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  • Richard Blow

The top emerging Project Management trends in 2021.

And how to ensure your organisation is ahead of the game.

Just think of what project management looked like ten years ago. Fewer methodologies, less tools, smaller teams, and simpler projects. 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for companies around the world, affecting the way project management worked at a fundamental level. As remote work became the norm, many project management teams had to reinvent their collaboration methods.

As the old adage goes, “Change is the only constant.” It seems especially true for project management. The project management landscape is changing rapidly with evolving technologies, tools, and trends. And the pace of change is not slowing.

Here we share the top 6 project management trends that will shape 2021 and beyond, and help companies regain momentum.

1. Increased Reliance on Remote Work and Distributed Teams

One of the most visible changes in Project Management is the rise of digital and remote teams, necessitated by lockdowns the world over. Project management is no longer strictly bound to the confines of a typical office. While the prevalence of remote work was already on the climb, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented shift. There are some obvious challenges when working with virtual teams, but they can be resolved by creating a virtual environment that encourages contextual collaboration and by giving team members resources to independently solve the problems. Empowering teams by such ways will work wonders in virtual settings. Success of working with virtual teams depends heavily on these factors which can help Project Manager minimise unnecessary setbacks.

  • Use a centralised virtual workspace or online project management tool for collaboration and communication.

  • Use this workspace for planning and assigning tasks, sharing relevant digital assets, and engaging in real-time communication with virtual teams.

2. The Emergence of Hybrid Project Management Approaches

It’s true that not all projects are created equal and not all teams can stick to one specific methodology. Maybe that’s why the concept of hybrid project management has been gaining a lot of attention and the number of projects combining more than one methodology is increasing.

In the past, organisations used traditional and single project management frameworks to handle their projects. But these fast-paced times demand flexibility and agility. In recent years, organisations have become increasingly adaptable in their approaches, merging Agile methodologies like Kanban and Scrum with Lean and Six Sigma and creating hybrid approaches that are unique to the needs of their specific project or industry. With this hybrid approach managers will be pushed to upskill and learn more frameworks to adapt to the unique needs and demands of their projects. While there are advantages to using a single project management framework, organisations who hope to continue evolving should aim to become familiar with all the major methodologies.

3. Project Management Driving Change Management

The pandemic brought change management processes to the forefront as organisations struggled to embrace extensive change initiatives in a matter of days or weeks. A report by the International Project Management Association highlighted that only 30 percent of organisations feel that their capabilities in managing organisational change are effective.

In recent years, the role of project management in many organisations has expanded. Project management is now more than just a tool for carrying out discrete goals, the framework is also being applied to broader strategies and initiatives. It is through these projects and programs that change becomes actionable. Organisations are looking towards their project managers to drive change initiatives, such as digital transformation. Project managers can take on the responsibility of developing change management strategies as a part of a broader project plan.

4. Leveraging Automation and Artificial Intelligence for Project Management

As with virtually everything else, project management will be impacted by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and explosion of data collection and analysis that has characterised much of the 21st century. One impact of AI, for example, will likely be the automation of many administration focused tasks that currently fall to project managers. Project managers can use automation to perform complex tasks ranging from scheduling to data visualisation and make informed decisions based on the captured insights. These changes bear great potential. By automating low value-add tasks, project managers can focus their efforts and energy on completing tasks that most greatly benefit their organisation, allowing them to effect greater change and increase the likelihood of achieving the strategic goals of each project.

In 2020, larger-scale AI adoption was embraced by organisations to ensure successful project completion in several ways, such as:

  • Generating performance insights

  • Supporting the decision-making processes

  • Making estimates and predictions

  • Optimising resource scheduling

  • Enabling data visualisation

  • Performing risk analysis

5. Increasing Focus on Data Analytics

Organisations of all sizes generate copious amounts of data every day. Data analytics allows companies to leverage complex data into actionable insights to drive decisions. At high levels, data analytics helps teams determine how well different processes are working across multiple projects, informing their overarching approach. Data insights can also help managers with staffing needs by identifying weak links, examining workload across teams, and identifying which skill sets they should look for in new resources.

6. A Growing Emphasis on Soft Skills

2020/21 taught us empathy. While skills, talent, and proficiency are important factors to a team’s success, company leaders should put equal importance on cultivating human skills. Project managers need a certain level of analytical and organisational skills in order to be effective in their roles, but a project manager’s job does not end with the completion of project scope and budget documents. At the core of their work lies an understanding of people and how to manage them in a way that will yield the best results. It’s also important that project managers are armed with the right human skills to lead their teams. For this reason, possessing an effective array of “soft skills” can be equally as important as possessing the hard skills that are typically associated with the discipline. Empathy, trust, communication, teamwork, leadership, flexibility, are just some of the key human skills that will be demanded from leaders this year and beyond.

Is your organisation ready for growth and change in 2021 and beyond?

As we traverse the landscape of this pandemic, flexibility and resilience are the qualities organisations require to survive and to thrive. Change should be implemented by means of projects, which is why there are currently more projects than ever before. The topics of project management, portfolio management, resource management and PMO are more important than ever.

Most organisation do not have a plethora of project managers, data analyst and specialists just ‘hanging around’ waiting to jump in and drive change. This is where Performance Drivers can help.

We have a large team of Grey Haired Guru’s with proven success in their areas of expertise, and experience delivering measurable and sustainable outcomes. This network of highly skilled professionals possess:

  • subject matter expertise

  • practical, hands-on skills

  • experience applying their knowledge in a breadth of industries, and

  • understand the overall business environment.

Whether you need advice, have a short-term staffing need, or a complex and evolving project; we will work with you, to provide the professional technical, operational or management expertise you need, to get the work done and rapidly achieve results.



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