Businesses continually shift how they approach solving challenges and accomplishing work. Advancing technology and data analysis drive new possibilities to better meet ever-evolving consumer demands. Project teams emerge as the best way to consistently produce desired business results and consumer expectations.

The use of project teams to achieve both short-term and long-term business goals makes professionals with project management knowledge and experience valuable to organizations in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. Executive education programs that focus on project management are a practical pathway for lucrative and engaging careers in project management.

This project-focused business environment is what the Project Management Institute (PMI) calls “The Project Economy.” It refers to delivering value to stakeholders through the completion of successful projects, product delivery, and alignment of value streams.

What Is the Project Economy?

PMI began using the term “project economy” in its annual “Pulse of the Profession” report that focuses on the project management field.

PMI defines the project economy as “one in which people have the skills and capabilities they need to turn ideas into reality.”  It relies on skilled project management professionals to take the business strategies developed by leadership and put them into practice, moving quickly to achieve goals and propel the organization forward.

Organizations that participate in the project economy seek to deliver not only financial value but also societal value, according to PMI.

The Evolution of Project Management

The project economy represents a fundamental shift in how organizations use projects. In addition to putting strategy into action, business leaders also increasingly use projects to foster organizational change. They understand that maintaining the status quo does not work in the modern market.

Part of the change in the project economy is driven by meeting the needs of consumers in specific industries. Other drivers are more universal. All global companies, for example, need geographically distributed, multi-ethnic, and often multinational project teams for operations in various parts of the world. PMI argues that most organizations are the sum of their projects.

It’s a sentiment shared by others. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) writes that operations created tremendous value for most of the 20th century. But successful projects “increasingly drive both short-term performance and long-term value creation.” They do so through frequent organizational transformations, faster product development, and quicker adoption of new technologies.

Other advantages of projects include:

  • Better alignment of teams, stakeholders, and clients
  • Potential to save both time and money
  • Improved internal communication
  • Better risk management
  • Creation of smoother processes

PMI estimates the value of the project economy worldwide will grow from $12 trillion in 2017 to $20 trillion by 2027, with 88 million people working in project management roles. An IBM executive told HBR: “Soon, we will no longer have job descriptions. We will have only project roles.”

Skills Needed For the Project Economy

Those interested in excelling in the project economy need a specific skill set that starts with an in-depth understanding of managing a project. These fundamental skills include defining project value and ensuring projects reflect existing enterprise standards and support capabilities.

Project managers must understand the details of both the predictive/waterfall approach to plan, execute, control, and close a project. They must also have competence in the adaptive/agile approach initially developed in the software industry.

Successful project managers also know how to develop clear and concise project goals, define team member roles and responsibilities, and manage a project budget. They understand project portfolio management and planning and concepts that contribute to project success, such as structured thinking, business and technology architecture, organizational change management, risk management, and communications.

The Project Management Certificate offered by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business covers these topics and much more, preparing professionals for success as project managers. The certificate meets the 23-hour requirement for Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification and the 35-hour requirement for Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. This IU certificate is offered 100% online or in-residence. The online option features four three-week courses with a one-week break between each. Students attend the in-residence format at the Bloomington, Indiana, campus for five days.

The Kelley School of Business designed the certificate program for professionals ready to move up in their early and mid-level careers, those who have taken on responsibility for change initiatives, and those interested in earning project management or agile certifications.

Project management has become more complex and vital to organizations than ever before. Expertise in leading projects is an increasingly valuable and marketable skill in the foreseeable future.