4 Trends in Project Management to Look out for in 2018

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Posted on Tuesday, 7th November, 2017 - 10:51

We may look back on 2017 as a benchmark year for project management. PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession showed that organizations wasted 20% less money on projects than in 2016. How will the industry build on this success and improve on its shortcomings? Here are four trends to look out for.

  1. Emphasis on soft skills

Emotional intelligence has been overlooked for a long time. How long? A Study of Engineering Education addressed this problem back in 1918! On page 106, it lists the personal qualities that the engineering profession valued. They were:

  • Common sense
  • Integrity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Initiative
  • Tact
  • Thoroughness
  • Accuracy
  • Efficiency
  • Understanding of men

These qualities were “universally recognized as being no less necessary to a professional engineer than are technical knowledge and skill.” Despite that, the report complains that engineering schools over-emphasize scientific knowledge and practice. A hundred years ago, teachers promoted many standards, but no soft skills.

Does this sound familiar? Because it seems like project management is facing the same problem. Best practices have evolved, but the human interaction side of it is treated as an afterthought. This is a big problem, because project management is all about team work. Given that this problem is at least a hundred years old, don’t expect a solution in 2018. But we’ll probably see companies do more to develop emotional intelligence.

  1. Blended methodologies

One in five of the projects surveyed in PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession used an agile approach. That’s not surprising considering the rising popularity of agile. What may be surprising is that another one in five used a blended/hybrid approach. We’re seeing more companies tailor methodologies for the best fit.

PMI and the other standards organizations have preached this for years. The PMBOK Guide aims to promote better projects, not itself. Project managers who tailor to the work environment have always outperformed the dogmatists. That said, hopefully managers will recognize why blending is on the rise. For work environments that use PMBOK Guide terms and processes, change for the sake of being “hybrid” could end up being disruptive.

  1. Investment in Project Management Offices (PMOs)

PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession looked at PMOs. In the last 10 years, organizations with a PMO increased by 10%. We’re also seeing a rise in enterprise-wide project management offices (EPMOs). The recognition for PMOs and EPMOs increases each year. Managers now see the value of standardizing the way they run projects. PMI reports these benefits for companies who align their EPMO with company strategy:

  • 38% more projects meet their original goals and business intent
  • 33% fewer projects are deemed failures

EPMOs can codify the terminology, documents, and processes used. That might make them look rigid, but the opposite is often true. In fact, it’s easier to make adjustments to the PMBOK Guide when you have a holistic view of how everyone works. EPMOs offer consistency. That can mean stagnation, but it can also mean effective change. EPMOs can be the difference between adopting agile practices and making half-hearted attempts to be agile.

  1. More job openings

In 2013, PMI estimated there’ll be 15.7 million new project management roles by 2020. In 2017, they massively raised this projection. Now they say that by 2027, 11 countries will need 87.7 million people working in project management. That’s great news for current and aspiring project managers. The downside is that demand will outstrip supply. With a gap in the talent these countries need, they could lose $207.9 billion in GDP.

CAPM and PMP-qualified talent is already in high demand. In 2018 and beyond, the demand looks to keep climbing. Rapidly developing economies like China and India can’t afford to miss out on these skills. That also goes for established superpowers like the US. In 2017, its healthcare industry had a 17% growth in project oriented jobs. To join this in-demand talent market, see our list of accredited courses.