Is Project Management Dead and Do We Really Need Project Managers Anymore?

Is Project Management Dead and Do We Really Need Project Managers Anymore?
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Off With Their Heads!

The world of project management has been around since those cave guys decided how to build the wheel—who would do what and who would be in charge—even if they only grunted instructions. In today’s world, it’s much more complicated. With offices and teams becoming global, diverse and specifically trained do we really need a leader to organize, control and monitor projects?

Baar said of managing teams, “It is rare if someone is dedicated fulltime to one project” and “For most of them (team members) I don’t have fulltime tasks.”

An article on the Public Sector PM website said of project managers, “A PM can easily move from one industry to another—i.e. could manage (a) high rise building construction one month (and) development of a new medicine next month.” Maybe, but isn’t the world looking for specific talent?

I can only imagine the current Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI), Beth Partleton, PMP who reigns until year 2013 would indeed be miffed at these points of view.

Truth Be Told

Honestly here, the world of management is changing. New methodologies pop up, people are trained in specific areas and often do work on many projects all at once in a part-time, here and there fashion. Today’s clients and external stakeholders just want to know how it’s going, and when and where to show up if and when a leader has an update.

Perhaps “team leaders” are more on the rise while the top of the chain manager is out—especially if using the Agile Methodology. Can’t team leaders just meet, determine the path and skip the manager, saving on project costs?

Doesn’t every team working within a 5S format already know the rules once set? These roles are clearly defined and changed very little or not at all throughout process or production. If workers know what is expected of them and are all on board, do they really need an overseer?

Does having a PM certification such as a PMP (Professional Project Manager) really mean anything these days or are companies looking for field experience?

All of these seem to make me agree that the role of the project manager may be heading for doom.


It Is Lonely at the Top

Collaboration is a must for today’s global teams and as Baar mentioned, he has never even met some of his team members, let alone lead them. Do teams need an organizer to complete the puzzle at hand or can they figure it out on their own?

It’s not just trouble with the United States economy, it’s all over the world and organizations are looking for go-getters with specific knowledge areas to lead—not the project—but the tasks expected of them, complete them on time and skip paying the large salaries of the trained manager.

If a client offers up a set budget and the manager has experience in leading a project but is not trained in the areas of the project at hand, what’s best to cut out of that budget? A software developer trained to build the client’s product or the manager who has never worked on an software project before? I’d say the manager’s pay will reduce the project costs greatly. After all, the software developer isn’t looking for technical guidance—he already possesses it.

So, we can throw out the need to collaborate with a leader if a task is given to a qualified person, right?


Promoters of project management love the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), live and die by it. Yes indeed the PMI does highly recommend the need for monitoring a project—that’s why they wrote this bible on management.

Can a leader be replaced with accessible communication plans, brainstorming sessions, mind maps and control charts or do teams need someone to “splain it to them” as Ricky Ricardo would say? In a way, one could say the need for leader is sort of pompous really. I mean, those trained to work on projects are not brainless—they are talented people.

So out the window monitoring can go, right?


Well, on the conflict and change management side of things you’re probably saying by now, nope, no way, she’s gotta see the need for a project manager here! Nope, once again, aren’t qualified human resources departments able to handle these issues? Why do you need a manager to stop the fighting between Billy and Bob?

So, I’ve nixed the conflict resolution factor too.

Island of Lost Souls

Your Island Awaits

Do these lonely men and women at the top have a future or will the world of the manager turn from a trained PM to specialized managers who possess defined skills for specific projects?

On a funny note, while Baar may think project management is dead as we know it, his article did intrigue me, especially the statement at the end, “I am looking for a true Project Management Body of Knowledge… If you have that PDF on your hard drive, please mail it to me. I need it.”



Bas de Baar – Project Shrink “Project Management Is Dead,” retrieved at

Public Sector PM (post by Jon 2/14/2011) “Project Managers Are Dead Weight” retrieved at -

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Guillotine - Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

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