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5 Trends Changing the Role of Project Manager

5 Trends Changing The Role Of The Project Manager, Project Management Blog
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Project management is constantly evolving, driven by new technology, new business models, and a changing workforce. The duties and responsibilities of the project manager are evolving as well. Here are five ways to prepare.

Project management has long been the linchpin of the workplace and with technology rapidly changing, a good project manager is now more critical than ever. Today’s project managers do more than oversee a few task lists. They collaborate with multiple people, teams, and vendors. They create value by navigating complex, comprehensive projects and requirements.

Here are five trends that are changing the role of the modern project manager.

Contents

A Younger Workforce

Technology isn’t the only field in which there’s a growing talent shortage. According to research from the Project Management Institute, employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million project-oriented positions on an annual basis through to 2027. If they fail to do this, the talent gap could result in a potential loss of approximately $207.9 billion.

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Older project managers are retiring, making way for a new generation of professionals. There has also been a “dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills,” notes PMI. That means more jobs in more fields – and different roles, as well.

AI Playing a Bigger Role

We are still decades away from an era where artificial intelligence (AI) will overtake human intelligence. There are some who doubt such a day will ever come at all.

Artificial intelligence is enjoying a renaissance. But rather than replacing human workers, it exists to augment their skills and capabilities. Project management is no different, and artificial intelligence stands to make the project manager’s job more streamlined than ever before.

You know from experience that prioritization of tasks and allocation of resources is one of the most logistically nightmarish parts of your job. I’ll wager you’re also keenly aware of how much time you spend on record keeping and clerical tasks. And sifting through analytics data is always a headache.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone could take care of all that for you in a matter of minutes?

That’s what artificial intelligence promises to do – indeed, what it’s already doing- for the profession.

Unstructured data generated by the day-to-day activities of project members can be fed into an analytics tool, resulting in greater project visibility and deeper insights into performance, and workflows. This will allow a project manager to better direct the efforts of their team members, identifying pain points and opportunities for efficiency.  Perhaps more importantly, tasks such as daily reporting, progress tracking, and budgeting can be streamlined through automation, freeing up the project manager’s time.

As projects become increasingly complex, the efficiency of AI will be more than a convenience. It will become a necessity.  There will be enough working parts and team members that a single project manager – even several project managers – may have trouble keeping up.

Journeys, Not Projects

Years ago, projects had a clearly defined endpoint. Once you reached your targeted launch, you were done. Sure, you might revisit the project every now and then to release a new version, but for all intents and purposes, your path from start to finish was more or less set in stone.

That’s no longer the case.

Today’s projects, rather than being static and unchanging, are more like living things. They’re dynamic entities with the potential to rapidly change shape and scope. They’re processes that demand a new, more flexible approach – one that combines the traditional “waterfall” methodology with “agile” development.

“Often, particular situations or environments require a special combination of methods.” writes Johann Strauser of The Project Group. “It is always better to find a tailored solution for every individual project (as in our examples above) than an externally imposed approach.”

Variation and Diversification

As the project manager’s role increases in scope, so too do the skills required. You’ve likely noticed it within your own organization, or at least within your industry. Businesses are placing an ever-increasing emphasis on people.

Now more than ever, you must understand people just as well as you understand projects.

That in itself isn’t terribly new, of course. Project managers have always been leaders, coaches, and mitigators in one way or another. What has changed is a focus on emotional intelligence. It’s no longer enough to understand what your team members can do.

You have to understand how they feel, as well.  You need to be able to relate to people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. To find common ground between people for which it appears, at first glance, as though there is none.

 

That aside, the growing array of different tools and platforms available for project managers demands you constantly update your skill set,

The Internet of Things

I’ve saved perhaps the most disruptive trend for last. The Internet of Things (IoT) is entering the business world. Combined with artificial intelligence, it’s driving a hyper connected workplace in which project managers can empower themselves with faster reporting tools, deeper insights, better process management, and more extensive collections of project data than they imagined possible.

At the same time, it’s not without its challenges. The security pitfalls of the aforementioned hyper connectivity are well-documented. Moreover, project managers will be required to navigate a minefield of potential legal, ethical, and privacy concerns.

Latest Trends in The Project Management Space

  1. Remote Project Management: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote project management tools and practices. Even as restrictions eased, many organizations continued to embrace remote and hybrid work models, leading to a sustained focus on virtual project management and collaboration.
  2. Agile and Hybrid Approaches: Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban remained dominant in software development and beyond. Hybrid project management, which combines agile and traditional approaches, gained popularity as organizations sought flexibility.
  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML were being integrated into project management tools to automate repetitive tasks, analyze data for insights, and improve project forecasting and decision-making.
  4. Data-Driven Project Management: Project managers increasingly relied on data analytics and dashboards to track key performance indicators (KPIs), assess project health, and make informed decisions.
  5. Remote Team Collaboration Tools: Collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom evolved to offer more robust features for remote project teams, including task management, file sharing, and video conferencing.
  6. Emphasis on Cybersecurity: With the rise in remote work, project managers paid greater attention to cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive project data and ensure the integrity of remote project environments.
  7. Sustainability and Green Project Management: Sustainability considerations were integrated into project management practices, with a growing focus on reducing environmental impact and promoting green initiatives.
  8. Blockchain in Project Management: Blockchain technology was explored for its potential in enhancing project transparency, security, and the management of contracts and transactions.
  9. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): RPA was employed to automate routine project tasks and streamline project workflows, leading to greater efficiency and reduced errors.
  10. Resilience and Risk Management: Given the unpredictable nature of the global business landscape, there was an increased emphasis on risk management and building project resilience to unforeseen disruptions.
  11. Customer-Centric Project Management: Project managers were increasingly focused on aligning projects with customer needs and expectations, aiming to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  12. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives: Organizations integrated DEI considerations into project management to foster inclusivity and diversity among project teams and stakeholders.

How much monitoring of a team member is acceptable?

What checks and balances are in place to prevent a cascading system failure stemming from a single mistake?

What controls are in place to protect sensitive data and ensure your business does not run afoul of regulators?

These aren’t questions project managers traditionally had to ask themselves – but the IoT will require you to answer them.

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