Predictions for Project Management in 2017
By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. Senior Executive Director of Project Management, IIL
Every year, there are changes that take place in project management. The predictions for 2017 relate to all levels of management in a firm. Although we have high hopes for a lot of the changes, some bad results can occur. Several of my predictions focus more so on unfortunate results from my 2016 predictions as well as some challenges for the 2017 predictions. Most of these predictions are based upon my lecture series on PM 2.0 – PM 3.0: The Future of Project Management.
Metric mania will grow.
Not all of the changes that will occur will in 2017 will be favorable. In my predictions for 2016, I stated that there would be a growth in the number of metrics needed to determine the true health of a project. For many companies, the project management community saw this as an opportunity to identify significantly more metrics than were actually needed. The result was “metric mania” where the organization is now asking the PMOs to periodically evaluate all metrics used and to recommend removal of “bad” metrics that simply create additional work and provide no informational value.
Project management is now being viewed as a strategic business process rather than merely a traditional project management process used for project execution and delivery.
Historically, project managers made only project-related decisions (usually concerning the technical aspects of the project) whereas all business decisions were in hands of the project sponsors. Now, because there is more trust in the ability of the project managers to deliver, they are allowed to make business-related as well as project-related decisions.
Project management career paths will become strategic competencies.
For decades, project management was treated more so as a part-time occupation rather than as a career path, with the exception of those firms that were project-driven organizations and were pressured by their clients to reluctantly make project management a career path position. Project management is now being treated as a career path in both project-driven and non-project-driven companies. But as companies recognize the benefits that can be achieved from project management, we will see project management maturing into a strategic competency. Each year, companies are assessing which career paths are a necessity for the firm’s critical growth over the next several years. In many firms, project management is now viewed as one of the five critical career paths and being treated as a strategic competency necessary for the firm’s future. Each year, larger portions of a company’s training dollars appear to be committed to project management education.
Each project can have a different definition of success.
For years, we allowed customers and contractors to work toward their own definitions of success. Now, as project management matures, we are asking the customer and contractor to meet at the onset of a project and come up with a mutually agreed definition of success. Each definition of success can therefore have a unique set of metrics specifically used for that project. If the customer and contractor do not have an agreed upon definition of success, the result can be Exhibit 1 below.
Exhibit 1: A Disagreement in Defining Project Success
Project governance personnel will require project management education.
In my predictions for 2016, I stated that sponsorship by a single individual would be replaced with committee sponsorship. The problem was that, because projects were becoming larger and more complex, all of the necessary decisions could not be made by a single person acting as a sponsor and committee governance would be a necessity. Unfortunately, for many firms, this has created a headache because people placed on the governance committee were poorly educated in project management and were under the impression that project governance and organizational governance are the same. Educational programs will need to be developed for committee governance personnel such that they understand their new roles, responsibilities, decision-making authority and that this can change from project to project and therefore must be a negotiated process at the start of each project so that there is no conflict over duties between the governance personnel and the project managers.
There will be a growth in the use of Portfolio PMOs.
In my 2016 predictions, I stated that the most important word in the project manager’s vocabulary will be “value.” The definition of a project will include wording on value to be expected. The definition of project success will be based upon value delivered rather than meeting the project’s constraints. Metrics will be established for measuring benefits and value throughout the life cycle of the project. What we are now realizing is that some organization within the company must take the responsibility for selecting and prioritizing the projects in the portfolio of projects such that corporate business value will be maximized. This will be accomplished by the use of a Portfolio PMO. As a side benefit, the Portfolio PMO can prevent “pet” projects from being added to the portfolio and wasting precious resources that provide little or no value.
Projects will be aligned to strategic corporate objectives.
Project value can come in many forms. One of the responsibilities of the Portfolio PMO will be to track the projects in the portfolio and measure their ability to meet strategic business objectives, thus maximizing the business value for the company. This may create conflicts if the Portfolio PMO selects and prioritizes projects for inclusion in the portfolio based upon strategic business objectives rather than functional, divisional or business unit objectives based upon limited resources.
There will be a growth in unrealistic expectations of project management.
As project management grows, executives will begin working on larger and more complex projects. While this is often a necessity for growth and survival, the expectations must be realistic. For years, we encouraged project managers to address each project optimistically and with a positive attitude. Now, we will be telling project managers to “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Risk management practices will now take center stage and project managers may have to develop detailed contingency plans at an early stage in the project’s life cycle.
There will be a growth in internally developed dashboards.
As I stated in last year’s expectations, written reports are slowly being replaced by dashboard reporting systems. Most companies hired outside dashboard consulting companies to help create their dashboards. But as the need for more dashboards has arisen, companies will be hiring (or training some of their own people to serve as) infographics or dashboard designers. This should lower the cost to the company and get dashboards that are more closely aligned to strategic business objectives.
Project management methodologies will be replaced by frameworks.
As more trust is being placed in the hands of the project managers, rigid methodologies that are based upon policies and procedures are being replaced with flexible methodologies or frameworks that can be customized to individual projects. This is one of the concepts of Agile and Scrum.
Multinational project management will grow significantly.
As more companies seek out the opportunities to become multinational players, the need to develop multinational project management skills will increase. This will require coursework in topics such as international politics, power and religions, and how they impact the way that some projects must be managed.
The role of the change control boards (CCBs) will be modified.
Traditional, CCBs looked only at a given project when considering whether to approve or deny a scope change. As projects become larger and more complex, resources may have to be removed from ongoing projects to satisfy a scope change on the project at hand. Now, CCBs must consider how the scope change on one project may impact other projects.
The use of Certification Boards will increase.
There are numerous certification programs can an individual can attend. Most companies provide tuition assistance for these certifications. But now, it appears that, with the number of possible certifications in the marketplace and with that number expected to grow, companies are creating Certification Boards to approve the selection of certifications and to make sure that it adds value for the firm. The growth in certifications will most likely happen only for those firms that reimburse employees for the cost of certification.
Companies will perform world class benchmarking.
For years, companies believed that project management benchmarking should be done only with companies in their own industry and with similar processes. Now, companies will be performing world class benchmarking where they will measure themselves against the best project management companies in the world rather than just those in their own industry.
The above predictions are the ones that I consider critical for 2017. The introduction of PM 2.0 and PM 3.0 will bring forth additional changes. The predictions described above are part of the lectures on PM 2.0 and PM 3.0.
For those of you that are interested, IIL offers 1-hour, 3-hour, and 6-hour webinars and seminars on PM 2.0 and PM 3.0. For additional information on these webinars and seminars, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.iil.com.
Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. is IIL’s Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks, most recently Project Management 2.0.