IT Project Management Jobs in Singapore
IT Project Management jobs in Singapore have been on the steady decline for the last 5-6 years.
Salaries and contract rates for IT project managers in the same period have halved, or more.
But the last 5 years have been all about change, more often in a downward direction, and change is the mother of all project work. So what has been going on? And what does the future hold for project managers across Singapore and Asia as a whole?
With the decline of global economies, and in particular the down-sizing of many international banks, the impact across all businesses, local and international, has been felt.
IT Project Management Jobs of the Past
Lets first look at where the IT PM jobs used to be. The International investment banks were by far the largest consumers of IT project resources. Banks have traditionally grown, moved, grown some more, moved again, moved data centers out of the office space to Co-Location or dedicated data centers.. and so on.
Even with the change of various business streams there has been a constant need to implement programs of change. Then there has been the mergers and acquisition. These generate an extraordinary amount of work for people, generally under the umbrella of “Transformation” programs, and the fall out is a steady stream of projects and programs.
In many cases the banks will have some internal expertise for delivery of projects and these used to be supplemented with external contract resources through the traditional PM consulting companies we all love to hate.
IT PM and the Banking Industry as a Thermometer
The banking industry is a good thermometer for employment opportunities across other industry sectors. If the economies are good, people are earning and spending and the result is that business everywhere does well and we hear of growth and expansion, more competition and that promotes jobs and change. All great signs for project managers whose life depends on change.
When economies take a hit and rapidly slow, or crash, as has been the case globally over the last 6 years, then the first punch comes to infrastructure projects and non-essential jobs – the highest cost investment for most large organisations – new premises, new or larger office space and all the associated trimmings that go along with those projects – construction, engineering, technology, facilities, Av and, of course people.
None of this is news, we have all witnessed and suffered, to varying degrees, the changes brought on by the economic crash of recent times. But isn’t this over yet?
You’ll hear from various sources that we’re OK, the economies are all on the come back, albeit slowly. What you wont hear from most companies is that the changes they had to make to survive the turmoil and change have resulted in a change in the way the company operates and this may not necessarily revert to the way things were in “the good old days” Before the crash.
What we are seeing now is that the result of down-sizing and tightening the financial belts of many organisations is not about to change in the short term. The redundancies of the last few years have in many cases moved workloads on to those staff left behind, increasing their work and reducing the costs to the company – less staff more productivity. Or is it?
Corporate Change – are the Old Days gone for good?
As a consultant in project and program management for the last 30 years, I’ve seen the changes brought on by the down-turns and crashes and the truth is that whatever the “economic recovery” brings back it certainly does not bring back the good old days. Corporate cultures change, work load and expectations change through re-structuring at departmental levels as well as enterprise levels and people change.
I note with sadness how many organisations have, over the last 20 years, changed leadership for financial management. With the older leadership style of building and managing companies gone, we have been living in a world managed by money men (and women). Bean Counters. So gone are the true values of a business, quality, real staff development, consideration and support for the people who manage day to day the organisations success or survival and so on. Even the small companies and start ups today seem to focus on the bottom line and not on investment in the right people and resources to build the future.
This is inevitable to a degree – the whole world has become a culture of bean counters and bean counters have no interest in such things like culture, quality, good investment in people and such intangible concepts.
Further more, due to cost constraints, departmental managers have been forced to cut their own costs and this has been achieved by reducing costs for external resources when it comes to project work. Why pay 2 or 3 times the cost for an external PM when you can get one of your not so busy (I mean overworked) staff to take up the challenge. Who really cares about the associated risks and change management formalities of planning and delivery of multi-million dollar infrastructure projects when you can throw internal inexperienced staff at the job and save a few percent of the overall budget. They are all doing it today.
Is the economy ever really coming back? Will the jobs of yesterday come back soon? History shows that economic cycles are a function of the capitalist world and that we have seen in our own time the 5-7 year cycles of good and bad times. I’m not an economist so I can tell you the ins and outs and the controlling factors to look out for. I’m just Joe Normal – like you, I see prices increase and salaries decrease year on year. All I want to know is “will the stress of making ends meet ever let up?”
I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope it’s not another on-coming train!
I was speaking to a friend of mine recently who is a day-trader. He is able to make a living out of it and has been entertaining himself with making extra income over the years. He seems to know enough about what’s going on with trends across various industries to have a positive view on the near future. I hope he is right. He believes the job scene for IT specialist will start to show noticeable improvement come Q2 2015.
Part of this optimism is the recognition that over the last 6 years there has been a mas exodus of key technology skills and experience from large institutions and many smaller service providers. When there isn’t enough work then people have to find other ways to survive and often that means moving home to go where the work is. When the economy bounces (or crawls) back, and companies start to look at growth again, they will find, again, that they key skills and resources they need can’t be found inside there four walls. So the expectation is that next year we’ll see a rebound in the markets generally and significant increase of technology jobs coming back on to the market.
Project Management Is On The Way Back
I wrote this with a particular view on Singapore, which is reflected across other major economies like Hong Kong and Asia generally. However, the employment market in the UK is now looking very healthy and growing stronger, as is, apparently, the technology job market in Australia too. In part this support the theory that a positive sign of the economy turning around is the growth in demand for skilled labour.
But don’t ever expect the time to be like “the good old days” ever again. The changes in corporate culture, corporate values and corporate leadership, as a result of cutting back for survival, will leave its scars and recovery will never be 100%. When leaders move on and are replaced by bean counters the first casualty is quality. Quality of everything takes a dive, including leadership, training, products and services and peoples futures.
Project Management Dinosaurs
For the older generation among us, and that includes me now, suck it up. The values and quality of organisations we used to work for 20 years ago no longer exist. We are dinosaurs and will soon be extinct.
For the new generations coming into the work force and those that have been working for less than 15 years – you missed an era of leadership and the colourful times of working in organisations that really cared about its people. But that’s not to say that you can never change things if you have the courage to do so.