Can a Project Manager (PM) play a key role in understanding the product, have a broad view of the goals and purposes of its development, and contribute to the team to improve efficiency and, ultimately, collaborate to deliver a better product to the customer? The answer is… yes.
Historically we have been in contact with process-oriented PMs, focused on ensuring that everything was being accomplished promptly, that an agile project would be carried out as scheduled, or even on administrative issues, from calculating the hours worked by each team member to verifying that all activities are correctly recorded in the tools, and so on.
Then, we have seen an evolution with a focus on people: the PM is no longer the “boss” but part of the team, even from a leadership position, aware of the need to seek a balance between the professional and personal lives of their team members, meeting the demands, promoting well-being and motivation, looking for mechanisms so that his collaborators can achieve their purposes as long as they are aligned with those of the project.
Increased product orientation
Today, a leap of courage is required. That is why a reconversion of the PM function is in order, with the focus still on process and people management but understanding the product being developed and contributing directly to the business objectives (from reaching a certain audience to obtaining a return on investment in a given period, capturing a market or enhancing user loyalty, among many others) and translating customer needs into something that the development team can follow up.
PMs are supposed to provide much deeper support and be more committed to the product: why it is done, why it should or should not include a certain feature, whether or not to get involved in the development of a specific feature, which will require three or four sprints and which will not have a relevant business value…
The “PMs of the future” should leverage the knowledge of agile methodologies and traditional skills to unblock impediments and manage the needs of their team, contributing the skills of a business analyst to negotiate with the client in line with the business vision.
Flexible and communicative
Other skills should be highlighted, such as flexibility (the ability to adapt to the client’s way of working when necessary or to incorporate new methodologies to generate better results), communication (to exchange ideas about the pros and cons of doing things one way or another, in an open and participative manner, giving as much visibility as possible about all situations and circumstances in order to make better and timely decisions), active listening and, especially, the openness to accept criticism or opportunities for improvement and to work on what needs to be changed.
In Making Sense’s experience, the benefits of incorporating a multifaceted PM with a business vision include the ability to detect new value opportunities for the client, the possibility of exploiting emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence in favor of the organization, the fact that the development team has someone close by to answer questions or validate different issues (which increases productivity and efficiency levels, as well as product quality, especially when the client’s side does not have someone available full time). It also promotes client innovation. It suggests paths to test an idea and provides the metrics to understand if it works or how it could be improved.
A real paradox: the projects being developed today could add many benefits if managed by the PM of the future.