A Period of Transition

It’s December 30, according to the widget in the lower right corner of my screen.  Over the last week or so, I’ve seen dozens of lists, retrospectives, reviews of what was accomplished (or not), and more than a few assessments.  I’ve even seen some predictions for 2013 and beyond, in addition to the usual batch of resolutions, dubious (and earnest) plans, and vows to do something different; or at least, do the same things, differently.  But I tend to view this little window of time not as an end or beginning, but as a period of transition.

No matter what deal President Obama and Congress eventually agree to, I think we can safely assume that the special tax treatment for qualified dividends will go away.  Will this reduce the attractiveness of dividends for corporate America, and free up more cash flow for capital investment?  Maybe; but in any case, the last few lean years have seen a lot of deferred maintenance.  A lot companies are looking at the cost of annual support fees, and re-thinking their commitment to premises-based software.  I suspect we’ll see rapid growth in the trend of replacing enterprise applications with Software-as-a-Service.  But I suspect we’ll also see a lot of upgrades to aging ERP applications, too.  IT project managers will have a lot of work to do in these two areas – just a quick look at the postings on Dice will confirm that the scramble for talent has already begun.

On another level, PMI has now started the roll-out of the fifth edition of the PMBOK, as well as the third editions of the Standards for Program Management and Portfolio Management.  A lot of organizations that have embraced these documents as sources for the core of their project management and governance processes have some decisions to make.  What shall we change?  What shall we retain?  How shall we manage the transition?  There will likely be a number of blog posts, articles, white papers, and even books on the subject, and a lot of consultants will find work guiding organizations and their PMO’s through the process.

And let’s not forget the mega-trends: climate change, the growing scarcity of potable water, and food shortages.  If you were disappointed that “instead of a Mars colony, we got Facebook,” take heart.  We’re about to enter a period when much of our most valuable innovation will be driven by human survival.  From wind power to crop management to natural disaster mitigation, the future is going to be built with information.  There will be a lot of opportunities for information technology to contribute, and for IT project managers to make a difference.

Will things be different?  Sure – they always have been.  And as drivers of change, we’ll have a role in the transition.  Maybe even a critical role.  For some of us, a decisive role.  So, if you’re ready to lead the next round of changes, this will be a tremendous opportunity for you.  Because every period of transition needs leaders and managers who can be a calming influence.  And be sure to take good notes, because the projects you’ll lead over the next few quarters will likely be the most compelling part of your next resume.