global map project manager

The Global Technology Project Manager Outlook

Is technology project management a disappearing occupation in the United States (US)? How about in other countries? Or is the increase in project management professionals rising?  The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t’ even classify project manager as an occupation.  The Project Management Institute (PMI) releases an annual survey every year that surveys globally based project managers (in any industry – not just technology) to market its Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.  The report claims that 82% of PMP certified project managers report an average of higher median salaries than those without. PMI reported a USD$152Million 2016 annual revenue in dues and exam fees alone.  This post is US perspective written for readers in North and South America, Africa, India, Europe, and Austrailia.

The Global Project Manager

In a September 2017 New York Times article, Vindu Goel reported that IBM had more employees in India than in the United States (US).  As waves of buyouts and layoffs occurred in the US, IBM doubled its workforce in India.  Consider that those India workers received one-half to one-fifth of a US salary the math is pretty simple on how much IBM has saved.  Our global economy and social collaboration enable knowledge sharing such that colocation of human resources aren’t necessary to the continuation of the business.

Dr. Ronil Hira, associate professor at Howard University and research associate with the Economic Policy Institue in Washington D.C., wrote in a 2016 August blog post that along with the outsourcing model, many companies require H-1B liaison to “help with the transfer of work to the offshore team.”  Coming from environments where offshore skilled workers were the norm, then where does the project manager fit in technology?  If the transfer of work and communication barriers occur with development and maintenance of systems, then how can highly paid project managers successfully manage and remain competitive in this global environment?

In another 2017 article, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap, PMI indicated that a “dramatic increase requiring project-oriented skills,” attrition, and a sharp rise in demand for China and India for project management skills means that by 2027 there will be significant need.  Information Services and Publishing was second only to Manufacturing and Construction when it comes to demand for project management professionals.  In fact, there is a sharp rise in the project-oriented skillset demand (17% growth) for the healthcare sector in the US alone.

“The global economy has become more project-oriented, as the practice of project management expands within industries that were traditionally less project-oriented, such as health care, publishing and professional services.”

Global outlook for project management professionals

What does this mean for the global demand and outlook in technology project management?  For China and India, the opportunity is almost staggering when you consider that in India alone, an increase of seven million project management professionals will be needed into 2027!  In the US, PMI estimates an additional two million.  Other countries examined show marginal increase, but demand continues to grow.

Do the numbers add up?

If you look at India, US, and Japan in the previous chart, you may assume that PMI would use more project manager responses in their annual salary survey. But if you drill down into the data this isn’t necessarily the case.  Over ten thousand respondents were from the US while only 1480 from India and 615 from Japan.  Consider that PMI describes itself as the “world’s leading project management organization with over 500,000 Global Members and over 280 Local Chapters Internationally“.  For a global organization that had an excess of USD 151Million in “dues and professional examination fees” in 2016, the US respondents are disproportionate.

Global project management job outlook is positive in all countries, but China and India lead.  When you consider the drive for digital transformation objectives in companies similar to IBM the opportunities for project management in technology in the top three countries are enormous.  The IT industry accounts for five percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Outlook will only continue to grow in India and China as long as the world finds the cost of IT about one fourth the value of domestic salaries.

Global opportunity

In the IT industry, it has been made clear that co-located personnel, project managers, in this case, can be located just about anywhere.  In fact, other countries such as Peru, Columbia, Spain, France, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have savings identified when it comes to the survey respondents to PMI.  Areas similar to the US will be eyeing these countries to also fill a gap in project management professionals at a much lower cost.  To what end though?  The field will become much more competitive, and project managers who require higher salaries will need to pack their skillsets with a punch!

Of note, the gender gap in the PMI salary survey was pretty significant.  Even in all industries, the disparity of women in the project management field was eye-opening.  Women need to be further represented in this area, not only in the US but worldwide.  Corporations led by women need to take a  hard look at how non-US countries are recruiting and training women for the project management field – as well as the undercurrent of a pay gap.

To compete in this global playing field, project managers will need to begin looking at what drives excellence and understand how they stack up in the project management industry.  It’s leadership, communication, and many other soft skills that will make the difference between two similar candidates. The global opportunity for project management professionals in the technology industry has a full playing field and does call for some understanding or separation from non-IT related principles.

Final note

If PMI cannot further represent non-US global project managers and women, a non-profit organization needs to be built to support a comprehensive methodology where the language of project delivery is common, and certifications are free.

Other web resources used in this research:


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