As we kick off 2022, COVID-19 saga with its novel variants continues to throttle traditional working environment and challenges organizations to explore new ways to sustain and required them to adapt to changes in technological, economic and social domains. Project Management Landscape is of no exception and this volatile situation have presented both challenges and opportunities to project based organizations and its employees.
Here are some highlights of the most impactful changes Organizations and Project Management Professionals face in 2022 and beyond and top skills in demand that to counter them:
#1 Rise of Remote Work space Demands Virtual Leadership Skills
The Wuhan Virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past and has led to structural shift in project team’s workplace. Despite the array of issues raised due to remote working in the beginning of 2020, soon the organizations understood both the advantages and limitations of letting the employees work from home.
Organizations broadened the options and identified the right mix of remote and office-based work based on need of job to counter the limitations while reaping the benefits like tapping into subject matter experts world over, higher productivity, saving cost on facilities, transportation etc.,
Source: Musienko, Yuri.Dec 2021. Merehead, www.merehead.com/blog/project-management-trends-2022/
On the other hand, employees, especially ones who are involved in creative work relished the flexibility that remote working conditions provided them. Being free from external irritants, (long hours on road, noise, visits of other employees etc.,) enabled them to work efficiently resulting in higher productivity.
In the APM Salary and Market Trends survey 2020, 66% of respondents reported flexible working was an important criterion for how they chose their job.
Virtual Leadership skills will become one of the top skills in demand for future Project Managers. Virtual Leadership provides practical strategies, tools and solutions for the key issues such as isolated and disengaged workforce, ineffective communication, uncoordinated and counter productivity involved in managing at a distance and create cohesive teams across distance, cultures and languages
#2 Next Gen Project Management Information System (PMIS) Demands Digital skills
The project, program and portfolio management (PPM) software landscape is rapidly changing PMIS includes all the platforms, software and tools that help managers and teams plan, coordinate, and execute every aspect of project or program and portfolio planning and management. The top 5 techno-themes for the future of Project management are Block Chain, Artificial intelligence, Mobile apps, Remote access, Human Machine Collaboration
Artificial intelligence – AI Systems are increasingly finding its way into project management tools to monitor and analyze the patterns of project team. Integration of AI systems with popular tools like Slack, JIRA aids to optimize processes. Not-too-distant future AI Bots will soon handle less intensive administrative tasks freeing up project managers time to available for team and focus on more value-added activities.
Increasing demand for Project Managers with Digital Skills to suit an overarching digital strategy is seen.
The Block chain Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) will protect the project data, eliminate single-point of failure, enable single source of truth. This will greatly help in investigating discrepancies and disputes with external stakeholders such as clients and contractors.
Mobility is no longer a nice-to-have feature but a necessity. Project Managers can keep track of teams, tasks and deadlines on the go. Mobile apps have sealed the huge gap between available data and accessible data.
Human Machine Collaboration:
Post Covid, organizations are reconsidering the structure and composition of work force, reinventing jobs, realizing power of Artificial Intelligence. According to Deloitte, 41% of surveyed companies have already implemented aspects of cognitive or artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in their workforce, whilst 37% are carrying out pilot programmes. However, only 17% of surveyed executives stated a readiness to manage a collaborative workforce of people, robots and AI.Robots and People work side by side complementing and compensating each other’s limitations. Autonomation – the concept of human- machine collaboration – provides benefits of automation while protecting the irreplaceable human skills such as empathy, persuasion, courteousness, negotiation, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making.
Remote Access and Cyber security:
Remote teams confront challenges that co-located teams do not, such as asynchronous time zones and work flow. As the usage of remote project management and team collaboration tools rise, there is a growing emphasis on data security. Project Manager being responsible for overseeing project risks, it is the onus of the project manager to identify, evaluate and manage potential security threats and protect sensitive project data. Cyber Incident Planning and Response is therefore will be a in demand skill for project manager of any industry.
#3 Hybrid Methodology – Seems to Stay
The combination of co-located and distributed teams have triggered another significant change in the way projects are managed – Hybrid Project Management (Hybrid of Waterfall and Agile).
Almost the whole of the 20th century was dominated by the predictive or waterfall model of project management. Project Managers regardless of their industry, were used to creating WBS, Gantt charts etc., tools that aids the project manager to plan in detail in the beginning.
In the starting of 21st century with the rise of software projects, agile gained traction. Agile is seen as a magic bullet to solve waterfall problems such as meticulous processes, restrictive procedures and inadaptability to rapid market changes. Frequent smaller deliveries and continuous stakeholder influence throughout the project helps to accommodate requirement changes without derailing the project.
Yet soon it was realized that agile is not panacea, as it does not suit projects that requires absolute estimates and managing constraints like strict schedule or budget.
Consequently, Hybrid project management approach picked up steam that combines the best of both the worlds. With hybrid approach, project boundaries are defined upfront with accurate estimates as in the waterfall – where execution and delivery through several iterations as Minimum Viable Products are delivered.
Global trends in project management survey of projectmanager.com 2022 found that only 12 % of PMs rely solely on the agile project management methodology, nearly 60% of respondents said that they use either a hybrid of waterfall and agile or many styles within a single project.
Hybrid methodology that combines both structure and flexibility requiring continuous stakeholder collaboration will be a new normal in 2022 and beyond.
Source: Global Trends in Project Management 2022 https://learn.projectmanager.com/global-trends-in-pm-2022
#4 Greater Emphasis on Soft Skills
Growing importance of EI (Emotional Intelligence) albeit the intrusion of AI (Artificial Intelligence) sounds paradoxical but a natural inclination. As more and more technology enter project management, much of the mundane administrative and data analytical tasks of the project manager will be automated and make project manager available for the team. This has and will continue to increase the need for emotionally intelligent project managers.
Skills like empathy, persuasion, critical thinking, conflict resolution, motivation will become even more important. Time and again it is proved that the leader’s attitude is contagious and he/ she sets the tempo for team’s attitudinal norms. The quote “The ‘P’ in PM is as much about ‘People’ management as it is about ‘Project’ management,” will be more relevant than ever. Knowing this trend, many organizations have already started investing in developing these capabilities.
Talent landscape has always been gradually changing in the past. But the virus outbreak from Beijing has zoomed up this change. While we still continue to fight the pandemic, we should continue to reinvent our project management practices and team’s workplace and prepare it for the next disruption. The good news is that there are plenty of tacit and explicit knowledge available out there, through different modes ranging synchronous-online to self-paced videos, to help you build the new project management skills. Whether novice or experienced, it is essential to keep abreast of the trend, restructure priorities to stay relevant with the new paradigms else ‘Everything will roll back to zero’.
Author : Durgadevi Padmanaban PMP, CSSGB, CSSBB