Which project management trends will we see in areas such as resource planning, collaboration, methods and tools? How are the roles of the participants in the project environment going to change? And what new challenges are in store for the PMO? Article provided by theprojectgroup.com.
In this article, we take a look ahead to the coming years in agile, traditional and hybrid project environments. The trends, however, do not apply to all industries and types of projects in the same way. We combine our own experience with the information from public sources and derive the main points from this. Based on assessments and forecasts you will be able to implement the right strategies for your project management environment.
These are the topics in store for you:
Trend 1: Resource planning is becoming more and more important
Trend 2: Knowledge sharing continues on the rise
Trend 3: Agile and hybrid methods continue to gain importance
Trend 4: Remote working and hybrid work environments are here to stay
Trend 5: Change management is becoming more important
Trend 6: The PMO is becoming more strategic
Trend 7: Using PM tools is becoming easier
The world has changed significantly in the last few years – not least due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digitization or climate change. This also has an impact on our professional world.
This is how the German Handelsblatt headlined its report on STEM Reporting from November 2021: “Short of over 275,000 skilled professionals – Shortage of experts already greater than before COVID”. A massive gap for the future presenting the world of work with new challenges.
This has an impact on the skills required of employees – the so-called future skills.
The Stifterverband and McKinsey & Company recently published the “Future Skills Framework 2021”. Accordingly, it is possible to differentiate four categories here:
- Traditional skills
- Key digital skills
- Technological skills
- Transformational skill
The survey of 500 companies and public sector agencies in Germany demonstrates that the respondents rate the importance of individual skills differently today than for the future.
Above all, the respondents considered the skill of problem-solving ability important, as well as entrepreneurial behavior, initiative, resilience and creativity. And it is exactly these skills that will gain importance over the next few years according to the survey.
Key digital skills, too, are coming more and more into focus, as is agile working.
Yet, which project management trends can be derived from these developments? Let us get into our forecasts.
Trend 1: Resource Planning Is Becoming More and More Important
The recent studies and surveys have clearly shown that resource planning in project management is becoming more and more important – even at the top levels. All roles must be involved.
Project Management Office (PMO)
Thus, the PMO for example is increasingly taking on the coordination of resource management alongside team leaders and project managers. Together with the decision-makers, this central office has to provide capacities with the appropriate skills in a forward-looking manner.
The team leaders are increasingly involved in ensuring their team members receive ongoing training. For example, retraining personnel is one way of continuously increasing knowledge. The goal should be to retain employees in the long term. Expanding their knowledge will not only strengthen the staff’s ties to the company but will also provide for employee satisfaction. After all, satisfaction with one’s own job is becoming more and more important in the fast-moving labor market.
Project managers are increasingly engaged in finding solutions for clear goals and social skills. Traditionally, it used to be possible to define a clear goal with the project order. These days, however, we are often unable to fully define this, which makes a different approach to the topic necessary. In addition, the constantly growing number of projects means that the responsibility of the project managers to adequately take care of everything has increased.
Mastering all of this, requires team members to deal honestly with ambiguity, lack of knowledge, and deadlines. After all, the main reason for unsuccessful projects is missing goals or failure to define them clearly.
Resource Management Must Be Complete and Good Enough
Unfortunately, the resource situation is not easing in most industries and companies. There are those who still have too few employees and those who suddenly have too many. Thus, the trend towards optimizing the workload of existing employees continues unabated. Those responsible will have to try to make the unpredictable predictable.
In order to do this, they need to know what their employees are working on – not just in projects but also in operations.
To make matters worse, new requirements for further projects and future fields of knowledge come up at ever-shorter intervals. These have to be taken into account more flexibly in strategic capacity planning.
Rough yet complete resource planning is more helpful for this purpose than precise planning for only a few projects. There is growing acceptance of the “Complete and good enough” approach. What is more, companies are increasingly turning away from Excel in the resource management context, as the tool is just not flexible enough. Special tools for resource management are much better suited for this.
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Trend 2: Knowledge Sharing Continues on the Rise
You will be a familiar with this problem: gurus as a single source keeping their important knowledge to themselves create bottlenecks in resource planning.
If you have too few suitable staff members with similar knowledge whom you can deploy at the same time, this will lead to resource conflicts. The closer the skills of the available staff members are to each other, the easier it will be to assign them. This will automatically reduce conflicts.
Yet, this will only work if you really share the knowledge. Hence, it is not the actual number of people that is the problem but the bottlenecks for certain skills.
You may be faster on your own in the short term. In the long term, however, you will get further together. In agile environments, this mindset is the norm. Yet, for many established traditional organizational structures, this kind of rethinking will be a major challenge
The trend towards sharing knowledge is becoming more and more prevalent regardless of the industry. As a project management trend, it is increasingly exhibited by the younger generation.
Trend 3: Agile and Hybrid Methods Continue to Gain Importance
In the traditional project management environment, we have so far seen changing assignment to projects in different teams. This approach, however, is becoming more and more problematic. In the agile world, on the other hand, teams remain constant across many iterations. They work together in the true sense to achieve usable results.
The feasibility and the scope of the intended results was previously estimated by the agile teams themselves in advance and divided into Sprints. This makes it much clearer what actually can be achieved and what cannot. Everyone knows:
- Who is able to do what
- What can be seen as reliable
- What is rather uncertain
Moreover, team members in a consistent familiar team will find it much easier to share knowledge.
More and more companies are adopting this approach with success. Hence, agile methods will also continue to gain importance in the future.
Hybrid Approaches in Project Implementation
In our fast-paced world, it is more important than ever to look at usability, not at a specification. With agile methods, the focus is on the final product from the beginning. However, there is an open-ended approach, and the usability is questioned on a regular basis. This can ultimately lead to a final product that is different from the original plan, yet everyone is happy with it.
Trend 4: Remote Working and Hybrid Work Environments Are Here to Stay
Recently, Microsoft has published the first annual Work Trend Index in 2022. It provides insight into the wellbeing of employees in a remote working world and shows what senior staff should be paying special attention to now.
Due to COVID-19, large segments of the workforce have switched to working from home and want to stay there. Others, however, miss the interaction with colleagues in between, e.g. by the coffee machine or in the corridor.
A clear trend becomes apparent which also applies to the project environment of the future: the right mix of remote and onsite working must be found to meet the employees’ wishes and to retain them. This is where companies must adapt.
Trend 5: Change Management Is Becoming More Important
In the context of digitization, organizational changes are often implemented as projects. In this process, something often goes wrong. Implementing a new software tool, for example, may not bring the desired benefits, as the prospective users have not been duly accommodated, prepared or taken along.
To make projects successful, it is indispensable to duly address the change process in the organization in parallel to the actual content implementation. This is the task of change management.
It will depend on the scope of the changes and the number of people affected whether taking care of the change will be a task for the project manager. However, it probably always makes sense in such ventures to get change management specialists on board.
This insight may not be new, but lately people have not only talked about it but actually acted on it. Change management is a key success factor for projects in the future.
Trend 6: The PMO Is Becoming More Strategic
The PMO is increasingly taking on responsibility for the implementation of strategic targets. Organizationally, it is most beneficial if the PMO is established as an executive department with direct access to top management.
In this context, successful strategic capacity planning requires an enterprise-wide resource overview and good skills management. Finding and training appropriate resources is essential, as is their even more dynamic assignment to strategically valued projects.
In portfolio management, the PMO should work more towards the abort of weaker projects in the future. A purposeful project abort will free staff members on time for projects with a higher priority.
The term “fail cheap” is not new, yet it is particularly important in this context. It makes sense to recognize failure early and take appropriate action before the damage becomes even greater. This supports the cultural change needed in the future towards successful project failure.
In the future, PMOs must brace themselves for the following changes:
- Stronger ties to the boardroom / top management
- Not only creating standards and reports
- More coordination in resource management
- Stronger involvement in portfolio management
- Flexible use of PM methods
- Individual guidance and support for project managers in traditional, agile or hybrid processes and methods for the right mix
- Lessons Learned are to be applied and ongoing adjustments to be made to the PM Guide
Trend 7: Using PM Tools Is Becoming Easier
Even now, it is much easier than before to begin using PM tools. This has become possible through the flexible use of offerings in the cloud.
- Are easier to use, as an installation is unnecessary
- Enable easier billing due to monthly licensing per user
- Cause less trouble when it comes to cross-company access
- Enable better collaboration
- Offer the possibility to use different tools on a case-by-case basis
- Are easier to launch and more flexible to use in the cloud