This time last year I reviewed the trends in social and collaborative technology in the project management space: some of my predictions had come to nothing and it was interesting to look backward and hold myself accountable for what I said would happen.
This year I’m looking forward into 2017 to highlight some of the project management trends I think it is worth watching out for.
1. A Focus on Professionalism
The biggest challenge facing project management today is that project-related work and jobs are growing too quickly for our approaches to professionalism to keep up.
I think we’ll quickly see companies that don’t have professional methods for project management in place wanting to shift away from planning on the back of a postcard to taking more robust approaches to doing projects.
We need this because project work is huge and complicated.
It’s helped by the underpinning technology. Even the smallest firm (including my own company with all of two part-time employees) can use project management software. There are so many products to choose from that you can find one that scales right down for you, but still gives you a professional framework for getting your work done.
The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in the UK next year may well have a significant impact on training budgets even in mid-sized firms. A positive benefit to this could be employers putting existing professionals through the Higher Project Management Apprenticeship scheme, upskilling them at virtually no cost (or at least, through funds already paid to the government in the form of the levy).
The APM has already made huge inroads to gaining Chartered status for Project Managers. Will 2017 be the year we get our first Chartered Project Professionals?
2. Big Data
If you’ve come to one of my presentations about project management technology trends, you’ll have heard me say that big data is a game changer for projects.
Our software tools are full of data from the risks we log to the estimates we fail to achieve. You can’t hold information in your head about how accurate each individual team member has been in estimating their workload on this project and the last five projects they have worked on. With big data processing capabilities, your software could sift through the estimates and actuals, and then flag the three team members with the worst record for getting their estimates right so that you can appropriately challenge them.
3. Blended Methodology
Are you waterfall or Agile? Or something else?
I think it matters less and less with each passing year. What matters is whether you can get the job done in a way that works for your business. If that’s a blended approach, and I’m seeing that more and more, then good for you. If pure Scrum works, or you’re totally a waterfall shop, then as long as you are seeing results no one is going to care.
If project success rates are going to go up – and they really should – then value and business benefit are where we should be putting our energy. Not into what template you need to use or whether it’s a ‘risk log’ or a ‘risk register’.
4. Integrating the Learning Legacies
How long can we cruise on the coattails of project successes like London 2012? We’ve got major projects coming up in the UK like Crossrail 2, the Hinkley Point C power station and the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.
We need to be focusing on learning the lessons from successful major industry projects like Terminal 5, making use of the learning legacy information that is available (Crossrail apparently has a public access learning legacy site now but I haven’t seen it yet).
Even smaller projects can make use of the lessons learned on the biggest investments. I’ll be watching the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform to see what impact that has on project success (lots, I hope).
Project management and change management have collided. To be a good project manager you need to be doing change management too. It’s no longer enough to turn in your deliverables and hope for the best. Even if you aren’t the person responsible for change management as a minimum you need to make sure that someone is doing it and track that progress in the project plan.
Collaboration on projects has never been more important or more critical for success. As teams get larger, more widespread and flatter, as consumer and activist groups gain more traction, project professionals need to know how to engage stakeholders and bring people on the journey more than ever before.
If I had to choose just one trend to follow next year, it would be collaboration. Fantastic things happen when people work together for a common goal. There’s nothing to stop you reaching out to your industry peers to get advice or to talk through a problem. That’s collaboration too.
Be brave, find your people and have a wonderful 2017.
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