5 Project Management Trends

Project management is having to adapt to constant change in the global business environment, brought on by technological advancement and digital disruption as well as societal, political, economic and environmental factors. Customer and stakeholder expectations, supply chains, budgets and target market potentials shift rapidly. Innovation and resilience are necessary for project management success in these times of change.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) offers an online MBA program with a Project Management Specialization. The program emphasizes innovation and management of organizational change from the project management perspective. Yet study also focuses on tried and true project management methods, giving students the knowledge and skills they need to integrate the old and the new in the most effective ways possible. Understanding these trends and their application to specific projects is key to success in modern project management.

Project Management Defined

The Project Management Institute (PMI) calls a project “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Each project has a beginning and end, as well as a scope and allotted resources.

The traditional project management process involves initiating or defining the project, planning, executing the plan, monitoring progress and closing the project at completion. The project manager organizes the team, oversees the process, maintains alignment with requirements and goals, and ensures the project is completed on time and on budget.

Here are five project management trends in today’s era of technological advancement and disruption:

  1. Embracing Change and Organizational Agility

PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2020 found that “organizational agility” topped the list of factors executive leaders think will be most important in the future. Most of these executives also “place a high priority on building a culture receptive to change.” Innovation will drive success in rapidly changing competitive markets. The ability to try, fail, learn and move on quickly is essential to agile project management.

  1. Hybrid Approaches to Project Management

While not new, more adaptable, responsive project management approaches like those spawned from the “agile” framework are seeing integration into traditional models. These hybrid approaches center around rapid development and iterative, incremental deliverable releases with constant customer input and feedback cycles to inform further releases. Yet a wholly iterative approach does not work for every type of service or product; hence the need for hybrid approaches designed to meet the specific requirements of each project.

  1. Technology Quotient (AI, Automation and Data)

Many of the processes involved with project management are shifting toward developing technologies based in data analysis, dedicated software, automation and AI. As PMI’s report states, “to maximize the benefits of disruptive technologies, project professionals must embrace how AI and game-changing tools can empower them for the future.”

This shift can free up time and resources while increasing project management efficiency and agility in adapting to change. Thus, project managers must develop their technology quotient (TQ) to keep ahead of the curve.

  1. Tools for Project Management Optimization

An emerging aspect of expanding this technology quotient is developing a facility with dedicated project management software and SaaS. Specialized programs can synthesize project design input and data and streamline processes to maximize efficiency while giving project managers real-time data on progress and feedback. In addition, SaaS systems can facilitate improved collaboration and communication across the various components of the project team.

  1. Remote Teams

Collaborative software and internal communications systems have also grown the potential of project personnel working remotely. These capabilities are essential to projects incorporating team members from different organizations and geographies. Plus, remote work can save on overhead and allow for more scheduling flexibility.

Modern project management requires advanced technological knowhow and adaptability. But the basic precepts of the field remain the same: plan, execute and complete a defined project within a given time frame and budget. Interpersonal skills are still essential to the profession. With AI, project management software and SaaS handling more administrative tasks, the project manager’s role is even more that of a leader.

Students in SIUE’s PM-focused Master of Business Administration program acquire the skills for effective project management and managerial decision-making. Specialization electives include Project Management Fundamentals and Best Practices and Project Procurement and Risk Management.

Learn more about SIUE’s online MBA program with a Project Management Specialization.


Association for Project Management: What Is Agile Project Management?

Finances Online: 8 Latest Project Management Trends & Forecasts for 2020/2021 You Should Know

PMI: Pulse of the Profession 2020

PMI: Ahead of the Curve – Forging a Future-Focused Culture

PMI: What Is Project Management?

PMI: The Role of Design Thinking in Project Leadership

ProofHub: Project Management Trends (2020): What Does the Future Look Like

Wrike: Project Management Basics

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