PM-Partners’ Top 6 Project Management Trends For 2014

Insights | 21 February 2014

The following article has been developed from interviewing PM-Partners’ experienced Consultants, Project Managers, and subject matter experts currently working in the field across a variety of sectors, including Finance, Government, IT, Industrial and Broadcast/Media.

1.    Agile as a way of project thinking

The Agile approach to project execution will continue to gain traction as organisations look for alternative ways to improve project outcomes. These methods can vastly improve results and faster cycle times if approached correctly.

Many organisations, however, approach Agile with the wrong ‘low document project management’ mindset which without fail, actually makes executions of projects impossible to achieve and hampers any future attempts to become more agile. Recently, Project Managers that were surveyed for the purpose of this article provided commentary that leveraging Agile on ALL of their organisations projects was proving to be a mistake, but when leveraged in the right way on the right projects, it was delivering benefits!”.

To move forward in 2014, organisations will need to understand how to implement Agile appropriately in their business, for example, when addressing investment in resource, training and appropriate controls. The future of successful Agile implementations will take on a different mindset. Rather than an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach, organisations will look to where the Agile approach can be incorporated within larger methodologies.

For organisations the result in successfully implementing Agile and facilitating the smooth and rapid flow of projects through their gates and approvals, means that organisations can respond to competitive market forces with innovation, speed and agility.

2.    Change Management to improve outcomes into the business

Organisations are becoming increasingly aware that the use of Project Management methodologies, frameworks, processes and tools alone will not ensure that their initiatives are successful in the long-term. Realising that the human side of change – true stakeholder engagement, management and support – is what makes the long-term difference in true success or failure in these initiatives (strategic or tactical).  Enter the complementary discipline of Change Management.

While by no means new, Change Management itself has matured into a new realm within project management. In the past, talk of Change Management standards created a buzz, a trend; or even business frenzy. There was a tendency for people, PMOs and organisations to adopt the trend without really considering how to apply it in their organisation and their environment. The results subsequently saw many organisations missing their objectives and over compensating with their adoption of change.

However, signs have pointed from the release of the CMBOK (Change Management body of Knowledge) that the guidelines provided will allow for organisation to undertake a more pragmatic approach to Change Management.  With further frameworks in place we will see organisational change management being addressed at the start of projects through enlisting the help of a Change Manager or having a Project Managers with those skills.  What can be certain in 2014, is Change Management needs to be an integral part of delivering business outcomes

3.   Portfolio  Management – Project Management Driving Business Change

Rather than simply delivering a piece of work, PMOs and Project Managers will be increasingly urged to see the bigger picture when implementing any business initiatives. They will need to consider:

  • How does this initiative influence change in the overall business strategy?
  • How does each individual project/programme align with the overall strategic direction of the business?

Project Management can no longer be measured on a project by project basis but rather in a holistic view across all business initiatives. The trend will see Executives that oversee more extensive portfolios gradually move towards Portfolio Management principles to control investment spend and business outcomes, as opposed to dealing with individual programs and projects. This will place additional responsibilities with Senior PMO Managers who in turn will need to ensure program and project related activities are appropriately controlled whilst also ensuring that Executives and higher level Governance groups are provided with accurate rolled up information with which to steer the Portfolio.

4.   Small is MORE – upskill or move away from large complex programmes

The general consensus for 2014, will see businesses being expected to do more with less, faster. Customers will expect faster return on investment and agility will become equally important in executing projects. Customers will no longer be prepared to wait 6 months for an outcome; they could expect daily, weekly and monthly project results.

In the past few years many organisations have commenced large and complex programs with the incorrect allocation of people skills and experience in place. It’s important to note that programs aren’t projects and they require a different set of skills that are, in general terms, still relatively rare.

In response to poor results, forward thinking organisations are either heavily invested in Program Management skills or (in some cases) moved away from large complex work in favour of breaking them down into more manageable smaller projects. There is a raft of relevant research that supports this, highlighting that smaller projects are between 10 -20 times more likely to be successful in reaching their benefits compared to larger complex programs.

It’s clear that this trend will continue in 2014, projects will be smaller in size but the volume of projects will be larger. Requirements will change regularly and customers will be able to start and stop projects dynamically as business environments change.

5.   Business Analysis – coming of age and enterprise prominence

The demand for greater organizational efficiency will increase demand for business architecture, business rules and business process experts, subsequently business analysis will gain prominence at an enterprise wide level.  This will be reflected in all sectors including federal, state and local government agencies by investing seriously in the role of business analysis.

This year, the significance of a Business Analyst supporting project delivery will be reflected in:

  • the emergence of a hybrid role of Project Manager and Business Analyst
  • Business analysts will enhance skills to make their business case to stakeholders
  • Business Analysts will need to measure results to prove results
  • Centres of Excellence for Business Analysis will continue to spread
  • Business Process Organisations (BPOs) to invest in the development of their business analysis practices
  • IIBA Building Business Capability conference will gain prominence for professional development
  • The emergence of the Executive Business Analyst – the trusted advisor to senior management

6.    Project management skills – the rise of the cross-skilled PM

With global competition on the rise, Project Managers more than ever need to broaden their own skills, to place more importance on the value and specialist knowledge they bring to a business.

Project Management certification is now expected (if not multiple). A greater focus on the financial management of projects will require finance-savvy Project Managers; Project Managers will be held to account for setting and managing project budgets

Currently, Project Manager roles on offer now specify that the suitable candidate be able to understand and interact at multiple levels of an organisations but also with multiple disciplines and industry knowledge.  Greater value is placed on Project Managers and Program Managers to have multi-discipline experience, for example, Project Managers that have proven experience not only in Business or IT, but also across Mining and Construction.

Want to know if your projects are on target to provide the right business benefit? Or if you simply want further information around Project Management, speak to one of our qualified customer service team today on 1300 70 13 14.

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