We live in a fast-moving world, in which change is the only constant. Companies are in an unrelenting race to remain relevant through continuous innovation. Organisational change is accelerating and being driven, in particular, by digital transformation agendas. Delivering new projects is a key way in which organisations meet these strategic challenges. As conductors of the project orchestra, project managers play an important role in unlocking this value. The role of the project manager is consequently becoming more and more crucial to organisation’s ability to evolve and remain relevant.
With the number of disruptions occurring around technology and business services, speed and flexibility have become critical success factors, not only to the project orchestra, but to the organisation as a whole. Disruption is not limited by industry or business function and as organisations grapple with the (varying degrees of) change, project managers need to be aware of potential disruption within the project management environment itself. To ensure a sustainable value add, project managers must continue to meet increasing business demands while also anticipating and leveraging change within their own environment.
Three underlying factors have the potential (and to some extent have already begun) to drive disruption within the project management environment. As project managers, it is important to be aware of what these are and how they impact (or assist) your role:
1. Client competition:
Digital transformation and disruption is resulting in an increased rate of change (across all industries), allowing for new business opportunities and driving industry competitiveness. Organisations are being forced to change to keep up with competitors. Greater demands are already being placed on project teams to successfully deliver meaningful value to ensure sustainable change and return on investment.
2. Artificial intelligence:
The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is certain to result in new metadata, improved data suitability, and greater data quality and reliability. AI will provide a sound knowledge base and deliver meaningful project advice and support to project managers. More and more administrative tasks will be automated.
3. The “Gig” economy:
The growing shift away from permanent employment, with companies tending to hire niche contractors and freelancers will influence project team composition. Specialised but temporary jobs and the use of contracting options is likely to become the norm.
Industry competition, access to effective resourcing and new tools will begin to redefine how project managers conduct their orchestras. The pace, along with complexity, is likely to ramp up as the various disruptors begin to take effect. Based on the disruptors listed above the project management industry is likely to begin to see the emergence (or gain in traction) of the following trends:
1. New project definitions:
Projects are becoming more complex and wider reaching across organisations. Delivery timeframes are becoming tighter with increased pressure to unlock value as soon as possible. The rapid results delivery trend is a contributing factor to the current shift towards agile methodologies. The adoption of agile is likely to accelerate, and agile approaches will not remain confined to the realm of software development environments.
The definition of project success will continue to shift further from time and budget focus towards a more customer value and return on investment focus.
2. Changing team structures:
The demand for faster results and trend towards using specialised expertise to enable this, coupled with the emergence of the “Gig” economy, is already having an impact on the makeup of project teams.
Improving AI capabilities along with other improvements in team management tools will limit the need for lower level skill sets, while at the same time improve the efficiency of remote teams.
Team structures are therefore certain to change with a shift towards more remote multidisciplinary teams consisting of key specialists supported by AI and other tools.
3. Tooling updates:
AI and general technology improvements are likely to drive the emergence of new project management tools. New tools are already enabling improved team communication and collaboration, but AI and Big Data advances are likely to take this a step further and start enabling smart decision making from project managers.
Along with new tooling capabilities will come greater expectations to leverage these tools to enable faster and more efficient delivery.
4. Evolving skill focus:
Project demands are increasing and with projects becoming more complex. Managing the “human issues” within projects will become more important. Skills relating to change management, relationship-building and stakeholder influence are likely to become critical to project success.
The shift in focus towards adding value (as opposed to meeting budget and timelines) will push project managers to display a broader set of skills, primarily focused at strategic and personal levels.
The project management environment is changing, and disruption is likely to further accelerate this change. To sustain change and remain relevant, companies need to understand these changes and how the role of the project manager is evolving.
As the conductors of the project orchestra, project managers themselves need to understand how their working environment is likely to change. They need to ensure that they continue to upskill themselves in key strategic areas to ensure that they can lead the delivery of value that the business demands.
Exciting times lie ahead for the for the project management industry. If this is an area you need some assistance with, please get in touch. We’re always happy to discuss your specific project management requirements to identify areas where we can make an impact to your business.