7 Technology Project Management Trends and Predictions for 2019
As the old saying goes, “The only constant is change.” And nowhere does that sentiment seem to hold more truth than in the field of technology and the projects that implement technology.
The biggest shaping trends in technology project management that I see for the year 2019 are:
- Approaches will be more tailored to projects.
- Skills will start to be more important than certifications.
- Remote working will continue to increase.
- Stronger focus on the benefits of projects.
- Cloud acceptance in all industries.
- Attitude regarding data privacy and security is changing.
- Growth of the project manager’s influence and responsibility.
Approaches will be more tailored to projects
For decades, executives believed that the best way to control project management from the top floor of the building was to create a single project management methodology that could be applied to all projects.
But with an increasing demand for flexibility to adapt and roll with the punches, organizations will move away from pre-set and rigid project management approaches.
Project managers should have always been making the best methodology choices for their projects, but some organizations didn’t lend themselves to doing so.
Now, those organizations will embrace tailoring in a way that forces project managers to make more choices about how to best run their project.
This shift means that project managers will have to lean on their own critical-thinking skills and professional judgment more than ever before.
Many organizations are already witnessing the positive impact of giving project managers room to customize their own methodologies.
Skills will start to be more important than certifications
While certifications will still hold some importance—especially for more traditional employers—they may no longer act as the be-all and end-all for landing project management roles.
A credential like the PMP certification is a valuable asset to boost your pay packet and demonstrate your expertise, but experience and skills—particularly technical and leadership skills—will carry far more weight with employers than they did in the past.
I am of the opinion that, in order to lead a strategic technology project, you need:
- to understand technology
- to understand the business
- to have project management skills
- to have leadership skills
Most certifications only look at project management skills, and only by testing whether or not you can memorize a book. With agile certifications it is even worse—you only have to memorize 20-something pages.
Project managers that are able to learn and adapt by working and thinking flexibly are the ones that are going to be the most successful at delivering projects. When it comes down to it, the foreseeable future is going to have a need for project managers that are comfortable walking across shifting sands.
Remote working will continue to increase
The International Workspace Group (IWG) found that 70 percent of the world’s workers work remotely at least once a week. Remote working is becoming more and more commonplace, so we expect to see project managers adopt it in greater numbers in 2019. Although project management offices (PMOs) will continue to grow in popularity, it’s very likely they won’t all be physical offices.
Not being bound to a workplace, whether as a permanent employee or a contractor, helps workers become more adaptable and blend their work and home lives together in a way that suits them.
Project managers will benefit from having access to a much wider team candidate pool without having to manage offices abroad or travel frequently. Having the freedom to hire around the world will require them to maintain high standards of visibility and communication for their teams.
In addition, the role of project manager will become more flexible and remote working will become more widely adopted.
While a team of curated staff is ideal, if that team’s members operate in different time zones and/or different languages, it brings its own new challenges. A great deal of scheduling and performance tracking is needed to keep a project on track when that project is dispersed around the globe.
A stronger focus on the benefits of projects
Competitive pressures and the volatility and uncertainty of the operating environment are feeding an increasingly competitive atmosphere in the marketplace. Technology in particular is creating winners and losers. Senior executives are on the lookout for anything that may provide a competitive edge.
Blockchain? Big data? Internet of Things? 5G? Artificial intelligence? It’s a bit like ‘project fear’, because nobody wants to miss the next big thing and get left behind.
When commissioning projects that are intended as transformative or that make a lot of promises, there is now a heightened need for results that really measure up against what was envisioned.
Organizations are going to want more return on investment from project spend.
It used to be that ‘on time and on budget’ was the universal standard by which to measure whether a project was a success. However, this is no longer the case. The coming year is going to continue to see a requirement for projects to deliver results which support the long-term strategic goals of the organizations that commission the projects.
Cloud acceptance in all industries
Forget internal servers; the cloud is the panacea. While you can’t reduce the discussion to this simple phrase, it is a fact that more and more companies are switching to systems in the cloud. And sooner rather than later.
The fears of not being able to reach the system at a critical moment, insufficient performance, and external unauthorized data access seem to have relaxed somewhat.
Of course, there are industries that don’t want to rely on cloud-based server solutions due to extreme secrecy, but they are fast becoming the minority. Many banks, insurers and auditors have already made the switch, and even the Pentagon has joined the cloud revolution.
The attitude regarding data privacy and security is changing
Regarding data security, those responsible in the organization are beginning to understand one thing: The biggest security hole is not technology but man. Successful hacker attacks on the server infrastructure of Microsoft, for example, are less likely to occur than data piracy committed by a disappointed employee.
Regarding data privacy, GDPR and related laws will continue to play a big role in technology projects. Also, the scrutiny on companies like Google and Facebook when it comes to their handling of data privacy will have a continued impact.
The growth of the project manager’s influence and responsibility
The organizational structure of many companies is now becoming less hierarchical. That is why often project managers take on part of the responsibilities of middle and executive managers.
Among the many tasks carried out by a project manager, strategic thinking is becoming one of the most critical.
Project managers will continue to be the leaders and managers who manage the creation of value, drive change, and are responsible not only for financial results but also for the vision of the project.
It’s clear that these trends, considered in a historical context, are part of a running narrative that has been evolving over the last few years. In truth, there is nothing really new here.
But what is clear is that these trends all tie together and make sense as they support two central ideas:
- Project management is being shaped by the problems that need to be solved and not the other way around.
- Projects drive change, and change drives projects.
Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of the author
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