As project managers, we are on the front lines of new process developments and the deployment of new technologies. We are tasked with managing in changing environments, and asked to stretch our skill sets to include an understanding of business imperatives in addition to leading people and processes towards defined objectives. Project managers, in projectized organizations, are often involved with the presentation of business cases, the structuring of NPV (Net Present Value) models, the formation of budgets, and estimation of the projected costs before the project is undertaken. The memories of the tech-sector euphoria and subsequent downturn are still fresh. These memories resonate strongly for project managers in the financial services sector as well as those who are involved with how technology projects are financed and measured. We must be mindful that the role of project managers has increased, as has the expected scope of our business understanding.
We cannot plead ignorance of the core business drivers, which are at the heart of the commercialization of new technologies. We certainly have to appreciate that technology can become a commodity as markets become more competitive. We should be aware that globalization combined with the shrinking product life cycles of new technologies, has created a fiercely competitive landscape where survival hinges on a company’s ability to commercialize technology. In their paper “Commercializing Technology…what the best companies do”, T.M. Nevens, G.L. Summe and B. Uttal suggest that leading companies:
1. Commercialize at least two to three times the number of products as their peers.
2. Incorporate two to three times as many technologies.
3. Bring their product to market in half the time (relative to their competition).
4. Compete in twice as many product areas and geographic markets.
Beating the competition requires meeting customer needs for mass customization as well as time to market targets. Project management is at the root of countless technology commercialization initiatives; more companies have embraced its use, and have a better appreciation for the benefits of the project management discipline. The spread of project management in mainstream businesses has necessarily raised the bar for all of us. It is imperative that project managers not operate in a vacuum. We as project managers must be sensitive to business, economic and environmental factors that impact the business and the projects which drive the business. This is especially key when we are managing projects that are integrally connected to the commercialization of new technologies or to mission-critical elements of the business. The evolution of project management continues…