Project Management: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas Ferris Wheel

Las Vegas Ferris Wheel

This post is part of the second world-wide #PMFlashBlog event, “Project Management Around the World.” Each of us is writing about the current state of project management in our own locale, published on a staggered schedule over the next few weeks. This is my contribution, Project Management: Las Vegas.

Last year, Project Management Institute (PMI) tasked the Anderson Economic Group to follow up on a set of forecasts originally developed in 2008, in an attempt to project the worldwide growth of the project management profession. Their study identified seven industries – construction, utilities, manufacturing, business services, finance and insurance, oil and gas, and information services – that will drive rapid growth. The report estimates that this decade will see the creation of over 15 million new project management roles globally, and annual growth in U.S. demand for qualified project managers by over 12%. The PMI study expects there will be over six million workers in project management roles in the United States by 2020, managing trillions of dollars in projects each year. Of course, Nevada has a slightly different mix of businesses, and consequently a slightly different outlook.

Project Management: Las Vegas

Las Vegas has never been a center for manufacturing, finance and insurance, information services, business services, or oil and gas. Prior to the Great Recession, Nevada had three primary industries: mining, gaming and hospitality, and construction. The growth in gaming and hospitality over the last sixty years also drove the growth in our population, and most of the heavy construction. Our population grew from 285 thousand in 1960, to 1.2 million in 1990, to 2.7 million in 2010. Consequently, residential housing, public utility, and civil engineering construction continued, even through the downturn. Today, planned expansions and renovations of casino resorts are in the news, as is the ongoing renovation of downtown Las Vegas, led by Zappos and a few other visionary local companies. We’re once again seeing a lot of demand for project managers with construction and civil engineering experience, in addition to those with experience in corporate IT and the gaming and mining industries.

There’s one other expected growth segment in the United States: health care projects. Whatever you might think of the Affordable Care Act, it is proving to be a driver for employment among those prepared to help drive costs out of health care delivery. PMI expects the annual growth rate for health care project manager positions to be about 30%. Here in Las Vegas, we have a mix of software vendors, hospitals, and managed care providers with over twenty open requisitions for project managers. We often say that to get the best medical care in Las Vegas, you have to go to the airport, but it looks like these folks are serious about driving change.

Our Evolving Processes

As for our processes: it’s been interesting to watch the growth of Agile methods in software and manufacturing industries. We’ve embraced Scrum, Kanban, and various other approaches, with greater or lesser success, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Of course, we’ve also gotten much better at stakeholder management and change management in general. Another interesting trend is a focus on measuring ROI as a part of project portfolio management, rather than simply estimating it in order to get funding. I’ve recently seen two local projects cancelled because the ROI wasn’t going to warrant completing them. We’re also getting better at risk management, but not in all industries. We’re still trying to figure out what to do with the Harmon Hotel, which is uninhabitable due to construction errors, but impossible to either repair or implode without risking other billion-dollar buildings.

Looking Ahead

Ivanpah Solar Plant

Ivanpah Solar Plant

I have a lot of hope for the continued growth of project management in Las Vegas. The local PMI chapter has an excellent mix of folks from different employers, including government and industry. We have a young, diverse work force, and a lot of visionaries like Tony Hsieh of Zappos and the folks behind the Ivanpah solar power site. And of course, we have over 40 million visitors every year – thank you for supporting our economy!

This entry was posted in PM In the News and tagged , , , , by Dave Gordon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.

6 thoughts on “Project Management: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

  1. Pingback: PMFlashBlog Round 2 "Project Management Around the World" Posts ##pmflashblog #projectmanagement | A Listly List

  2. Pingback: PM FlashBlog 2014 - North America | The Practicing IT Project ManagerThe Practicing IT Project Manager

  3. Dave,

    It is interesting to see project finances and project ROI, they are distinctly different, but so important to realize managing a project budget is different than accounting for project, enterprise ROI.

    Appreciate that you present this perspective.

    Best wishes in project delivery,


  4. Thanks, Toby. In a previous job, I was an IT project portfolio manager for one of the casino resort companies here in Las Vegas. It’s interesting to see how much things have shifted in the last few years, from a project-centric approach to a portfolio-centric, enterprise approach. It’s a good trend.

  5. Dave

    Glad I could help (as 1 of the 40 million tourists!). Your point about ROI is so true we have one here in England where the government is trying to build a high speed train line from London to the north. They estimate it will speed up journey times by 20 mins and this will aid the economy. The country is yet to be convinced on the ROI.

  6. I know what you mean, Barry. Infrastructure investments are hard to sell, especially transportation improvements. The U.S. interstate highway system was envisioned by President Eisenhower, and without his popularity and excellent reputation, it would not have been built. I couldn’t say what the U.S. would be like without it, but I’m pretty sure our GDP would be significantly lower. Like the Internet, things that support the exchange of goods and information get used in ways the original designers never considered. Any projected ROI model is going to be a blind guess.

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