I first wrote about the need for more blockchain project managers at the start of 2017. I’ve been advocating for more projects to hire project managers since then. The holidays gave me time to reflect on the state of blockchain project management as 2018 begins.
Blockchain experienced what many would consider a breakout year in 2017. Its momentum is unlikely to slow down in 2018. Blockchain projects, existing and new, continue to develop at an accelerated pace.
I don’t get the sense blockchain project management has kept pace. I estimate most blockchain projects still aren’t managed by project managers. From the work I’m doing in the blockchain world, I see three categories of projects -
1 - Projects that don’t have a project manager and don’t think they need one
I estimate about 60% of blockchain projects aren’t managed by a project manager. The owners of these projects either don’t think they need one at all or don’t think they need one yet.
My thesis is the right project manager helps blockchain projects succeed. I explain why in this post.
2 - Projects that don’t have a project manager but want one
I estimate about 20% of blockchain projects fall into this category. I’ve spoken to a number of project owners that recognize the need for a project manager, yet don't have one.
They face two challenges. The first is finding a project manager who knows even a little about blockchain. The second is is trying to slow down long enough to find and onboard one.
The latter perpetuates a difficult cycle. The longer a project delays working with a PM, the harder it is too slow down and the more likely it is that something will break.
3 - Projects that do have a project manager
I estimate about 20% of blockchain projects are managed by a project manager. These projects usually recognize the PM need early in the project and have taken steps to hire a PM then.
Whether the selected project manager proves to be the right fit is a different story. That’s the topic of another post though.
If my estimates are even close to correct, most blockchain projects don’t have project managers. That’s a big opportunity, as the number of existing projects continues to grow. Yet significant challenges stand in the way of realizing it.
A major challenge is convincing blockchain project owner that project management will help their project succeed. I took a shot at making this case in my earlier post.
Another challenge is to engage with a project, once the project owner has recognized the need. I’m trying to figure out how to do this, in the least intrusive way possible to the project owners.
Even with the lightest touch, engaging requires the project owner to slow down a little. This is necessary to give even the most effective project manager what they need to get started.
There's another opportunity that has me feeling optimistic about blockchain project management in 2018. This is managing projects on behalf of project sponsors.
Project sponsors may be project owners building protocols for others to use or the fund managers investing in the projects. I’m starting to see interest from these projects' sponsors. Some are starting to recognize that a project manager can help make the projects built on their platform or that they invest in more successful.
Finally, there’s the product manager vs. project manager question. To me, these are similar roles, although that opinion tends to bother people, especially product managers.
Putting that aside and taking into account the traditional definitions, I see project managers as a fantastic fit for blockchain projects building infrastructure. Infrastructure buildout is the phase many well-informed people believe blockchain is in now.
I also believe project managers are well-suited to manage Dapp development projects. My sense is most project owners view that as a product management role.
There’s no shortage in infrastructure projects and the need continues to grow. I believe infrastructure is the foundation for long-term blockchain value creation and dissemination. For these reasons, I intend to focus most of my attention in 2018 on infrastructure projects.
P.S. - I started Chainflow to help more blockchain projects succeed. Click here to learn how Chainflow can do this for your blockchain project.