The future is simply defined as all that will happen in the time after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. At least, this is how Wikipedia defines it.
Since there is no going back, especially when it comes to business, we decided to explore the ways that project management is set to transform in days that come.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about changes is digital transformation and seeing how the latest technology – e.g. the cloud, AI, Big Data – can improve every industry there is.
But, don’t get all excited too soon. Many things will (probably forever) stay the same. Like all those essential areas: planning, reporting, measuring key metrics, assigning tasks, resource allocation, resource visibility, and resource optimization – they will all remain, the thing that will change is the tool that project managers use.
A not so fresh (but still very applicable) report on digitization, made by Booz&Co (now Strategy&) in 2011, identified a series of challenges for organizations brought by it.
Affordable wired and wireless broadband is quickly expanding to every single corner of the Earth, bringing digital access to billions of consumers.
If this was the conclusion 8 years ago, just imagine today’s span of this phenomena. What came out of it is that consumers, as well as the employees, expect to be connected at all times. Also, it somewhat shifted the perspective on individuals’ willingness to share everything – digitization had a huge impact on the long-held negative attitude on data privacy.
But it is not just technology that leads the way through these new changes. Rapid urbanization has a lot to do with shifting the world’s economic balance toward the east and south. New markets are emerging and by their predictions a new consumer class will be created by 2015. This new group will count as many as four billion people. When compared to one billion consumers in 1990, only one conclusion is possible – the struggle is real.
Almost half of those 4 billion consumers will live in the emerging world’s cities, set to inject estimated US$25 trillion into the global economy!
It’s crystal clear by now that the economy is changing, prompting more and more globalization. As a result, we’ll have a shift in investment from Western countries towards developing countries.
What is crucial in this new set of the game?
Personnel with the right capabilities and competencies to respond quickly to changing circumstances will be critical to success of modern companies.
In other words, we need (now more than ever) functional leaders who can be involved in defining, building, and maintaining the organization’s means and potential. And, to truly be a functional leader, one must clearly understand the company’s overall value proposition, its capabilities to fulfill it, and the role their function plays.
However, besides capable and changes-adaptable leaders, what we’ll need to support even more is the development of culture of collective knowledge and sharing between industries. Even though some say that individual knowledge is a thing of the past (we do not agree, just for the record), we wouldn’t dismiss it just yet. So, keep on getting better and better as the professional individual.
Next game-changer in line is a shift from traditionally imposed Western world culture to countries with a growing economy. Cultures are merging and this new trend creates the urge to get better at what you are doing. There are no more safe positions and everyone must work on their personal growth to contribute to collective expertise.
Today’s employees are connected through social media and the Internet, they are keen communicators in both business-related and personal communities, and motivated to collaborate and mentor others in valued virtual and face-to-face teams.
Basically, we are all socially and globally engaged in a world where boundaries disappear and cultures merge.
These new generations are very comfortable in agile environments; they are less risk averse and expect quicker results than the old generations.
Still, the individual and collective are intertwining once again, until the better one wins over. Because they are more independent, new generations do not feel bound by company structures and they insist on being empowered. And exactly because of that, old school managers often see them as not collaborative or team oriented.
And that is not the case. The trick is in fine-tuning, compromising, improvising and stepping into somewhat hidden and unknown landscapes.
Besides globalization and a shift in what is required of human capital, there are a few more things around the corner that will determine the future of project management.
Coping with Complexity
The size and volume of projects, the number of stakeholders involved in the project, and the ambiguity of their expectations – these are all factors of an increasing uncertainty every project deals with. On top of all that, we have also technological developments, regulatory changes, competitive moves, and changing customer requirements as other factors of the instability of the success.
- Collaborative methods will increase and develop further more.
- Standardization, modularization and integrating tools will proliferate
- Big data, simulation, and statistical analysis tools will augment
- Systemic approaches will be increasingly demanded
Women in Project Management
The number of women in managing and leading projects will increase. Hallelujah!
This will lead to a change in how projects are managed in the future. Susceptible to change is leadership style, communication style, meeting style, team composition and development, and the cooperation culture when people are dealing with complexity, coping with challenges and risks.
What will drive this trend is a gender-specific education, motivation, training and development opportunities as well as the lack of qualified male specialists particularly in the aging societies.
Projectification of Societies
Projectification of societies is defined as the degree of diffusion of project management in all sectors of the societies.
This means that an increasing share of our gross national product and an increasing share of our time are spent financing and enacting projects in all kinds of industries.
The time and money spent on projects as well as the amount of economic, cultural and social benefits and losses caused by projects – are all clean and measurable indicators of this trend.
As a result, we have more and more sectors of societies implementing the methodologies of project management for solving their complex unique tasks. Project Management will become a basic competence for everybody: not only engineers and managers will be supposed to know the techniques, but also professionals that have no contact with project management today like in the health or education sector.
Project management will become elaborate and more diversified as the post-industrialization of the societies will create more complex tasks and new technologies will enable and create new forms of collaboration.
Universities should definitely offer more project management programs and training, as well as make them more complex and closer to reality.
- There should be more opportunities for students to participate in internships that give them an opportunity to lead business projects outside of the classroom. We are talking about the real world. This throw-them-to-lions kind of approach will be extremely beneficial for future leaders.
- Universities should volunteer and join professional project management organizations and compete on virtual projects.
- They should develop a better-rounded curriculum that is balanced between teaching technical skills and soft skills.
- Require all business schools to include at least one project management course across their degree programs.
Let’s take it from here and see where are we heading, shall we? The future is coming, either way, why not prepare ourselves for it?