\u201cAs IT project managers we\u2019ve managed some change over the years,\u201d one of my oldest IT project management friends said in an email this week.\n\u201cNow it\u2019s us facing a great change and if we don\u2019t we\u2019ll become increasingly irrelevant.\u201d\nIn spite of this seemingly negative line, the theme of his email was really upbeat. He was telling me that he had realised that his traditional project management methodologies had been delivering diminishing returns and so he had taken a helicopter view of his (and his team\u2019s) whole approach to project management.\nThe conclusion was that different projects might need different approaches.\nNow, you may laugh at this, it may not seem like a ground-breaking observation to you. Like many IT environments, my old friend has worked in a space where, for years, each IT project could be successfully delivered with a tried and tested approach \u2013 \u201cWaterfall works\u201d might have been their motto! Project after project benefitted from a systematic formula, everyone knew what they were doing, what was expected, how to proceed through the various stages, and time after time projects were delivered successfully. Slowly though, over time, the market changed. Increasingly projects needed alterations during their life cycle to reflect market realities, the business became more IT led and its strategic goals shifted more to an ecommerce model. Then, a complex project appeared that needed an altogether more flexible, more iterative approach. He realized that he and his team had been working in the same way for so long that their skills were no longer aligned with business needs.\nHe carried out a skills audit and based on current needs, created a gap analysis. He looked at project trends to forecast what skills would be needed in the future and they had an honest look at the certificates on the wall to see how well their qualifications measured up against projected need. He said it was \u201cthe most depressing week of our lives\u201d as they realised that within a couple of years they might be, in his words, \u201cextinct\u201d!\nThey had to do something. He told me, \u201cWe had to either give up or give it our all!\u201d They chose the latter. They learned new skills, first Agile, then Lean and afterwards a whole toolbox of methodologies and approaches \u2013 remember all they\u2019d ever needed was Waterfall. Now, when something comes along that that is outside of their newly extended expertise they reach out to the project management services market for resources that complement their own capability \u2013 something that their \u201cwaterfall works\u201d previous selves would never have done.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\nI found the story interesting because I am hearing many project managers say that they feel their role is changing. Actually, last year a PMI conference adopted a theme of \u201cAdapt or Die? Transforming Project Management to Embrace the Challenges of Tomorrow,\u201d with a stated objective of preparing participants \u201cfor the significant changes that are already happening, and will exponentially increase, and how this impacts our role as project managers.\u201d The conference, in Norway, focussed on how projects in the future must mirror changing trends and adapt in terms of scope, domain, content and schedule to an ever-faster business changing world. It is clearly deeper than just anecdotal evidence from a handful of my contacts.\nAnother of my CIO contacts has undertaken a root and branch review of their entire project operation, realising in the process that project management was no longer just the domain of project managers. He told me, \u201cThere were a lot of different fingers in the pie, the business had evolved to a place where some IT projects were being green lighted to be initiated within and by individual departments. The IT project team\u2019s job had been reduced to advisory, ensuring compatibility with other business IT systems and troubleshooting when things went wrong. The project team has had to shift its idea of where it fits within the business\u201d\nIn Australia, Stephen Callaghan, the Agile Transformation Lead at AGL, has noticed similar trends, \u201cThere has been much talk about the traditional role of the project manager dying and, from my own experience, the role is disappearing in many of the organizations I\u2019m engaging with. For example, I currently work for a large utility company on a $300 million transformation program that used to have dozens of project managers and now we have none at all. That was a transition that happened in less than 12 months,\u201d he told AXELOS (a UK government\/private sector joint venture to develop best practice).\nSo, the job title of \u201cproject manager\u201d appears to be evolving into different roles across businesses and project teams are having to react fast. The rate of change so far, though, is just the tip of a very big iceberg.\nStephen Dowling (founder of ETM Consultancy and Training) told AXELOS, \u201cWhat is coming is utterly phenomenal. Over the last 30 years of technology change, it\u2019s estimated that we\u2019ve only seen 1 percent of the change in technology. In the next thirty years we\u2019re expected to see 99 percent!\u201d\nIT project management does seem to be where the greatest disruption is set to occur, I spoke with my friend who works in project management in construction and he tells me his role remains unchanged and sees no sign of anything changing in the future, if anything his remit is expanding and he is taking on responsibilities from other departments rather than the other way around.\nWise CIOs, project leaders and businesses are making preparations. Dowling said, \u201cPeople need to wake up and see that the world is changing really fast,\u201d adding, \u201cOrganizations need to be open to more agile ways of working. Currently the levels of people\u2019s engagement across the world is quite shocking \u2013 we need to unleash their potential. When people enjoy what they do, know why their doing it and are empowered they become more engaged, motivated and connected.\u201d\nCallaghan agrees: \u201cYou need the ability to pivot very quickly. Speed is of the essence right now and organizations need to be aware that competitors are coming at them from all sides. They need to morph and to take advantage of the situation; to know where the pivots and threats are going to come from.\u201d\nI don\u2019t know whether the ratio of technology change over the last 30 years compared with the next 30 years will be 1:99, that sounds (paradoxically) both Orwellian and utterly plausible! What I do know though, and there is some comfort in this, is that the Project Management as a Service universe is expanding with solutions at a rate that is keeping pace with the IT project industry finding new challenges. So however, your business and your IT project operation evolves, there will be best practice help available.\u00a0\nIn conclusion, like with most change, it\u2019s how you react that determines your destiny. Nothing lasts forever, I remember the postman once telling me that he had a job for life, I often talk with him about this as he pulls me a pint in one of our local pubs. The point is, things change, you have to either adapt and embrace it or quickly become obsolete.