Project management emerged in the mid-20 th century as the application of management methodologies was applied to various tasks — and it’s become an essential part of how technology and industry advances in our modern world.
As such, the future is bright for project management. According to a 2018 Jobs Report from the Project Management Institute, an estimated 22 million new project-oriented jobs will emerge over the next decade. While individual projects and products vary greatly, all sectors will need to transform in order to keep pace with a changing world.
As we look to some current and future trends in project management, it’s fitting that we turn to flexibility and change.
As with many disciplines, there’s no single reason that individuals pursue project management. Likewise, there’s no ideal project manager. Instead, we continue to see several key streams of entry into the field.
Their industries range from construction and manufacturing to information security and finance. Their actual job titles include manager, engineer, director, analyst, and coordinator. Some learners work as project managers already and simply want certified training to augment their on-the-job experience. For others, however, it offers a chance at change.
For instance, some project management learners are experienced professionals seeking a professional shift or new skills to re-enter the workforce. They might be leaving long-term military service or seeking employment after layoffs. Others see it as a means of increasing their position or value to their existing employers. Either way, project management is increasingly seen as a way for professionals to increase their value and change their course in the workforce.
According to GTPE Academic Director of Computing and IT Programs Jim Consuegra, few trends in project management are as pervasive as the shift toward agile frameworks. Agile began making waves in the 1970s and 80s favoring a speedier, sprint-based approach to project completion and product introduction.
Consuegra stresses that becoming agile doesn’t render methodologies like waterfall or Six Sigma obsolete. All industries will continue to depend on and benefit from these proven project management approaches. Intense market competition, however, has forced agility on many different development efforts. This trend, he suspects, will only continue.
“The agile mode or agile direction is imperative for the success of companies five to 10 years down the road,” Consuegra said. “Our world is evolving into the expectation of immediate satisfaction. We no longer have the luxury of taking seven years to develop a product. Instead, we have to produce it and bring it to market in short order or else the competition will beat us to the punch.”
Ironically, while project managers can help industries to navigate change, the implementation of an agile framework can itself result in a culture shock. In some sectors, it’s an abrupt shift from decades of waterfall thinking.
“The bottom line is that it's an evolution of the way we do business, and how it trends with the corporate culture that's accepting it.”
A new generation of so-called millennial project and product managers are bringing new values and approaches into the project management world and in turn helping to shift that culture.
While specific project management methodologies are valuable to different industries, it pays for managers to be aware of various industry trends.
Consuegra says that when people ask him which methodology they should learn, he always recommends the power of diversification.
“I always tell them — if I had a job opening right now for a PMP® or a Scrummaster® or a Six Sigma green or black belt, and an individual walked in with all three skill sets and certifications, then they'd be much more interesting to me,” Consuegra said. “Because they'd most likely know exactly what processes to initiate and which tool sets to apply in any specific challenge that we would face.”
Project management entails not only the management of processes, tool sets and systems but also people. As such, the idea of emotional intelligence continues to trend, along with “project management soft skills” that would include team communication, management, negotiation and much more.
Project management learners study tactics for deliberate communication. At the same time, they work to understand their own personal communication style and how it meshes with those of others.
A 2018 Emerging Trends for Effective Software Project Management Practices paper stressed the ability to identify and manage emotions — both in yourself and others — helps maintain a healthy and productive environment. It’s a key leadership attribute in a time of high demand for project managers with leadership skill.
As for the future of project management, digital tools will continue to evolve — and these tools will likely take more and more advantage of data provided by artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The combo could result in what Capterra describes as a “powerhouse of actionable information.”
“When you're talking more about strategies such as these and combining those with AI, the bottom line is that it's an evolution of the way we have and currently do business and how it trends with the corporate culture that's accepting the change,” Consuegra said. “So, even though AI is making its way into cloud-based models, it's still in its infancy and constantly maturing. There are obviously small pockets where these new concepts are being used effectively but in general, it is more of a rapidly ensuing future trend.”
For the learner, this means that technological advancements in AI will certainly change the tools of project management. But employers will continue to depend on human project managers to use them, to communicate with team members and find the place where employer expectations meet achievable goals.
Want to learn more about our Project Management programs? Check out our overview of learners we served last fiscal year.
Written by Robert Lamb