We often talk about generations or groups of people or skills sets in terms of the next wave. We know now that mobile technology is a must. A social presence, though still hard to quantify in terms of cost and benefit, is critical for every business. If you don’t have one or aren’t using it wisely, you’re already behind. And cloud computing…don’t get me started. While it’s really just doing everything via the internet (apps, storage, etc.) it still messes with people’s minds and it seems to be a mystery to many…including high-powered CEOs.
So what about project managers? Are the best practices today the same best practices that project managers will need to be following in the future? Will project management be the same 10 years from now as it is today? We create web-based project management software schedules now, but what will we be doing in the year 2020? What advances might we see? We expectations will change? Will there even be a project management discipline many years down the road and will it be online project management software we turn to or something entirely different? And will that matter?
These are legitimate questions. In fact, I’ve been asked nearly every one of these questions in some form or another at some time or another by at least one reader in the last 2-3 years. Project management of the future….where is it going and how much will it change?
I think there are some things about how we run our projects that just simply won’t change. How we do those things and the tools we use to get there may change – may even change drastically – but the main concept likely won’t change….at least from my perception. Things that I don’t see changing are the basics that need to be part of every project engagement: the kickoff meeting, the project status report, regular project status calls, team meetings, risk management, issues lists and risks lists, change order management, etc. etc. We’ll still create test plans, we’ll still perform user acceptance testing, and we’ll still deploy systems through a hopefully well-planned process. The basics won’t change. So what will change?
How they happen
What I see as potentials for change are these:
Project Management Offices (PMOs). Will we need these 10-20 years from now? I’ve seen them fail as often as they succeed. If they continue to exist, what will their structure be like? I think they serve a purpose - when correctly assembled and executed - but too many lack strong leadership and a good methodology which ultimately lead to them either failing or being irrelevant in the organization.
Project management vs. engagement management. As we are all asked to do more with less, I think we’ll see a much bigger movement toward engagement management vs. just project management. Gone will be the PM’s focus on daily project activities and running the project with project management software and excel spreadsheets. Yes, tools will be more detailed, but the focus of the PM will be broader – they will (or at least they should be allowed to) become much more of an engagement manager. Get PM involved very early on – allow them to be part of the deal closing, not just the project execution. Do this in order to properly set customer expectations, do this to get the best estimate of work and money and tasks possible, do this to have the best understanding of the resources needed to get the job done, and do this to get the project off and running with it’s best chance of success possible once the deal has been closed.
Call for input
What’s your take? What do you think will change in project management in the next few years and what do you think will just stay the same. We all know the software that we now use to manage projects is evolving – there’s no question about that. Where there use to be 3-4 players in the project management software marketplace there are now hundreds. Think bigger…what practices will change? What will the infrastructure of the PM organization need to be like in order to be successful?
Brad Egeland is an IT/Project Management consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is a married, Christian father of 7 living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.