Darren Dalcher is a Professor of Project Management and founder and Director of the UK National Centre for Project Management. Passionate about solving real-world problems, he has built a reputation as a leader and innovator in the area of practice-based education and reflection in project management and information systems and has designed and developed the UK’s first professional doctorate in project management.
From your viewpoint, what is the future trend of project management?
The role of project management will continue to grow with a need for more project managers. Project managers will become more involved in some of the strategic conversations.
There will be a greater focus on the definition and ultimate realization of benefits with greater participation in the upfront articulation of projects and business cases. We will see a greater interest in integrating projects with change management and emphasising people and their needs rather than techniques.
There will be a greater extension to a life cycle that starts with project conception and ends with realising the promised benefits.
As founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management in the UK, what is the necessity and significance of building a national level project management organization?
There is much discourse that is needed around projects and their impacts. Not least is the ability to create a dialogue between informed practice and relevant research.
The management of projects holds the potential to link strategy, stakeholders, benefits, usage of assets, facilities and capabilities. Being able to discuss, share new insights and identify new problems and challenges is essential to the developing maturity of the discipline of project and programme management.
Having worked in project management for so long, what are your thoughts about the profession?
Project management is certainly an exciting place to be, but we need to have a bigger conversation about our role in society.
Project managers need to be involved in some of the exchanges regarding the fuzzy front end of projects. We also need to understand the purpose of projects and consider the wider impacts. We need to appreciate the connection between projects and strategy offers some opportunity for shaping and influencing.
The need for projects will continue to grow, but our role may still diminish unless we participate in these debates.
Do you have any advice to offer to newcomers to the project management profession?
My advice for newcomers is to try to understand the purpose of your project and look to developing contextual and behavioural skills that will enable influencing and participating in the exciting topics envisaged above. It is also useful to develop a longer-term perspective and consider how it applies to our project/s.
If you would like to use Professor Darren Dalcher's advice, the Institute of Project Management offers a variety of resources and courses that will help you master any area of project management.
This interview is an edited extract from PMR (2018). Project management will continue to grow. Interview with Prof Darren Dalcher; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue X – October.