Guest Contributions, Project Management

The Future of Project Management: Software and Skills


In my article for CIO, “5 trends that will transform project management,” I covered the increasing need to focus on strategy, leveraging employee strengths over hierarchies, increased accountability, social responsibility, remote work and a greater emphasis on softer skills.

But are these the only PM trends we can expect to see in the near future?

Not at all, there are many more challenges ahead in this rapidly evolving, global workplace; prompting higher expectations in the current and future project, program, and portfolio management arenas. Here are other skill and software trends that I expect to heavily factor into project success ratios.

What are future skills project leaders will need?

  • Highly developed thought leadership and intrapreneurial mindset and capabilities. Project Managers can no longer just “manage” projects and execute instructions without further developing and engaging their higher-level thinking and intrapreneurial spirit. Both of these allow a deeper level of awareness that can become a huge asset to stakeholders, sponsors, and project teams, and can further result in opportunities for increased high-value idea generation. It also creates an environment of continuous improvement that becomes contagious and encourages other project participants to raise their own bar.
  • An increased awareness and influence as change management experts. While project management and change management are different disciplines, they should work hand-in-hand to improve project deliverables and results. In order to deliver the best possible outcome, a project manager needs to possess an understanding of the impact project activities has on current  and future business processes. Even when collaborating with a change management expert, if a project manager has this knowledge it can offer additional insights from a different vantage point.
  • Advanced advocacy and master collaboration skills. At a glance, a project manager may be tempted to think a project doesn’t impact one or more business areas, but more often than not this can be a big oversight. Project managers should strive to become company-wide master collaborators to engage other secondary stakeholders and create buy-in through additional relevant and insightful communication channels. This can often create a  smoother path to success.
  • Effective acumen as a strategic partner. To be fully aware and effective as leaders, Project, Program, and/or Portfolio Managers need to be involved at the strategic levels in any business. Their input and knowledge of short and long-term business goals is the foundation of all initiatives. Project, Portfolio, and Program Managers need to partner with executives and act as business champions for optimal results.
  • The skills to leverage hybrid methodologies for increased project success. As business models continue to become more complex, the project methodologies adopted to enable business strategy must, in turn, become more flexible if optimal results are to be realized. Employing one methodology is not always the best strategy, especially for more complex projects. Project managers will need to remain adaptable.


What will the future of PM and PPM Software look like?

  • An increased need for tools that enable and empower advanced leadership capabilities.  Project managers and software vendors will need to up their game to provide an elevated level of functionality that not only enables, but empowers advanced leadership capabilities. As more and more vendors offer similar features, only those who can develop smart and more intuitive offerings will rise to the top. As a component of advanced project management, predictive analytics will increasingly become a key component of strategic initiatives that allows leaders strengthened decision making advantages.
  • Extreme mobility will become a requirement for survival. Even if a project team isn’t virtual, simply having real-time access to big data through unified communications will offer great advantages. Stand-alone or off-line software and tools are rapidly falling off the grid, and flexible, robust cloud-based solutions have become the standard. Vendors offering full-feature extreme mobile solutions will dominate the PM and PPM space.
  • Companies that offer cross-platform integration with increased visibility will stand out. The need for increased visibility throughout companies is on the rise as they strive to improve on stakeholder satisfaction, customer relationship management and brand recognition. This creates the need for data flow and access, across multiple platforms to advance, without manual interventions or workarounds. 
Companies need to expeditiously and effectively fortify their understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. To increase the chances of advancing beyond competitors, companies will also need to employ their  people, processes, and technologies to respond to challenges in more meaningful ways.