Seven top Project Management trends

An article by Charles Orton –Jones looks at emerging global PM trends

1. Dedicated project management office. ( PMO )

101Amateur PM is over, now you need to be a PM professional. In 2015, London held it first PMO summit.

Richard Goold at Moorhouse comments ” More and more organisations have developed a level of in-house project portfolio management capability in recognition that the need for these skills is unlikely to go away.”

2. Crowdsourcing ideas

Project managers are expert at co-ordinating other people’s ideas. Wazoku Idea Spotlight is software which allows companies such as Waitrose to create a hub where staff can contribute ideas, innovation and feedback. Stuart Eames, operational improvement manager at Waitrose, says: “The success of our Partner Ideas scheme goes to show that sometimes the truly great innovations can be as simple as making small changes to the tasks you do every day, rather than the big ideas which transform everything. By engaging our partners with the right platform and process, we’ve managed to achieve significant productivity and financial savings.”

3. Big data

This term refers to an emerging technology which uses algorithms to search for patterns in huge amounts of data. According to Wikipedia “Big data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate” It is typically used by big business to help them achieve operational improvements and make quicker, more intelligent decisions. Now project managers are using the concept to help with their planning and look for potentially hidden correlations.
Alex McMullan, field chief technology officer of Pure Storage comments “I’ve seen many project managers use big data techniques, text analytics, numerical correlations and frequency analysis in order to identify the best times to plan milestones or schedule maintenance.” He recommends PMs learn to use the technique –it may be a very important trend.

4. Move to Agile

Agile is gaining in popularity. It values speed over perfection, and relies on fixes “on the hoof “rather than aiming for perfection prior to a project launch.

Darren Thorp, agile delivery manager for Ordnance Survey, says: “Agile software delivery has gained much popularity due to the need for faster and more responsive cycle times, and the move towards a less contractual and more collaborative way of working between the technology teams and the business.” He says that this should be one of an armoury of tools used by Project managers, allowing for different approaches on different projects.

5. End of email

Email strings can get messy and difficult to follow. It’s easy to miss a reply that is “nested “with the rest of the string. Editing is impossible, as is inviting new people to join the conversation. There are better tools available now such as Slack, Yammer, Salesforce Chatter and Flowdock . Benjamin Dyer of software house Powered Now says: “The solution was Flowdock, a unified business-wide chat and inbox. I think it’s fair to say it has changed our lives. Flowdock is our central hub. We have separate chatrooms for engineering, sales, marketing and even a room entitled Coffee Machine for just chewing the fat. A lot of jokes and images tend to get posted there. Each room also has its own e-mail address. This means a lot of the transactional mail – customer support requests, new user registrations, et cetera – can be stored in a central place, viewable by everyone rather than in individual in-boxes.”

6. Entrepreneurial project managers

Today’s PM needs to be able to think on their feet, and deal with demands that are outside formal planning. They need the ability to improvise and respond to unusual and unexpected situations. Staff with these entrepreneurial skills are in demand in many functions, not just PM, in today’s fast moving world.

CEB practice manager Matt McWha advises that “Companies need to position project management career paths as a good platform for building the skills and experiences needed for success in different leadership positions”

7. Gamification

According to Wikipedia, Gamification primarily refers to a process of making systems, services and activities more enjoyable and motivating.  For example Call centres use gamification to give rewards to agents, who can win bonus points for handling a high level of calls per hour.

Paul Cackett, chief executive of Playth1ng and founder of collaboration tool, says: “I’m sure that in the next three years we’ll start to see more research done between organisations globally with incentives to take part. “Think of a scenario in science where research is necessary to solve world problems. For example, someone researching drought-resistant plants might know everything there is to know about biology, but not how the greenhouse technology could help him to replicate scenarios. They could invite technologists in the fields of engineering, aviation – sectors where heat exchange is well understood – to contribute in return for revenue on the eventual developed product.”

Which of these approaches will be successful in project management and become one of the strongest emerging trends? Only time will tell!