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Project management: the new standards

October 9, 2023
Claude Palmarini
Project management: the new standards

Project managers need to develop the ability to adapt and question themselves, in order to adjust to the changing reality of projects. This flexibility has enabled some companies to maintain their survival in turbulent times.

But flexibility isn't everything: to do their job properly, PMs can resort to certification, master new standards and assume their strategic role.

PMP certification

For a long time, the Project Manager Certification (PMP) exam focused on the major process groups: Monitoring and Control, Initiation, Closure, Planning, Execution.
The new structure validates your skills in:

  • Relational, because people are at the heart of projects, and a project is a human adventure.
  • Process, because all approaches are good, if used at the right time.
  • Business, because we need to listen to the organization's business needs and understand the strategy behind projects.

The exam covers predictive and adaptive (Agile) in equal measure. The PMBOK 6 remains a valid, but not exclusive, support, bearing in mind that the PMP exam is based on several references. For more information, please consult the PMI reference list.

Relational skills

The project manager must seek to develop skills in :

  • Motivate and guide teams.
  • Help the organization achieve its objectives.

Soft skills include managing conflict, leading a team, supporting team performance, empowering the team and stakeholders, using emotional intelligence, etc., all with the aim of fostering a caring environment and ensuring that everyone is rowing in the same direction.


As a project manager, you must also :

  • Develop skills related to specific aspects of project, program or portfolio management.
  • Determine the best approach to creating value.

Value creation is not specifically monetary! It is determined according to organizational vision and objectives.

Process control covers communication management, risk assessment, change management, planning and management of the various aspects specific to project management (risks, stakeholders, quality, scope, etc.).

Finally, understanding the different approaches and their tools

The business

Next comes the business knowledge domain, which includes :

  • Developing skills related to our ability to make strategic connections according to the industry context.
  • Improving performance in creating value for the organization.

It's clearly a question of being more strategic for the PM, assessing external changes in the project's scope, keeping an eye on what's going on around the company that may affect the project. If necessary, the project manager must be able to redirect the focus, always with a view to creating value.

Beyond processes, principles

This is the most significant change.

The principles aim to :

  • Inform what's important,
  • Influence the choice of approach
  • Be achievable

There are twelve principles. Without going into detail about each of them, let's just say that they promote respect, diligence, benevolence and a culture of responsibility within teams. They remind us that stakeholders are not problems, but people who need to be reassured. That any project can involve both threats and opportunities. That systems thinking is the best way to respond to the interaction of the various components as a whole. That ways of doing things are improving. A non-exhaustive list.

The ultimate goal is to create value.

This requires a judicious choice of project approach, since not all projects can be treated with the same approach (predictive or adaptive). This choice can be facilitated by W.O.W. (way of working), which helps to determine what is best, according to a number of criteria (type of funding, instability of requirements, team flexibility, etc.). Other factors involved in the choice of approach: team culture, organizational culture, organizational constraints, team skill level...

All these factors explain the rise of the hybrid approach to project management.

Project manager or project leader?

The evolution of projects and organizational expectations has two consequences for the role of the project manager, who is expected to become a project leader:

  • The PM must become more strategic.
  • The PM must be creative in the way he or she does things.

This will change the way the project is planned, estimated, monitored and concluded.

The project manager must prepare to become a creator of added value, whether in terms of delivery or skills within the teams. They must understand and share the vision and context behind the project.

Project management is very humanizing.

A project leader must therefore align his words with his actions to become the builder of a culture of benevolence and accountability, diligence and respect that wins the support of those involved in the project. The project leader motivates, influences, coaches and learns.


The role of the project leader is changing as the context of organizations has evolved considerably. Less dogma, more adaptability to the realities of the project, the company and the team members, but always with the same focus: creating value and facilitating change to achieve the envisaged future.

Project management: the new role of the project manager

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