New year, new trends! As in recent years, trends in project management continue to evolve. Here are the nine biggest project management trends to keep an eye on in 2022.
The 9 Biggest Project Management Trends in 2022Linh Tran, Wednesday 05 January 2022 | Reading time: 10 min.
- Remote work & leadership
- Bigger focus on soft skills
- Professionalization of project management & increasing demand for project managers
- Agile is here to stay
- Value and principle-based perspective
- AI, machine learning & automation
- Cloud as the standard
- Lifelong learning & knowledge management
- Sustainability & social responsibility
The Corona pandemic has achieved something that no one previously thought possible: A widespread rollout of working from home - and within a matter of weeks or even days. The work landscape has changed dramatically since March 2020. "New Work" and "The New Normal" have now become the norm. While many companies are increasingly calling their employees back to the office, there is no stopping the trend. Even after the pandemic, many employees will still work at least partially from home.
Organizations, especially managers, need to be prepared for this. Because remote work also means remote leadership. That means you have to lead and manage your team differently than before. It is particularly important not to equate physical presence with greater performance and productivity, and not to treat employees who work from home differently. Also, constant and continuous communication is more important than ever. Often, all it takes is a quick personal check-in with your team members, asking how they're doing and just chatting. Because it's exactly these kinds of interactions that are missing in remote work but are important for personal bonding.
Technical knowledge is important in project management, but it is not the only decisive factor. Competencies such as creativity and empathy are becoming increasingly important. Many still equate project management with rigid processes and technical knowledge, but the discipline has long since evolved. Even beyond Agile, there is a shift in thinking in the industry. In an ever-changing world that is evolving faster and faster, it's important to be able to adapt quickly. Not everyone will be able to keep up at the same pace, but if you create a culture that encourages creativity and creative problem solving, that allows for mistakes, and that prioritizes good relationships and team cohesion, you'll lay the foundation for a healthy company culture and long-lasting business success.
10 years ago, project management was still more of a fringe discipline with which few employees had any contact. But more and more companies in all industries are increasingly carrying out project work - whether consciously or unconsciously. This means that many started to recognize the importance of project management and realized that professionalizing project work is inevitable if you want to implement projects successfully. At the same time, it also means that the demand for project managers is increasing. But there is a shortage of talent in project management like in other industries. This situation will only intensify in the coming years. The reasons are similar to those in other industries: demographic and cultural change. The challenge, therefore, is not only to recruit skilled workers, but also to train them and retain them within the company. Companies need to nurture and develop their existing talent, but also develop strategies to attract new talent. Because to close the talent gap, around 25 million new project managers will be needed by 2030.
Agile has always been something like the somewhat rebellious, younger, and cooler sibling in project management. The ideas were new and brought a breath of fresh air to project management, but it was always seen as something radical. But Agile has long since established itself as a full-fledged project management method. When traditional industries such as manufacturing or large, change-averse corporations began experimenting with it, one thing was certain: Agile is here to stay.
"Agile" in this context means not only working according to agile project management methods, but also being flexible in the literal sense of the word. PMI's Pulse of the Profession Report 2021 makes it clear that "Gymnastic Enterprises", i.e. organizations that are flexible and agile, are more successful. These organizations respond quickly to change and can quickly adapt their processes and ways of working depending on the situation. Instead of working rigidly according to one method, these companies know that, depending on the team, project and situation, they sometimes have to work agile, sometimes traditional or even hybrid.
There are many PM standards and certifications and all have evolved in recent years. The PM organization with the largest membership worldwide, the Project Management Institute, has also continued to develop and has introduced a paradigm shift with the 7th edition of its PMBOK Guide (PMBOK = Project Management Body of Knowledge). Instead of the previous strongly process-oriented approach, the focus in the new version is on a value- and principle-oriented perspective. Successful project execution and the creation of measurable value (tangible & intangible) for the entire value chain are in the foreground. The rather technical and abstract "10 Knowledge Areas", such as Project Integration Management, Project Scope Management or Project Schedule Management, are replaced by the "12 Project Delivery Principles", which also include principles such as resilience and adaptability or even building a culture of accountability and respect. The change of the PMBOK guide is only one of many changes in project management, which represent a long-term evolution of the discipline.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation are no longer anything special in many industries. From vacuum cleaners and refrigerators to self-driving cars - technological transformation has made extremely large strides in recent years. The project management industry is no stranger to these developments. Companies are implementing more and more projects simultaneously, and these projects are also becoming increasingly complex. This means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for project managers to make the right decisions from a vast array of options. Therefore, it is becoming more and more important that they have the necessary tools at hand to help them reduce complexity and work more efficiently. With the increasing awareness of the importance of project management, the demand for project management tools will rise, but also the demand for automation and support via AI and machine learning will steadily increase.
When we introduced InLoox now!, the cloud-based version of our software, in 2011, cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) was still relatively unknown and many organizations were very skeptical about it. Your personal data in a foreign data center? Impossible! The security and data protection concerns were justified, especially when you keep hearing about security breaches and data leaks in the media - the latest example being the log4j security breach. Nevertheless, the cloud was and is secure and offers many advantages.
Many companies have noticed these advantages especially after the first Corona lockdown in 2020: If the data is stored locally in the company's internal server, employees cannot access it. At InLoox, almost all employees literally switched to working from home from one day to the next. This smooth and seamless transition was only possible because we moved our infrastructure almost entirely to the cloud at a very early stage; from the telephone system and document management to our project data, everything was accessible via the cloud. For external parties, this major change was not visible, because we could continue our service and support without interruption.
Another advantage of the cloud, even away from remote work, is the huge time savings. After all, if you run your own server, you have to maintain and service it and perform upgrades and updates. With a cloud server, you save that overhead. These and many other advantages and developments mean that soon it will no longer be "cloud first", but "cloud only".
Never before has the world changed as quickly as it is now, and never before have we had access to so much knowledge. But this knowledge must be documented and stored for future generations (see “Knowledge Management”). When the last baby boomers retire in the next few years and Generation X also slowly retires from their jobs, large gaps in knowledge may arise. Because in addition to the workforce, companies will also lose the wealth of experience of these generations if they do not document the knowledge and regulate the handover in good time. After all, in addition to specialist knowledge that can be looked up, there is also a great deal of tacit knowledge that can only be acquired through personal experience. Companies that want to be ready for the future must therefore promote a culture of learning and offer their employees the opportunity to continue their education, and they must also safeguard their store of knowledge in good time.
Sustainability and social responsibility are also playing an increasingly important role in project management. For a while now, not only financial aspects have been considered to evaluate the success of a project, but also the extent to which the project has created a benefit for society. When selecting projects, increasing attention is being paid to sustainability and responsible implementation. Clients choose partners who are aware of their social responsibility, and investments are evaluated according to "environmental social governance" criteria. However, this does not mean that sustainable projects are not profitable. On the contrary, sustainable project management contributes in the long term to corporate success, value creation and a growing economy. In addition, resources are conserved and a more livable world is created and maintained for future generations.