Where is Project Management headed?


A transformation is taking place in the project management domain with advances in technology and digital disruption.

Project management will not just be about managing projects to scope/time/$$, rather things like – how to infuse innovation, work with millennial and Gen Z who think differently, exactly meet customers’ expectations, at the same time compete with upcoming startups, etc., will call for new ways to manage projects. A structured, disciplined project management is still required to deliver great business outcomes but ways PMs manage project is bound to change to a large degree over upcoming years. Here are a few trends that I see reshaping project management in future.

1. Faster Execution (More Agile, less Waterfall):

Gone are days of year-long release cycles. For companies to just stay above water, they need to innovate, iterate and deliver products faster. This  means agile – shorter cycles from “Ideation” to Production. Customer involvement through the duration of project will become an imperative.

  • It’s not just enough to have business case on paper. Proving that the idea or business case works with quick prototypes in 1-2 weeks, testing with customers for feedback, and readjusting business case is a must. No ROI at the end of prototype testing, no project!
  • Release cycles in the form of beta/soft launch with limited high-priority features in the first 2-3 months, and then iterating based off customer feedback for final/hard launch will be new norm. Think 2-4 months to release major product/service.

With well-discussed strategy and Agile approach, most projects will be structured to succeed as customer is looped in all the way. Zero project failure in future.

2. Global PMing (Think Global, Act Global):

How do you work in Agile fashion when the team is not co-located, doesn’t necessarily speak the same language — is the challenge that companies need to solve.  Even though technologies like Google Hangout, Skye, Lync, Webex conference, etc., have solved managing and leading a globally dispersed team to a large degree, some challenges still remain. What this means to PM is that, he/she needs to be talking to team members across globe at varying time zones. The work time for PM will be redefined – extreme flexibility and potentially redefining weekends schedules might be called for.

Additionally, the trend of more contractors and freelancers on project teams is going to increase in years to come – much-needed to infuse new ideas, scale up, etc. How PMs manage IP while at the same time manage freelancers will be very important for project success.

According to Intuit, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers, contractors, and/or temporary employees by 2020.

Managing Diversity and leveraging employee strengths will be crucial to build and brand a stronger team environment.

3. PMs with play active role across all phases of project (Not just managing, but leading and executing):

Every PM will be required to have following basic hard-skills or expertise:

  • Customer Experience: What does it take to delight customers? What features are important to customer? We all need to be thinking about how to create an experience like Apple products. (When my kid was 3 yrs old, he did not even need a training to use/explore iPhone. That’s the beauty of Apple!)
  • Technology: PM will be required to come-in from a technology background having sound architecture skills, design skills and great understanding of SDLC methodologies. Staying ahead of the curve in disruptive technologies and brainstorming that with the team. Change is constant, so, PM (and every stakeholder on a project) should be thinking about how to best leverage changes in disruptive technologies and business models.
  • Business Consulting skills including research, data analysis, analytics, and such. Mobile and cloud will be must-have skills as most of the companies have defined or are defining strategies focused on mobile and cloud
  • Creative domain: Ability to understand Creative domain and able to actively contribute to areas like user journeys personas, information architecture, user experience, visual design, content strategy, taxonomy, etc.

I am not saying that PM will need to be an expert across all these areas, but someone having worked through variety of such projects will be better positioned to put the puzzle together to deliver great products/services. Also, PMs must know where to draw the line on their responsibilities and how to work together with relevant team members on above areas. To sum it up, PMs will have greater role in project deliverables.

4. More Cloud, More Mobile, Less desktop

Work will shift from desktop to cloud for better collaboration, to provide more visibility to teams, and for faster, efficient reporting. With millennials and Gen Z hooked onto mobile, a lot of future development will be ‘mobile first’ or ‘mobile only’.

5. Everyone associated to project will be Accountable and Customer is a Stakeholder!

Gone are the days of status report every Monday. Executive stakeholders and management are demanding real-time reporting and visibility of project. There will be accountability on every stakeholder to ensure project success. Customers wants to continually participate and help shape the outcome.

It’s good to see disruptive technology shaping up project management but don’t lose sight on human side of things. It’s a fine balance. Remember, it is all about people. People make great things!

What are your thoughts? What other areas will have profound impact on project management and what should the PMs do to succeed? Please pen your comments.


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