For as long as project managers have been around, it is easy to forget that the number of project managers proliferating throughout various industries is still on the rise. More and more organizations are recognizing the value of project managers as the data on the subject piles up. Mounir Ajam reflects in a blog post on how the domain of project management (PM) continues to expand. PM in its most modern sense originated in the middle of the twentieth century in the defense and major infrastructure industries according to Ajam. It has since gone on over the years to carve a niche for itself in non-profit, health care, oil and gas, information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals, marketing, education, human resources, and numerous other sectors. These days, PM is doing well enough that professionals are even shifting careers toward it, coming from backgrounds as diverse as aviation, food, and tourism. As a result, there has been a terrific surge in people seeking certification to add to their PM credentials. PMI has more than half a million people with at least one PMI credential, APM Group has distributed approximately 800,000 PRINCE certificates, and IPMA has close to 200,000 certified individuals. Ajam personally believes that the sudden boom of project managers and the rush toward certification may actually inadvertently cause damage to the profession, though he has yet to elaborate on how that might occur. Arbitrarily deciding to start assigning project managers in organizations is inevitably a mistake at any rate, especially as Ajam tells it:
Project management is an emerging domain where a large percentage of its practitioners do not have formal education in this domain. Many are technical or functional specialists who are reliable professionals in their domains. Then management assigns them and expects them to manage projects. The situation becomes complicated since management’s expectation is that these specialists should perform, in the project manager role, at the same level of performance as in their working field of expertise. These professionals are what we call ‘accidental project managers.’
Pulling project managers from diverse backgrounds often works out very well, but these people must be properly trained to manage before the project has begun. When employed intelligently, it seems project management still has verdant fields in which to grow.