The project-management landscape may continue to evolve alongside the business environment and may look much different in the future. As clients, stakeholders, businesses, government, and environmental expectations change, the need for PM certifications, technical knowledge, and training will be in higher demand—but that’s not all.
A transformation is taking place in the project management field as the result of changes to business practices, requirements, and expectations. It’s putting a sharper focus on the people, processes, and technologies needed to successfully execute projects.
It may no longer make sense for companies to use limited resources, as they have in the past. Here are five trends that could reshape the future project management hemisphere.
Trend one: The laser focus on strategy over projects
Competition, limited resources, internal and external environmental factors, and time and budgetary constraints are increasingly impacting businesses. Leaders will need to transform their PMOs or project-management teams to focus all efforts on reaching business goals.
While industry benchmarks are useful in planning directionally, leaders will need to focus less on general-industry-related data that sometimes guide planning sessions and more on precise business strengths and weaknesses to determine the best opportunities for reaching specific identified objectives. Setting up an EPMO that is focused solely on reaching overall business strategy instead of individual departmental goals can greatly increase the chances of reaching those goals.
It may also serve the business better if individuals are selected for goal-centric projects based on their high-value core strengths in relation to business requirements instead of selecting project team members in the traditional style of departmental representation. Taking this laser-focus approach to strategy over projects can optimize resources, time, and budgetary use.
Trend two: The move away from operational hierarchies to leverage employee strengths
While organizational and cultural strengths are greatly influenced by the management team from the top down, there is typically the quiet employee-level buzz that resonates throughout the rest of the company, which also greatly impacts the organization and the culture, whether recognized or not.
Leadership will need to find positive and productive ways to seek, promote, and reward the various strengths of their people in order to build and brand a stronger team environment.
Smart leadership may choose to adopt a true open-door policy when non-management employees hold differing opinions, ideas, and ways of working. They may instead seek opportunities for optimizing these individuals’ strong suits in ways that can have an innovative, progressive, and constructive influence within the company.
Hierarchical organizational charts will need to be redrawn in a way that allows people with “intrapreneurial” (an employee’s ability to work within an organization but think like an entrepreneur) mind-sets to share ideas with decision-makers, despite the chain of command. It is better to adopt an environment where big ideas can flow internally from an employee rather than externally from your competitors later. Individual and cultural differences are not bad; they have the potential to be the new and improved, but they require the need to fight fear and the control to think bigger.
Trend three: The increased need for accountability and social responsibility
If asked about the most important things in business today, owners and executives may just say profits, but is it enough to just focus on the bottom line? How much should social responsibility and accountability factor in when it comes to executing projects or doing business in general for that matter? With the whole world watching, businesses can no longer conduct themselves in anonymity and give no thought to social or environmental factors.
Trend four: More emphasis on softer skills, not just technical training
In addition to PM certification and technical training, softer skills and solid communication—whether verbal or written—will continue to increase in value. A large part of project management is dealing with people who are impacted to a great extent by interactions with other people. Skills like the ability to resolve conflict and deal with ambiguity, diplomacy, and confidentiality will be at the forefront as more projects are globally implemented and transcend language and cultural barriers.
Project managers will need to develop positive and constructive ways to address issues as they arise. These soft skills are not easily found and will become increasingly popular and in high demand. Sometimes what may seem like an innocent gesture, word, or even body language can cause unintentional and significant misunderstandings and discord. Other high-value soft skills that employers will look for in a project manager include agility, adaptability, and the ability to rapidly refocus efforts, as well as sound judgment.
Trend five: Remote work, PM tools, and security
Each day the workforce becomes more widely dispersed and mobile, which increases the need for remote-project-management tools and labor. Having the right technology can make or break project schedules, budgets, and overall success. Remote project management is not for every company, but it is increasing in popularity and demand. As a result, security policies and procedures need to be developed and implemented in order to keep client data secure, especially when employees or vendors use their own mobile devices.
Other issues that factor into remote project work include productivity degradation, location, distance or time-zone differences, communication barriers, and technology and data access issues. Realistic and practical policies and practices should be identified and implemented to address these. Teams will need to be connected with increased frequency as the workforce becomes more mobile and creates the need for improved business intelligence, cloud-based project-management solutions and mobile apps for data sharing and collaboration.
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Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.