Time to embrace change

Source: PSE Feb/Mar 17

The way we work is changing. As a profession, we must be ready to embrace it, writes James Driver on behalf of the Association for Project Management (APM).

The environment in which project professionals must deliver projects is changing. Uncertainty across the political and global arena, combined with new technologies and demand for project professionals to deliver a wide range of schemes from a growing array of sectors, has triggered a step change in how projects are delivered. 

Project sponsors are demanding project professionals who can keep pace in an environment which endures fluctuating budgets and scope, while still keeping the scheme on track to deliver some of the most complex projects seen today.  

In government, the ambition and scale of the largest projects continue to grow apace, alongside their social impact. Delivering projects in this context requires collaborative and co-creative ways of working; methods for accommodating constantly shifting stakeholder perceptions of need and value; and consistent models for projecting requirements and benefits far into an unknown future. 

Enhancing stakeholder communication 

With major projects continuing to grow in size and cost, both internal and external stakeholders are demanding more data to reveal where money is being spent. And the future benefits on the horizon of public projects, which are generating wide-scale press coverage, aren’t expected to slow down.

This new demand, especially in the public sector, has seen a growing requirement for project professionals to advance their stakeholder communications in order to maintain support for their project. According to APM’s recent Salary and Market Trends Survey, 67% of respondents identified stakeholder management and communications as a key skill for project management professionals. 

The survey also revealed a need for project professionals to adopt greater managerial skills to direct projects across multiple organisations. As we move forward in 2017, it is clear project managers can’t control change by simply pulling levers; they must now operate a system effectively across multiple inputs to make change happen. 


The pressures of supply chain and recruitment uncertainty 

Uncertainty around supply chains and recruitment continue to put pressure on projects already underway, as Brexit and global politics leaves organisations in limbo around what the future holds. International projects are also feeling the effects of Brexit, with exchange rates impacting on buying power on a daily basis. And while 2017 may be the year the full effect of Brexit is recognised, it is vital projects are ready to evolve and endure whatever challenges follow.  

There is a glimmer of certainty on the horizon. Earlier this year, Theresa May announced the plans for a modern Industrial Strategy to deliver new infrastructure in the public and private sector and ensure young people have the skills needed to deliver the outputs of tomorrow’s industry across the country. It is here that the new generation of project managers, equipped with skills fit for the future, may bolster the profession’s pipeline. 

To ensure the profession is ready for the challenges ahead, APM is set to host its 2017 Project Management Conference at London’s Barbican Centre, one of Europe’s largest performing arts centres, on 27 April. 

The conference will look at new challenges the profession must overcome in order for well-trained and competent project managers to effectively deliver successful change. 

Sue Kershaw, APM board member and conference chair, said: “Our APM conference, ‘Making the Mould: transform, diversify, revolutionise’, is all about creating the project management of the future, and is a showcase of how our profession is raising the bar to meet the challenges of economic regeneration, climate change, security, technology, innovation and globalisation. This will influence how we can best manage complexity in a rapidly changing environment.”

Featuring a wide range of speakers from across the industry, the APM Conference will leave no assumption unchallenged. It will also provide an insight into the future of the profession, the people, the practices and the projects and how they will transform the world we live in and the way we work. 

The line-up of speakers include Sir William Atkinson, acclaimed as Britain’s most successful head teacher, who successfully turned around “the worst school in the country”; Christian Bason, head of the Danish Design Centre; and Ledia Andrawes, programs director at Think Place.

For more information

Details of the APM Project Management Conference 2017 can be accessed at:


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