Trends within project management
Remember onion and watermelon salad in the 1980s? Or khaki shorts, boat shoes and black plastic chokers of the 90s, followed in the next decade by McMansions and open plan kitchens?
Food, fashion and housing may be more trend-worthy than project management, but believe it or not, it has trends too.
Declan Collins, development manager at project management advisory company HQ Management says the focus of project management has changed and it’s driving innovation to the benefit of business.
“It’s that continual self-reflection and improvement as opposed to the hindsight model, where you deliver the final product and you go ‘like why didn’t that work?’.”
In the past, traditional project management frameworks like PMBOK (project management body of knowledge) or methods like Prince2 have been structured and process-based, providing the basic elements of project management.
The trend now, he says, is a collaborative approach that looks at the end outcome first and tailors the product around user acceptance.
“Pure project management theory is that you have to define scope – if you have air-conditioning and if you change away from that you need change control processes to ensure you will be covered for them,” Collins says.
“One of the bigger trends in project management is the adaptive approach, having less strict procedural elements to really focus on the outcomes.”
He says it’s all about really understanding your client’s needs, understanding the issues and the risks behind everything and then working backwards.
“Ask ‘What is it that you need and how is this issue coming about?’ and then almost going back and start to scope out what you think you need to get done and then bring in the client, relevant stakeholders and end users,” he explains.
Collins says the adaptive nature of managing stakeholders and end user needs is a current trend. There are various project management methodologies and hybrids of these that are becoming more common.
Other trends include:
- further involvement of Artificial Intelligence in project management, which is expected to help workflow and efficiency
- further development and use of analytics tools
- a push for greater Emotional Quotient, or soft skills, as project managers work with more people from diverse backgrounds
- remote and co-working arrangements in teams as people look for more flexible working arrangements
- increased competition and human-centred design.
When taking new trends on board, Collins says the key is to set up your governance structures and have them in place first.
At the start of the project, you need to:
- embed the whole organisational structure to bind your core stakeholders, your managers
- have your working groups and stakeholders identified, and
- establish the project at the beginning.
Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to change and adapt as the project continues.
A good project manager will:
- continually look at other trends and alternatives and see what could improve the process
- absorb the good and bad each project and project management model
- continually interrogate every single aspect of every single project
- always reflect.
“It’s the real driver in organisational change, and that’s what separates you from other project managers,” Collins adds.