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Project Management: Hot Trends for 2015

2015 project management trendsI had another baby this year. I returned to work properly and saw a project go live (yep, just the one). I’ve drunk more tea than in previous years put together, often three or four cups by 8am. I have scrubbed poo off the bedroom carpet and worked late into the evenings in bed, often with a baby snoring in my ear.

In many ways, this year has been unremarkable. I imagine many project managers with young families did exactly the same.

But next year? For my family, who knows what it will bring (birthdays, potty training and more snot, I expect). For project management, I’d like to hazard a guess. These are my predictions for the future of project management in 2015.

We will cut across silos

Cross-team communication is the best way to get projects fully integrated with the rest of the business. We’ll find ways of embedding projects into business teams and we’ll rely more heavily on cross-functional teams to get things done. That’s because we don’t have the money to have people seconded on to teams: business experts with knowledge of how projects work will be required to support several projects at once and none of them full-time.

Enterprise PMOs will help with this: we’ve already seen a rise in PMOs (although the state of the PMO tends to be cyclical – I wouldn’t be surprised if it wanes again before taking permanent hold).

We’ll invest more in change

Gartner reports that organisational change is the biggest risk for businesses. That isn’t doing it – it’s doing it well. One of the speakers at the PMI UK Synergy event last month said that typically 8% of a project budget is allocated for business change.

That’s ridiculous.

Project management needs to grow up and become more rounded when it comes to change. Who has the luxury of a dedicated change manager? If you do, that’s great. If you don’t – no one is doing it for you. Change management is now part of the project manager’s job.

We’ll recognise that we provide a service

Project management is one of the many back office functions that keep an organisation working. We provide a service to those people who use the deliverables to make the company money. Our project stakeholders are the customers of the project management process, just like I’m the customer of the coffee-making process when I order a skinny decaf pumpkin spice latte.

With the shift to cloud computing taking a serious hold we’ll stop thinking about software and tools and start thinking about services.

I hope more project managers get the customer service mindset in 2015.

[Read more about customer-centric project management here.]

Our professional groups will work together

I have been at conferences where a member of one professional body raises an eyebrow when you mention the other. I hope that will stop. I think we’ll see a less antagonistic relationship between the professional bodies in the UK. Since APM won the right to pursue chartered status earlier this year it opens up the ground for a positive working relationship between that body and PMI.

This is already happening: Ricardo Triana, Chair of the PMI Board of Directors, gave a well-received presentation about supporting project managers whatever their affiliation at Synergy this year. He explicitly said that the moves that PMI are making aren’t about gaining membership share but about providing the tools and industry awareness to help project managers achieve greater success.

Total harmony in the next 12 months? A girl can dream – but at least we are moving in the right direction.

Online tools will amalgamate

Projectplace was bought by Planview this year in a move that illustrates the consolidation that needs to happen in the online project management space. The Deloitte Shift Index reports that social media use at work is decreasing, and I think that’s because project-based teams are finding it hard to adopt online ways of working due to security and governance concerns.

Consolidation in the marketplace, interoperability and open standards and more structured support for governance in virtual teams will help address this decline.

That’s what I think. What are you forecasting for project management in 2015? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.


  1. Tim Wilson says

    Elizabeth, you’re right on the money about the need for a more customer-centric mindset in 2015. I believe that understanding who my real customers are, and being deliberate about what I want their experience to be when working with me, is key to delivering a truly great project management service. Not starting with a process for engaging me, or for delivering a project, but starting with a great customer experience, and building the process around that.

    • Elizabeth Harrin says

      Tim, I wish more project managers thought like you! I am seeing it change but too often project teams are hampered by process and ‘stakeholder management’ without actually realising that they are doing the project *for someone else*. And that person is the customer. I get good customer service when I buy a coffee – why shouldn’t I get it when I commission a multi-million pound project?

  2. Paul Nicholson says

    I agree with your statement “With the shift to cloud computing taking a serious hold we’ll stop thinking about software and tools and start thinking about services.” I see ITIL service design and service delivery making a greater influence on Projects than it has in some areas in the past and I expected PMs to need to be more aware of ITIL than in the past. With better understanding of the service element of projects.

    With funds and project budgets still being squeezed I see project business cases coming under even greater scrutiny with more emphasis on the benefits realization plan and benefits realization review process. I am hopefully there will more effort directed to reviewing benefits achieved earlier and that funds will be directed to initiatives that show evidence of delivering a result while others are cancelled quicker.

    I also expect the Agile Project management approaches to mature over the next year with the DSDM consortium consolidating their position in this area. I particularly expect some more evidence of Agile PM and “traditional” PM working well together within service delivery programmes. Customer experience remains a high priority for business (in our case students) and the ability to deliver improved experience through new service programmes remains a high priority.

    I agree that we will invest more in change and that design flexibility will be key aspect of this with Agile Approaches influencing the expectation that projects can be more flexible in their approach.

    I wonder whether PMO tools will struggle in 2015. I expect greater scrutiny in the money spent in the PMO and some tools that are heavy on administration (Project Server?) may have difficulty justifying the expense. I agree that consolidation in this area is overdue.

    Paul Nicholson
    Hertfordshire University

    • Elizabeth Harrin says

      Paul, thanks for your insightful comments. I wish I did see more focus on benefits. I think it *should* be a trend but I don’t see much evidence of it. In fact, I see the opposite: more projects taking chances on business transformation without a clear view of benefits. Having said that, when I talk to senior managers about it they are happy that projects progress without that clear view because sometimes you need to take a chance on a new way of doing business, such as moving services online. Still, I share your hope that benefits realisation will be high on the agenda for 2015 and onward!


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