The future of work is here. From artificial intelligence to robotic process automation and beyond, cutting-edge technologies are dramatically impacting how people work to make strategy reality. New research from the Project Management Institute, AI Innovators: Cracking the Code on Project Performance, found that 81 percent of respondents reported that their organization was being impacted by AI technologies, such as knowledge-based systems, machine learning and decision-management tools.

While these technologies are in the early stage of adoption in the federal government, the President’s Management Agenda and other key administration and congressional proposals recognize the need to modernize and reskill the federal workforce. With the federal government increasingly being called upon to meet many of our country’s most urgent and pressing needs in new and innovative ways, agencies need employees that can integrate new technologies and value-delivery capabilities to help them better meet their respective missions and deliver services more efficiently for citizens nationwide.

In short, the federal government needs to raise its project management technology quotient, or PMTQ.

PMTQ adds a layer of project management to the concept of technology quotient (TQ) — a person’s ability to adapt, manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organization or the project at hand. This term is taking on a new urgency as organizations search for digital sustainability — the capacity to adapt to the constant whirl of change brought on by advances in technology. Coupled with the changing nature of work in our increasingly projectized economy, we see an even greater demand for TQ combined with project management, or PMTQ. With federal agencies turning policies into solutions in a world constantly being revolutionized by technology, PMTQ will be the must-have, make-or-break skill set for the federal workforce in the future.

How can the federal government raise its PMTQ?

A high PMTQ is defined by three key characteristics: always-on curiosity, all-inclusive leadership and a future-proof talent pool. To get there, agencies need to put technology front and center, build digital fluency across the enterprise, reimagine career journeys and embrace the skills needed for digital project management success.

Project management and TQ should have an unbreakable bond — but individuals must still marry their PMTQ to EQ (emotional quotient) and IQ (intelligence quotient). As the PMI Talent Triangle illustrates, the future of work demands a combination of technical and project management skills, leadership skills and strategic and business management skills — along with the ability to learn and keep pace with technology. To inspire stakeholders and motivate teams, leaders will not only need intellectual and technical prowess, they’ll also have to tap into emotional intelligence qualities, like empathy, self-awareness and motivation.

The good news is that some of the building blocks needed to increase PMTQ in the federal government are already in place.

Last month, the Office of Personnel Management updated its program management job series, as required by the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act. This refreshed job series embraces an up-to date set of competencies that helps increase PMTQ within the federal ecosystem, while also acknowledging the impact that new technologies will have on the successful delivery of projects and programs going forward. It also allows agencies to leverage certifications to confirm that employees and candidates are ready to meet the rapidly changing demands of federal projects and programs.

Congress is also taking an active role. In the House of Representatives, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 would require the Department of Defense to establish career paths for its acquisition workforce, including project and program managers, and implement certification requirements based on nationally or internationally recognized standards developed by a third-party entities. If passed into law, these provisions would lay the foundation for increasing DoD’s PMTQ and further advancing a high-performance project and program management culture within DoD that focuses on improving efficiency, agility and transparency.

The rapid pace of technological advancement — combined with the ambitious scope and scale of many essential federal projects and programs — requires agencies to recruit and retain a ready-for-anything workforce that knows its technology as well as its project management. Through more efforts like these that raise federal PMTQ, the federal government will be better positioned to deliver value in this new era of digital disruption.

Thomas F. (Tommy) Goodwin is the government relations manager and Amanda Good is the government relations specialist for Project Management Institute, a not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program and portfolio management profession.

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