Project Management Trends to Watch in 2019

Project Management Trends to Watch in 2019

Insights | 31 January 2019

2019 is already in full swing – another new year on the books! While most of the journey this year will be marked by good old-fashioned hard work, it doesn’t hurt to stay on top of trends.

Here are five things we believe will matter most in 2019 to the project management community.

Remote teams

Some 70% of Australian employees work remotely in any given week[1] and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. That means the average project manager is either spending time working from home or is confronted with many project stakeholders working in a similarly flexible capacity. This impacts the way you run projects – so if you haven’t flexed your muscles around strategies to guide distributed teams, now is the time. Building trust[2] is job number one, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because strong and trusting work relationships increase speed and efficiency and, ultimately, performance, according to Gallup polling.

‘Wall-to-wall’ project management

Companies with a high degree of project management rigor waste 21 times less money than underperforming counterparts, according to the latest Pulse of the Profession report by the Project Management Institute.[3] So it’s no surprise that companies are starting to deploy project management resources where only a light footprint was before. Think of PMs building out capability in PR/communications, marketing, design and other areas where there is less history of technical or professional project management. Certifications, of course, will still count. In the same survey, 72% of PMO leaders said certification remains “very relevant for mid-career project managers.”

Cloud software proliferation

The promise of the cloud software revolution was the moon and the stars. Yet today, the average worker is being asked to toggle between nearly two dozen different cloud-based applications at work. Likewise, project managers have had to adjust to a new reality. One analysis found that the move to the cloud has put pressure on PMs to gain new skills in three areas[4]: financial and costing skills, deeper knowledge of enterprise architecture “to ensure that newer applications get developed with the correct business and technical requirements in a manner that they work seamlessly with the existing applications hosted in the cloud and onsite.” And let’s not forget being asked to negotiate with vendors.

Big data/AI/Machine learning

Predictive project management is here. According to one director of Microsoft’s Cloud AI team in talking to CIO magazine[5], AI helps remove risk in projects, “whether that’s prediction for the project up front or removing risk in the execution…There’s so much uncertainty and how we deal with it now is that we create giant buffers.” Machine learning will also help with risk management and governance but will require (for many companies) a focus on getting data into a state that machine learning can even be applied. Over time, all available jobs will shift toward more creative work, according to famed physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. “The jobs of the future will be what robots can’t do…common sense, creativity, imagination, leadership, analysis,” Kaku told software company Daptiv for their 2019 PMO predictions[6].

Soft skills

That brings us to so-called soft skills, competencies that don’t always get the headlines they deserve. Soft skills are crucial to the success of each and every project. PMI captured at least some of this data[7] and it remains relevant today. The ideal PM skill set comes down to excellence in “technical, leadership, and strategic and business management.” When organisations focus on all three skill sets, PMI reports, “40 percent more of their projects meet goals and original business intent.”

Last thoughts

The 2019 outlook for project management is shaping up to be challenging yet bright. Does this match with your experience?

If your organisation requires assistance executing your transformation objectives, contact us today on +65 6818 5771.

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