Predictions for Project Management in 2018

Predictions for Project Management in 2018

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 2018 relate to all levels of management in a firm. Although we have high hopes for a lot of the changes to occur everywhere, some bad results can occur especially if people are afraid that the changes will remove them from their comfort zone. Most of these predictions are based upon my lecture series on PM 2.0 – PM 3.0: The Future of Project Management and my lectures on Innovation Project Management.

Growth in Project Metrics Measurement Techniques

When the Project Management Institute (PMI)® moved from the triple constraints to competing constraints, companies became more appreciative of the advances in metric measurement techniques. For almost four decades, we focused mainly on measurements of time, cost and scope (i.e., the triple constraints). But understanding the true health of a project requires more than just these three constraints. Companies will be expected to make further advancements in measurement techniques to address all the new metrics that management and stakeholders will want to be displayed on performance dashboards.

Prioritization of Constraints

With an increase in the number of metrics, there will be an increase in the number of constraints on a project. There may be as many as 10 or 12 metrics monitored throughout the project. With this many metrics, and assuming each metric represents a potential constraint on the project, it may be impossible to meet all the constraints. Tradeoffs will be necessary. The solution will be the prioritization of constraints at the onset of the project as well as periodic reviews of the priorities throughout the life-cycle of the project. With just the triple constraints, prioritization was not that difficult. But with perhaps 10 or more constraints, prioritization will be challenging.

The Need for Value, Value and More Value

The traditional goal of project management was to produce an outcome or deliverable.  The new goal is the creation of business value. After all, why work on a project if the intent is not to create some form of business value? Value may very well become the most important word in the project manager’s vocabulary in 2018. Metrics will be established for the tracking and reporting of business value creation.

Trusting the Project Managers

For decades, executives were afraid that project managers would be making decisions that were reserved for the senior levels of management. As such, very limited trust was given to the project managers and, in most cases, project sponsorship and/or close governance was seen as being critical. Now, executives are placing significantly more trust in the hands of the project managers.

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One-Size-Fits-All No Longer Exists

For decades, executives believed that the best way to control project management from the top floor of the building was to create a single project management methodology that could be applied all projects. In many cases, every project in the company had to follow the same methodology and all the accompanying activities and processes, even if many activities were not directly applicable to a particular project. Now, because of the trust given to project managers, flexibility is given to the project managers to customize an approach for a particular client. These flexible methodologies or frameworks, such as Agile and Scrum, will replace existing one-size-fits-all methodologies.

Business as Usual No Longer Exists

Using one and only one methodology, small enhancements were made periodically, and the executives still believed that it was business as usual. By eliminating the one-size-fits-all approach, it is no longer business as usual. In order to remain competitive, companies must change the way they perform project management. Techniques such as Agile and Scrum showed that some traditional project management practices may be outdated.

The Need for Customer-Driven Frameworks

For years, we told our customers that our company has a great methodology and, if you award us a contract, we will manage your project according to our methodology. With the ability of project managers to use flexible methodologies or frameworks, customers are now asking the project managers to customize the framework according to the client’s business model rather than the contractor’s business model. I call this approach customer-driven frameworks, and this can easily lead to more business and better customer-contractor relationships. The closer the project managers conduct business according to the way that the client does business, the greater the chance of a successful project accompanied by higher levels of customer satisfaction.

The Growth in Innovation Project Management

Companies cannot grow solely through cost reduction and the hope of repeat business. Innovation is now taking center stage and those companies that can effectively manage innovation projects will become the market leaders for tomorrow. But innovation project management will require a significantly different form of project management than we traditionally teach in the classroom. There will be a significant growth in innovation project management practices in 2018.

The Growth in Organizational Change Management

The output of innovation activities is not just new products and services. Innovation also includes new ways of conducting business with the possibility of removing people from their traditional comfort zones. Companies are now learning how to implement organizational change management activities, including changes in the way that projects are managed, and to do so without major impacts on the business base.

The Changing Role of Governance

In the past, governance in project management focused heavily on supervision of the project managers and the decisions that they would be making. Now that more trust has been placed in the hands of the project managers, the role of governance is more so of validating that the firm is working on the right projects and the projects in the portfolio are aligned to strategic business objectives. Governance of people will be replaced by governance of activities.

The Growth of Coping Skills

Projects are becoming larger and more complex. Changes in project management, as identified above, are happening. All of this is increasing the stress and pressure placed upon project managers. Rather than teaching project managers only the traditional human relations skills, educators must also help their students to learn the necessary skills for coping with the stress and pressure of projects and project management. If you cannot cope with the pressure and stress, it may not matter what other skills you possess. Failure may be just around the corner.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my projections for 2018. In closing, let me make one comment related to the last projection. Change is inevitable and some changes will be disruptive. What you have at home is more important than any project you will probably manage. What you have at home is the means to cope with the pressure and stress of project management. There is “quality of life” and do not allow the stress and pressure to affect it.

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About the Author
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.

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