Four Key Digital Project Management Trends to Consider for 2018

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In this special guest feature, Nigel Kirkman, Associate Director, Digital Delivery and Transformation at Virtusa, discusses how the project management landscape in 2018 (including with respect to big data) may appear different as clients, stakeholders, businesses, government and environmental expectations ultimately change. To gain clarity, he offers four trends that could reshape project management in the coming year. Nigel is a Digital Program Manager with over 20 years’ experience in all stages of the project life cycle. He has led complex projects of tactical or strategic importance from initiation through to benefits realization and demonstrates extensive experience of building high performing teams that deliver tangible business benefit in both the public and private sectors. He has excellent stakeholder management skills and he regularly worked at executive level reporting in to steering committees and project sponsors.

The project management landscape for 2018 may appear different as clients, stakeholders, businesses, government and environmental expectations ultimately change. There has traditionally been a strong demand for technical skills and PM certifications but this does not always guarantee success.

Because of changes made to business practices, requirements and expectations, there is currently a transformation taking place in the project management world that is putting a sharper focus on the people, processes and technologies needed to successfully execute projects.

As a result, here are four trends that could reshape project management in 2018.

Trend 1: Emotional intelligence

To succeed as a project manager in 2018, having soft skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) has become imperative. Project management interfaces largely with people who are impacted to great extents by interactions with other people. Skills including the ability to resolve conflict, deal with ambiguity, diplomacy and confidentiality will come more to the forefront as more projects are globally implemented, transcending language and cultural barriers in the process. The project manager increasingly needs to channel emotions for solving problems and for thinking to develop positive and constructive ways to address issues as they arise. The reason why EQ as an attribute is gaining emphasis is that these capabilities drive better engagement, reduce turnover, and improve productivity and loyalty which directly translates into better profitability for businesses.

Trend 2: PM certifications will lose value

Demand for certifications, including PMP and PRINCE2-certified professionals, in the project management domain has traditionally been strong. These certifications though come at a cost and can take a long time to acquire and longer to master. These certifications also need to align with the delivery strategy and can reduce agility if not sufficiently robust and flexible to support the business demands. There is a new question in town which asks whether they have an equivalent value however considering companies prefer professionals who display efficient project management skills rather than certified professionals.

Trend 3: Blended methodology

Widespread interest in agile delivery is causing a review of existing delivery methodologies. Increasingly, companies are finding there is not a one size fits all option and require adopting a blended methodology derived from various aspects of Agile, Scrum or Waterfall to deliver results. They do not want to waste time in debating the methodology but are driven by a blended approach that delivers improved project success ratios.

Trend 4: Accountability and social responsibility

Profit has always been regarded as the most important driver, but increasingly people and business want to do business with companies that conduct themselves in ways that are ethical, socially responsible and accountable. Projects are no exception. They are impacted by and should be carefully monitored and measured in ways that ensure they meet with legislative, legal, environmental, tax and reporting, and socially responsible requirements. Control mechanisms need to include safeguards that ensure accountability is at the forefront to protect stakeholders, clients and the public as it applies to the project activities and outcomes.

In summary, the project management trends are showing a shift from heavy reliance on pure certification based competencies. It is not expected that they will be replaced completely but as companies are challenged by increased transparency and the need to conduct themselves in a socially responsible way there is a new focus on project management skills and capabilities to ensure accountability is clearly evidenced. The need for blended delivery has been evident for some time now but increasingly emotional intelligence is gaining emphasis as a core Project Management capability to drive better engagement, reduce turnover, and improve productivity and in doing so translate into a greater potential for project success and better profitability for businesses.

These four trends are forecast to increase and continue to influence the project management landscape for 2018 as clients, stakeholders, businesses, government and environmental expectations ultimately change.


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  1. I like your point of view! Lately I came across another article on trends in project management, I think you’ll find it very interesting: . It shares some of your ideas as well. Hope yoou’ll enjoy it!