrien. “The approach project professionals must embrace how artificial intelli-
of innovation, should be to fail fast, learn and move on.” gence and game-changing tools can empower them for
trigger disruption Yet many organizations cling to a cautious approach the future. Accenture, for example, focuses on increasing
regarding their cultural transformations—which only the data fluency of its team members. “We’re making
to reimagine
delays acceptance and might trigger even greater sure that everyone in a project role will be able to under-
business reluctance from team members, says Bob Roark, PMP, stand the core metrics from the different project tools
and drive executive solutions strategist, Cherwell Software, Den- at their disposal and use these metrics to track decisions,
ver, Colorado, USA. rather than just rely on their experience,” says Luca Girau-
implementation “The first stage is denial,” he says. “‘I don’t want to do, PMP, senior manager, Accenture, London, England.
with agility.” do this; I’m not going to do this. Why do you guys always These digital skills are no longer perceived as merely
do this to me?’ That kind of stuff. Then, over time, it an added benefit. Although project leaders need not
—Debasis Bhaumik, PMP, becomes, ‘Okay, fine. I’ll do it.’ Then, finally, they’ll start engineer new solutions, they must have enough techno-
Nutrien, Saskatoon, to understand this new thing, and all of a sudden it logical know-how to assess progress, review deliverables
Saskatchewan, Canada becomes the norm.” and advocate for the customer.
To secure buy-in, executive leaders need to clear- That doesn’t diminish the need for strong people skills,
ly articulate the vision for the changes—including the though—quite the contrary.
benefits to come. “If people start understanding ‘what’s “In the future, artificial intelligence will be doing a lot
in it for me,’ then they’ll get there faster,” Mr. Roark says. of the reporting and administrative work,” says Priscila
And that case needs to be made right from the start. “If Duarte, PMP, technical delivery manager, Microsoft, São
you [communicate] behind the change, it’s an uphill battle Paulo, Brazil. “So it will be important for project manag-
no matter what you do.” ers to invest in their leadership skills and other people
Much of the change ricocheting across the business skills because those will never go away.”

In-Demand Skills
Pulse data show organizations are placing a high priority on the following aspects
of talent development in support of successful projects:

68% 65% 58% 50%

Technical Leadership Business Digital
skills skills skills skills

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 3

Expanding Skill Sets
Even the most forward-looking organizations won’t Ramcharan, PMP, management consultant, City of To-
be able to reach the next horizon if their teams are ronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “One of the things that
struggling to execute. Organizations are creating fu- is really becoming apparent worldwide is the importance
ture-ready talent by prioritizing technical proficiencies, of people skills—interpersonal proficiency.”
leadership acumen, business strategy and digital skills, Project managers are leading cross-functional
per the Pulse findings. teams, with the authority to “self-govern, define their
“There is a lot Project professionals will be required to ace far own objectives and deliver independently without de-
of focus on more than the triple constraint of scope, time and pendencies on other areas of the business,” Mr. Giraudo
budget. Pulse data show most organizations place says. “Project managers of the future will not be mere
building new skills nearly an equal emphasis on developing leadership executors of project management approaches.”
alongside the skills as they do technical skills (65 percent and 68 As last year’s Pulse reported, there’s a fundamen-
percent, respectively). tal shift in how work is getting done. More people in all
existing ones.” That’s leading to a new set of power skills focused on roles will be hired to manage a portfolio of projects, and
—Luca Giraudo, PMP, building strong relationships. Take empathy: 91 percent increasingly, those projects will be tied to technology.
senior manager, of U.S. CEOs believe the skill is directly related to a That means people and companies must build their
Accenture, London, company’s financial performance, according to a 2019 TQ, or Technology Quotient—the capacity to adapt to
England Businessolver study. Leaders who take time to view the constant whirl of change brought on by advances
challenges through the lens of team members can help in technology. Coupled with the arrival of The Project
foster stronger collaboration and reduce conflicts. Economy, there’s an even greater demand for TQ com-
“There are a set of competencies we have to de- bined with Project Management, or PMTQ.
velop outside of the technical skills and tools that we’ve “There’s a lot of focus on building new skills alongside
traditionally focused on as project managers,” says Dev the existing ones,” says Mr. Giraudo.

Culture Counts
Percentage of organizations placing a high priority on
a culture that:

Centers on delivering customer value

Is receptive to organizational change

Invests in technology

Values project management

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 4
New Ways of Thinking
In an era where the customer is king, executive leaders client sought help boosting revenue, Accenture might
are taking the needs of the users to heart. Pulse data turn to tried-and-true solutions that weren’t necessarily
“A great value show that 70 percent of organizations place a high tailored to address that organization’s specific challeng-
proposition priority on creating a culture centered on delivering es, he says. That’s no longer the case, however.
customer value. “We look at every single challenge from a design-think-
for project “A great value proposition for project management is ing perspective,” Mr. Giraudo says. “We observe the
management is to to find ways to reduce pain points within the organization challenge from the point of view of different stakehold-
and for customers,” says Matthew Klein Jr., PMP, senior ers, understand the key pain points and generate ideas to
find ways to reduce director of the enterprise project management office address these challenges together with our clients. Then
pain points within (EPMO) at Farasis Energy, Half Moon Bay, California, USA. only at that point in time do we define the solution.”
That is why project professionals are incorporating Yet whether it’s design thinking or agile, organizations
the organization
a mix of project practices. For example, 59 percent must take a strategic approach to incorporating new
and for customers.” of organizations report using design thinking at least processes, says Viviane de Paula, PMP, project manager,
some of the time to explore and solve problems, ac- PMI volunteer, São Paulo, Brazil. “Many organizations are
—Matthew Klein Jr., PMP,
cording to Pulse. rushing to implement agile approaches without even
Farasis Energy, Half Moon
“We embedded design thinking in our way of working thinking clearly as to what makes more sense in the
Bay, California, USA
as part of a human-centered approach to solve prob- reality of their organization,” she says. “There is no such
lems with our clients,” Mr. Giraudo says. In the past, if a thing as a silver bullet.”

The ROI of Maturity

Pulse data show that when it comes to value delivery, organizations that are highly mature in their
capabilities outperformed those that are not, across a number of key project metrics:

77% 56% 67% 46% 63% 39% 30% 47% 11% 21%



Met goals/ Within On time Scope Project

intent budget creep failures

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 5

From the Top
In the quest to get ahead, senior executives are in- project management training and pays for Project Man-
creasingly recognizing the need for highly skilled project agement Professional (PMP)® certification preparation
leaders. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of project courses and exam fees, for example. “We need to ensure
professionals say their senior leadership highly values that we have career development plans for project
“Projects were project management, and nearly half (46 percent) of managers, that we have a career path for them that’s
really done by organizations prioritize developing a culture that values established.”
project management. Moda isn’t the only one investing in its project pro-
the heroics of Take Moda Health. Three years ago, the insurance fessionals: 61 percent of Pulse respondents report their
individuals with company had no formal governance. organizations provide project management training,
“Projects were really done by the heroics of individuals and 47 percent have a defined career path for project
no standard with no standard methodology,” says Robert Tresente, professionals.
methodology.” PMP, director of the EPMO, Moda Health, Portland, Ore- Organizations are also raising the bar on expecta-
gon, USA. “The company didn’t have a way of prioritizing tions: Pulse data show that more than half (51 percent)
—Robert Tresente, PMP, its projects or deciding what it was going to do or not do. of organizations require project professionals to hold
Moda Health, Portland, It had just so many troubles getting stuff done.” some type of certification for their role.
Oregon, USA Looking to establish structure and accelerate matu- The ROI? “Now [Moda] has these project managers
rity, the company brought in Mr. Tresente, who estab- who can lead large, complex efforts in the enterprise
lished an EPMO and a portfolio council with the authority consistently, and we can get those things done,” Mr.
to decide which projects to fund and which to scrap. Tresente says. “We’re executing on our strategies and
Moda also began investing in its talent pool. It offers we’re delivering to our strategies.”

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 6

The Future
About This
Starts Now Report
There’s no standing still in today’s warp-speed world. And no Conducted since 2006,
single project, business deal or big idea is enough to keep an Pulse of the Profession® is
organization on top forever. But leaders who look at the world the premier global survey
through the future-focused lens of The Project Economy can of project management
prepare teams, organizations and society to make the most practitioners. Pulse tracks
of the inevitable changes. major trends in project
Our 2020 Pulse of the Profession® report shows lead- management now and
ing-edge organizations adopting three tenets: in the future. It features
original market research
n Ability Is Agility:
It doesn’t matter how brilliant a strategy that reports feedback and
might be or how amazing a product idea is if it’s rendered insights from project, pro-
moot by a supply-chain disruption or a new technology. gram and portfolio manag-
Organizations that can fail fast and pivot to what’s next are ers, along with an analysis
“We’re best positioned for the future. of third-party data.
executing on The 2020 edition of
n Technology Rules—But People Influence: Most executive Pulse highlights feedback
our strategies leaders understand that emerging technologies might be and insights from 3,060
and we’re the difference between a breakthrough year and just an project professionals, 358
okay one. But disruptive technologies like AI and machine senior executives and 554
delivering to our
learning are only as smart as the people behind them. Exec- directors of project man-
strategies.” utives and project leaders must have the training, process- agement offices from a
es and talent to get the job done right. range of industries, includ-
—Robert Tresente, PMP
ing IT, financial services,
n It’s a Project Leader’s World: With so much change, ex- government, manufactur-
ecutives are increasingly turning to project leaders to help ing, energy, construction,
them turn ideas into reality. And that often requires mixing healthcare and telecom.
tried-and-true skills with emerging ones. So, yes, project Respondents span the
professionals must be up on automation and design think- globe including North
ing, but they won’t get far without people skills. America, Europe, the
Middle East, Africa, ASEAN
With so much change, no one can predict the future. But in (Association of Southeast
the coming year, PMI will examine the trends driving busi- Asian Nations), China, India,
ness in our disruptive age. And, armed with that information, and Latin America and the
project leaders will be ready to deliver real benefits to their Caribbean.
organizations and society as a whole.

PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession® Report 7

Powering The Project Economy®

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