Dr. Harold Kerzner's Project Management Predictions for 2020

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director, International Institute for Learning (IIL)

The landscape for project management changes almost every year. Some changes are relatively small or incremental, whereas other changes can be significant. Major changes to project management will occur in 2020 due to much of the new material that the Project Management Institute (PMI) has published and will be testing on in the new version of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam beginning in June 2020.

Most of the critical changes that I see happening in 2020 can be clustered into the six pillars of project management. These six pillars could very well change the face of project management for at least a decade rather than just for 2020.

Pillar #1: Project managers will be expected to manage strategic projects rather than just traditional or operational projects.

For several decades, project managers were only responsible for traditional or operational projects that:

  • Had a well-defined statement of work
  • Used the traditional “waterfall” methodology that was often based upon a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Relied upon earned value status reporting that focused mainly upon the time, cost and scope constraints

Strategic projects were assigned to functional managers whom executives trusted more than project managers. Functional managers were permitted to use whatever approaches they believed would work on their projects, and often without any of the processes, tools or techniques used in traditional project management practices.

Today, more and more companies believe that they are managing their business as though it is a series of projects. As executives begin to recognize the benefits of utilizing effective project management practices, and more trust is placed in the hands of the project managers, project managers are being asked to manage strategic projects as well as traditional or operational projects.

But as will be seen in some of the pillars that follow, many new techniques are accompanied by significant changes in the way that work is executed, e.g. new methodologies, new status reporting processes and new tools and techniques. Strategic projects (such as those involving innovation, R&D and entrepreneurship) may require different skills, a greater understanding of risk management (especially business risk management), and the use business metrics in addition to the traditional time, cost and scope metrics.

Pillar #2: Project management is now recognized as a strategic competency rather than just another career path position.

In Pillar #1, it was stated that project managers are now managing strategic as well as operational or traditional projects. Executive management now appears to recognize and appreciate the contributions that the PMs are making to the growth of the business.

Many companies will conduct a study every year or two to identify the four or five strategic career paths that must be cultivated in the company so that the growth of the firm is sustainable. Project management makes the short list of these four or five career path slots. As such, project management is now treated as a “strategic competency” rather just another career path position for the workers.

How do we know this? Partly, by considering the fact that many project managers now present and report project status to senior management. Historically, PMs conducted briefings for the project sponsors, and only occasionally for senior management. Now, with the responsibility to manage strategic projects that may impact the future of the firm, project managers may be conducting briefings for all senior management and even the board of directors.

Pillar #3: There will be a significant change in the skill set that some project managers may need.

When there exists some commonality among the projects in a firm such that a one-size-fits-all approach can be used during project execution, the skill set for the project managers may be known with some degree of certainty. But referring to Pillar #1, where project managers are now responsible for managing strategic projects, new skills may be necessary.

Strategic projects will vary from company to company, and even in the same company there can be a multitude of different types of strategic projects included in innovation, R&D, entrepreneurship and new product development. The skills needed can vary based upon the type of strategic project. As an example, different skills may be needed whether we are discussing innovation projects that are radical rather than incremental. Some of the new skills needed for strategic projects include design thinking, rapid prototype development, crowdstorming, market research, brainstorming and change management. For project managers involved in multinational strategic projects, the list of skills might also include an understanding of local cultures, religions and politics.

Pillar #4: There will be a significant change in how we define the success (and failure) of a project.

For years, the definition of project success was the creation of project deliverables within the constraints of time, cost and scope. While this definition seemed relatively easy to use, it created several headaches:

First, companies can always create deliverables within time, cost and scope, but there is no guarantee that customers would purchase the end results. Second, everyone seemed to agree that there should be a “business” component to project success, but they were unable to identify how to do it because of the lack of project-related business metrics. Third, this definition of project success was restricted to traditional or operational projects. Functional managers that were responsible for strategic projects were utilizing their own definitions of project success, and many of these strategic projects were being executed under the radar screen because of the competition in the company for funding for strategic projects.

Today, companies believe they are managing their business as a stream of projects, including both strategic and traditional projects. As such, there must exist a definition that satisfies all types of projects. The three components of success today are:

  • The project must provide or at least identify business benefits
  • The project’s benefits must be harvested such that they can be converted into sustainable business value that can be expressed quantitatively
  • The project must be aligned to strategic business objectives

With these three components as part of the project’s success criteria, companies must ask themselves when creating a portfolio of strategic projects, “Why expend resources and work on this project if the intent is not to create sustainable business value?” These three components can also be used to create failure criteria as to when to pull the plug and stop working on a project. Since these three components are discussed in current PMI literature, it is expected that these three components will appear in the new version of the PMP® exam, beginning in June 2020.

Pillar #5: There will be a significant growth in the number of metrics, especially business-related metrics, to be used on projects.

The four pillars discussed previously made it clear that the business side of projects will need to be understood much better than in the past. This will require significantly more metrics than just time, cost and scope.

Companies will need to create metrics that can track benefits realization, value created from the benefits and how each project is aligned to strategic business objectives. To do this may require the creation of 20-30 new metrics. This will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the earned value measurement systems (EVMS) currently being used.

The new project business metrics must be able to be combined to answer questions that executives have concerning business and portfolio health. The list below identifies metrics that executives need for business decision-making and strategic planning.

  • Business profitability
  • Portfolio health
  • Portfolio benefits realization
  • Portfolio value achieved
  • Portfolio mix of projects
  • Resource availability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Strategic alignment of projects
  • Overall business performance

Exhibit 1 shows typical categories of metrics and that new versions of project management (i.e. PM 1.0 – PM 5.0) may appear in the literature. The growth in metrics is due to the growth in measurement techniques. Today, we believe that we can measure anything.

Exhibit 1. Growth in Metrics

Pillar #6: There will be a growth in flexible project management frameworks or methodologies that are capable of measuring benefits and business value as the project progresses and after the deliverables have been created.

The traditional “waterfall” approach to project management implementation has successfully been used for years, but this approach has the limitation that value is measurable primarily at the end of the project. Companies want to have value and benefits metrics reported throughout the project so that they can cancel or redirect non-performing projects.

Techniques such as Agile and Scrum appear to do a better job of measuring and reporting value created through the project, than other approaches. In the future, we can expect more flexible project management approaches such as Agile and Scrum to appear.


It is unrealistic to think that these six pillars will be the only changes that will occur in 2020. There will be other changes, but perhaps not as significant as these six pillars. The implementation of these six pillars requires that companies try to envision the future and plan for it. For companies that believe in “business as usual” or “let’s leave well enough alone,” these changes will not be implemented. Those companies that believe in “doing things the same old way” will most likely struggle to stay in existence.

Contact IIL to find out how we can support your individual, team, or organizational Learning & Development needs in 2020 and beyond. Email learning@iil.com, call +1-212-758-0177 or request a free consultation on our website.

About the Author
Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University.

He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers in addition to more than 80 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).


Project Management Professional and PMP are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Dr. Harold Kerzner Q&A: How Changes in Project Management Are Supporting Agile and Scrum

This past November as part of IIL’s IPM Day online conference, Dr. Harold Kerzner delivered a keynote on “How Changes in Project Management Are Supporting Agile and Scrum. 

The keynote discussed how, over the years, project management has undergone continuous improvement efforts by extracting best practices from other management practices such as Six Sigma. Now, the reverse is happening: other techniques are extracting some of the best practices from project management for their own continuous improvement efforts. This appears to be true for continuous improvements in Agile and Scrum activities. The landscape in project management is continuously changing for the better!

Following Dr. Kerzner’s keynote, we received hundreds of questions for his live Q&A portion (so many that they couldn’t be addressed in the allotted 15 minutes!) and we are excited to share highlights here, organized in the following categories:

  • Agile and Scrum 
  • Project Managers of the Future 
  • Reporting and Metrics 
  • Portfolio Management
  • Public Sector
  • Challenges
  • Cultural Differences 
  • Project Failure and Success 
  • Benefit Harvesting
  • Miscellaneous

Content has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Can the traditional PM role still exist in an Agile world?

Yes, because some projects can be handled better using traditional project management.

How do we plan effective scheduling using framework, v. traditional and agile?

In traditional project management, everything is linear and we try to lay out a complete schedule at the initiation of the project. With flexible frameworks such as Agile and Scrum, we work with smaller units of time that allow us more flexibility in the adjustment of scope to fit a schedule. In Agile, we tend to fix time and cost, and allow scope to change as needed. With traditional project management, scope is fixed and we tend to allow cost and schedule to change as needed.

How can Scrum or Kanban (agile methodologies in general) methods fit the existing PMI® framework (i.e. PMBOK® Guide)?

My personal belief is that they do not fit, at least well, if you believe that all processes and activities identified in the PMBOK® Guide must appear in each methodology. The future will be flexible approaches that are customized to each user or client. PMs may discover that only 20% of the PMBOK® Guide is needed, as an example.

Is there a way to transition from waterfall to Agile or is it “all in”? Do we have to go to an agile framework and shed all waterfall oriented controls?

My experience has been that you will have a great deal of difficulty going straight to Agile without first adopting some form of project management. Then, it is up to the company, based upon their types of projects, to decide how many of the tools and practices of traditional project management should be carried over. There are some practices that are common to both.

Agile always offers stakeholders the upper hand in modifying the scope after each sprint. As a project manager, how can we limit the change so that we don’t want the team to modify the code after every demo?

I understand your concern, but what are the alternatives especially if you might want repeat business from this client? My personal feeling is that I can live with frequent scope modification as opposed to continuously explaining cost overruns and schedule slippages.

What is the best approach to managing Domain name projects? Would it be better to follow the waterfall traditional project management approach or the Agile/Scrum method?

This is a tough question to answer because it depends on the type of project, size, nature of the project, how many people, whether it will involve change management, etc…

Does the Agile & Scrum framework reduce/omit the requirement of a traditional PM in the IT Industry?

I have to be non-committal, but I believe that each company must make their own decision on this. Regardless of the industry, there are always going be projects that work well using traditional project management practices.

Thank you for explaining the difference between Benefits and Values. This is expected by the executives. What are your recommendations for being certified in Agile and Scrum and is it value added for project managers or the leadership managing project managers as well? If so, which designation do you recommend? Thanks.

Being an educator for five decades, I am a believer in life-long learning. Having said that, I recommend obtaining the additional certifications as long as they will benefit your career goals.


Should a company have a methodology or is it better to allow project managers to manage as they want?

Great question! I believe in the future that methodologies will be eliminated and replaced with tools such as forms, guidelines, templates and checklists. I have one client that has 50++ tools. At the beginning of a project, the PM and some team members select the tools needed and then create a customized methodology or flexible methodology or framework that best fits the client’s needs.

I just got my PMP®. Given the future you are envisioning what do you recommend I begin with?

What I normally tell my students is to work for a small company where, as a project manager, you manage everything and really get to understand project management. Working in a large company, you might manage only a small part of a project and never see the big picture of project management. Start small and then climb the ladder.

What can older project managers do to extend their careers? Are there other fields (e.g. training) that can be pursued?

If you are set in your ways and refuse to be removed from your comfort zone, you have a problem. If you are willing to change, then education is the start.

What are the top 3 skills that define the project manager of the future? How should new professionals seek to gain these skills. Thanks!

For more than 40 years of teaching project management, I have emphasized that the single most important skill is the ability of the PM to manage pressure and stress, not only what is placed upon them, but also what is placed upon the team. As for 2nd and 3rd place, I would pick team building skills and decision-making skills.

How will AI/machine learning affect the role of a project manager and skill sets needed?

I wrote a blog last year on AI and Project Management.

How do you see Project Management and Organizational Change Management working together in the future to achieve benefits and value in projects?

I see project managers staying on board the project and becoming the change agent. They will then be responsible for implementing the changes needed to extract the benefits.


Tools such as EVM (Earned Value Management) provide a metric for schedule and budget. What type of metrics are you seeing as proven practices for measuring benefits and value?

There is no single metric for either benefits or value. Value metrics are made up of attributes or components. For example, I saw an IT company use a value metric that had 5 components: time, cost, functionality, safety protocols, and quality of design. Each component had a weighting factor assigned to it and the totals were rolled up and reported in one dashboard metric.

Executives are interested in KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which can be loaded. What is your advice in linking dashboards, metrics and KPIs?

I agree that a linkage is necessary. However, I also believe that you should give executives dashboards that provide them with the information they need rather than the information they want. If you have a metric library that has 50 metrics, I would not create dashboards to display all 50 metrics. I would instead ask the executives, “What decisions do you expect to make, and what metrics do you need to help you make those decisions?” Providing executives with too much information is an invitation for executive micromanagement.

Dr. Kerzner said that teams are now allowed to use multiple tools. How then do you balance this with the need to maintain standards so you can successfully create consolidated dashboards?

There will be standards for each tool used. The standards for dashboards involve space, colors, images, aesthetics, etc… but not specifically the information displayed, specifically the metrics. This will be customized for each client.

My understanding is that a dashboard is operational in nature to track the progress of project throughout its lifecycle while a project scorecard will address the need to link up the project objectives, benefits and values to the strategic objectives of the organization?

You are correct. This is how I teach it as well.


Lots of times decisions on portfolio made on projects, e.g. with NPV which is purely financial measures and when one looks at more attributes (value creation) upfront, it is likely possible that the optimized portfolio may spit out potentially different set of projects to execute on. This is optimization exercise and companies struggle. Your guidance to us on how to overcome this situation?

Great question. There are financial values and nonfinancial values that need to be considered. Unfortunately, as I see it, perhaps the weakest part of project selection is in the criteria we use which appears to still be financial. As part of business case development, we are now stressing that organizations learn how to prepare a benefits realization plan as part of the business case. Once this happens, we should have a much clearer picture of the realistic benefits and value possible. But how long this will take for companies to learn, I do not know.

We are a Marketing Services Provider whose clients include many large retailers and financial institutions. Of course, we are always working with limited resources. What is your take on portfolio management for a consulting company like ours?

Portfolio management begins with identification of your largest or most critical clients and what projects need to be undertaken to maintain their business. Using techniques like Kaplan and Norton’s Balance Scorecard is a great start at doing this.


I work for the Public sector in Cape Verde, a small African County in the west African coast. Considering the projects complexity in the public sector, involving many stakeholders, changing scope and short cycles, what would be your thoughts on a better approach to use Project Management methodologies in this area and how agile practices can help? Thank you Dr. Kerzner.

Methodologies are not necessarily the solution to your problems. With traditional project management, sad to say, we often try to stay as far away as possible from stakeholders and clients during project execution for fear of scope changes they may request and stakeholder meddling. With techniques such as Agile, we welcome client/stakeholder involvement and expect these people to have at least a cursory understanding of project management and Agile practices. In other words, it appears that in Agile and Scrum clients and stakeholders appear to have a much better understanding of their roles and responsibilities on the project. This should make life better for the PMs.

What is your experience or best practice in managing projects in the public sector in relation to Benefits and Value management?

Public sector projects do not have profit motives, and this changes the picture a bit. But there are other challenges in the public sector that impact benefits and value. I recommend you get a book entitled Public Sector Project Management by Wirick. It is a John Wiley publication and a good book.

How to benchmark business in government monopoly?

David Wirick wrote a book entitled Public Sector Project Management. The book is published by John Wiley. It shows the differences between public and private sectors, and you can easily then see the benchmarking issues.


What to do when we start a project in a company that does not have basic ideas about projects?

This is an invitation for disaster. My recommendation is education, and this includes senior management.

How to “sell” to upper management the need for training in PM for the executives?

My experience is that people external to the organization, such as consultants, have an easier time convincing them of the need for training. Executives may fear that internal people promoting training are trying in some way to “feather their own bed” so to speak.

What to do when Executive-Level management doesn’t want to attend education rollout strategies?

You need to find at least one executive champion to help you convince other executives of the importance of this. If all of the executives are in agreement that education at their level is not needed, I would update my resume.

What if your PMO refuses to adjust its methodology for business needs and only looks at itself first? How does an individual PM drive that change?

You may need to have a champion at the executive levels to assist you. All you need to find is just one executive to champion your cause. Otherwise, you will have difficulty.

What is the biggest challenge in project management?

The biggest challenge is overcoming the belief that companies have that one-size-fits-all with regard to a PM methodology. In the future, methodologies must be customized for each client. PMs need flexibility.

Do you have any recommendations for managing (and motivating) IT employees (technology or app dev folks) that are resistant to the change that digital transformation requires?

The architects of the corporate culture are the people that reside on the top floor of the building. If workers are afraid or being removed from their comfort zone, then there is a point where senior management must step in and “force” the changes to take place.

If the Sponsor refuses to attend or be a part of the project, should the PM propose for project cancellation rather than making decisions on behalf of the Sponsor, when he/she is not authorized?

I have lived through this scenario in a multitude of companies. What I tell PMs to do, is to make the decision yourself, and then e-mail the sponsor with your decision asking if they agree or disagree with your decision.  This basically forces them to act because there is now a paper trail.


Dr. Kerzner – thanks for the presentation. When you speak to the politics/religion/culture gaps – how did your daughter bridge the gaps between cultures? What other suggestions do you have to overcome these in short order if thrown into a global program?

My daughter learned from her global team members. They provided her with some educational insights. She wasn’t embarrassed to ask her global team members for advice and recommendations.

I’ve worked with multi-cultural teams and hit roadblocks due to how decisions are made. How do you suggest consensus be achieved across teams?

Believing that consensus can be achieved is probably wishful thinking. At the onset of a project, you must get the team to understand that you do not expect consensus on every challenge and that the team must go along with the vote or any other process you use. People must be prepared early on for disagreements and how decisions will be made.

How to measure whether a Project Manager has enquired sufficient Politics, Religion and Cultural skills?

At present, I do not see any measurements being made. However, in the future I expect to see metrics on projects measuring political exposure, religious exposure and cultural sensitivity. These metrics would be reported on dashboards along with other metrics such as time, cost and scope.

How to prioritize when there is a clash between benefits vs. politics and culture?

This is why we have project sponsors and governance committees to assist in the prioritization of constraints and sometimes alternatives.


You mentioned that you must have a failure mark for a project…what if failure is not an option?

If failure is not an option, then you must carefully look at the tradeoffs and alternatives. This is a common occurrence on projects that must abide by regulations such as projects for OSHA, EPA, Health and Safety, etc…

RE: Project Health Checks – What is an example of establishing a Failure Criteria, versus establishing a Success Criteria?

You are creating a new product for marketing and the sales force. The exit criteria might be to stop working on the project when the expected sales price reaches a certain value. There are degrees of success based upon the profits expected. The success criteria, which could be a mere image of the exit criteria, could be to develop a product than can sell for less than a certain dollar value.

Often, we set up the success factors for the finished project. By going agile it will be so very important to break down those success factors into smaller ones and going into a stepwise approach. How shall I connect these to stakeholders?

Every project can have a different definition of success. When working with stakeholders, step #1 is having an agreed upon definition of success. Step #2 is then working with the stakeholders to decide upon the metrics and critical success factors you will use to confirm throughout the project that success is achievable. This should be done at the beginning of the project and reported on dashboards periodically.


What’s the benefit of doing benefit harvesting? What’s the value to the company?

The results of a project are deliverables and outcomes. These, by themselves, have very limited value unless someone can harvest the benefits expected from them.

Dr. Kerzner, can you recommend any resources (authors, journals, etc.) to help educate PMs on the topic of Benefit Harvesting?

There are some books on Change Management that include benefits harvesting. I wrote a white paper for IIL on Benefits Realization and Value Management.

If benefit harvesting is part of project management then don’t you think it is taking a big piece of program management?

Yes, it is a massive piece of project management but many people haven’t realized it as yet.

Who exactly is harvesting benefits from the project in business environment? If the successful project outcome is then transferred to operations, it seems that operations colleagues are those that are harvesting benefits from the successful project.

Sales and marketing may be responsible for harvesting the benefits of new products created through projects. IT may be responsible for harvesting the benefits of new software to be used. Other projects that lead to change management initiatives may be transferred to specific groups in operations.

Hi Harold – great Keynote! Within organizations that commit to having project teams involved in benefit harvesting and value extraction, is there evidence that the number of projects delivered within that organization is reduced? If so, does the value delivered with this expanded focus outweigh what could be achieved by delivering more projects?

When companies learn how to create metrics to measure and report benefits and value, it will become easier to establish a portfolio of projects that maximizes the expected benefits and value to the firm. In this regard, the high value or high benefits projects will be prioritized. We will also then eliminate the “pet” projects of senior management that may or may not produce benefits. I would expect the number or projects to be reduced.

Dr. Kerzner, shouldn’t benefit harvesting be done before the project even begins, to identify the benefits and value the project will provide? Or, is benefit harvesting different from the process of Cost/Benefit Analysis, finding the ROI etc.? Thank you!

Benefits harvesting cannot be done until there are outcomes and deliverables; i.e. completed projects. Also, cost/benefit analysis is based upon a “guess” as to what the benefits will be, and usually the benefits are explained qualitatively, not quantitatively. The true C/B ratio and ROI cannot be determined accurately until after benefits harvesting.

Do we need to wait till we complete the project and realise the deliverable, then work on harvesting the benefits and then sustaining the values? Is it a linear relationship between those three elements of deliverables, benefits and values?

Very good question. I explained it as though it is linear. Actually, it is nonlinear if we work on projects where we can establish metrics for benefits and value and perform the measurements throughout the project. Unfortunately, most companies are not that mature yet and tend to perform benefits realization and value management after the project delivers an outcome. Agile and Scrum projects are an exception.

Great presentation, thank you. What do you see as the differences, if any, between change management and benefits harvesting?

Change management includes all of the activities that may have to be done at project completion to harvest the benefits.


Great information. The only one I wasn’t too clear on is the Impact of Mergers & Acquisitions on Project Management. Can you briefly summarize that one?

Whenever there are M&A activities, there will be a landlord and a tenant. Believing that there will be equal partners is not going to happen. The problem is when the landlord dictates to the tenant how project management should work even though the tenant has a superior approach to project management. Developing an agreed-upon approach that both parties will accept will take time.

If it takes years to realize benefits, how can executives decide if the exit criteria are applicable?

The exit criteria identify when to pull the plug on the project. The exit criteria on the project must be monitored throughout the life of the project, not only to see if it is still valid, but to see if it needs to be updated or changed.

I don’t think it depends on culture. I think it’s understanding the way people solve problems. Bridging adaptive and innovative problem-solving styles trumps culture.

I agree with you. There are books being written on a topic called “Design Thinking” which relates to innovation project management. Design thinking requires a total acceptance by the culture of a firm and may cause a new culture to be created that focuses on collaboration and decision-making. I am researching this topic now.

Have a question for Dr. Kerzner? Leave your comment below.

Harold Kerzner (M.S., Ph.D., Engineering, and M.B.A) 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 including Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling and Project Management 2.0. Dr. Kerzner has previously taught project management and business administration at Baldwin-Wallace University, engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University. He obtained his industrial experience at Thiokol Corporation where he held both program management and project engineering responsibilities on a variety of NASA, Air Force, Army, Navy and internal R&D programs.

PMI, PMBOK, and PMP are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Predictions for Project Management in 2017

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.
Senior Executive Director for 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 appears to be committed to project management education.

  1. 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.

    tire-swingExhibit 1: A Disagreement in Defining Project Success

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 learning@iil.com 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.

Top 10 Project Management Predictions for 2016

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.
Senior Executive Director for Project Management, IIL

Every year, the landscape for project management changes. Some of the changes often require considerable effort for implementation whereas other changes may be just cosmetic. But there’s one thing we can be sure about: change is inevitable. It will happen, the question being “When”?

We are in a rapidly changing evolutionary period which I refer to as “Project Management 2.0 (PM 2.0).” Even though many project management practitioners and educators have been expounding the birth and virtues of PM 2.0, sitting in the wings is PM 3.0 waiting to come on stage.

Below are the top ten predictions I am making for 2016 as a result of PM 2.0 and PM 3.0. Some of these predictions have already come true for some companies, but for the majority of firms these will happen in 2016.

  1. Executives will place more trust in the project manager and in project management overall.

    For decades, executives were afraid that project managers would be making decisions that were reserved for the executive levels of management. This limited the authority and decision-making abilities of the project managers. To make matters worse, there was a misbelief that project managers did not know enough about the business in order to participate in business decisions. In 2016, project managers will participate in both project- and business-related decisions and trust in project managers will increase.

  1. Project managers will manage more of the strategic projects.

    Historically, strategic projects were managed by functional managers because executives had limited trust and faith in the decision-making abilities of the project managers. All of this will change and project managers will assume responsibility for managing the portfolio of strategic projects.

  1. Project sponsorship by a single individual will be replaced by committee governance.

    As projects become larger and more complex, it is increasingly difficult for one person to provide all of the necessary support. Committee governance will replace traditional project sponsorship on many projects, especially those in the strategic portfolio.

  1. Corporate resource management practices will come of age.

    The biggest challenge facing most executives is that they do not know how much additional work the organization can take on without overtaxing the existing labor force. By establishing an effective capacity planning system, projects will be approved, added to the queue, and prioritized based upon resource availability. Effective resource management practices should allow us to design a portfolio of projects that will maximize the value that the company will receive.

  1. Structured business case development will become a necessity.

    All too often, projects are approved based upon an unstructured business case that is riddled with holes. Companies will develop templates for the preparation of a business case, accompanied by a benefits realization plan and a description of the value expected at project completion.

  1. “Value” will be the most important word in the project manager’s vocabulary.

    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.

  1. The need for paperless project management will grow.

    Companies will finally realize the cost of preparing useless reports and handouts that nobody wants nor reads. Paperless project management practices will be accompanied by a rapid growth in dashboard reporting of project performance. Executives can expect to see “real time” data on the dashboards rather than having to wait for months to pass by before a report is prepared. This should certainly allow for decisions to be made in a timely manner based upon evidence and facts rather than guesses.

  1. The number of metrics to be used on a project will increase.

    You cannot determine the actual performance of a project, or a project’s success, just by looking at time, cost, and scope. Let me say that again so that it sinks in: You cannot determine the actual performance of a project, or a project’s success, just by looking at time, cost, and scope. For more than five decades (that’s right, five decades) we have avoided looking at additional metrics because we did not know how to measure them. We looked at the easiest metrics to measure, namely time, cost, and scope. This is going to change. We may end up with 10-20 metrics on each project and the metrics can change in each life cycle phase.

  1. Tracking assumptions and constraints will become a necessity.

    For years, we took the easy way out during project execution and believed that the assumptions and constraints would remain fixed over the duration of the project. Now, some of the new metrics we develop will track the assumptions and constraints on projects. This will make it easier to redirect failing projects or those projects that will not provide the expected benefits and value.

  1. Project management maturity models will account for the changes in PM 2.0 and PM 3.0.

    There are several project management maturity models in the marketplace. Unfortunately, many of them have not kept up with the changes dictated by PM 2.0 and PM 3.0. All of this will change in 2016.

The above ten predictions are the ones that I consider critical for 2016. The introduction of PM 2.0 and PM 3.0 will bring forth additional changes.

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 learning@iil.com.

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-desktop”]Learn more about IIL’s Project Management training at www.iil.com/pm. [/trx_infobox]

Implementing Project Management Metrics: Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.
Senior Executive Director for Project Management, IIL

With the growth in project management metrics, KPIs and dashboard reporting systems, companies are improving their success to failure ratios on projects and strategic initiatives. But even though the path looks bright, all that glitters is not always gold, at least seen by those people that would be required to measure and report new metrics.

People tend to build up comfort zones at work and then adjust their energy cycle according to their comfort zone. Asking them to learn new techniques and report status differently may remove them from their comfort zone. When people believe their traditional comfort zone is in jeopardy of being changed, even if the change is for the better, they then come up with a variety of excuses as to why the new techniques should not be used. For almost five decades, project team members became accustomed to reporting just time and cost metrics/KPIs on their projects, and doing so with written reports. Now, we are asking them to report significantly more metrics/KPIs, and to do so using a dashboard reporting system.

There are numerous excuses that people identify as to why they should not have to learn anything new or change their work habits. Many times, the excuses are related to a fear of the unknown. But often there are other hidden agendas that people use to justify their dissatisfaction.

“Metrics and KPIs are an expensive and useless measurement technique.”

People know that metrics are not useless techniques and that they could never win an argument trying to defend the uselessness of metrics and KPIs. Therefore, they include in the same sentence the argument of “costliness” hoping to detract the person they are arguing with from the fact that metrics/KPIs are actually useful. When someone uses this statement, what they are really trying to say is that they are just plain lazy and do not want to improve their performance.

“Metrics and KPIs are costly to maintain and the benefits do not justify the cost.”

Once again, people try to hide the truth. If you perform a benefit-to-cost analysis on the use of metrics and KPIs, you will see quickly that the benefits will significantly outweigh the costs. The reason why people also argue in the same sentence that such programs are “costly to maintain” is because initially there is an upfront investment needed to initiate a metrics/KPI performance measurement system. The upfront cost will include selecting the appropriate metrics/KPIs, determining the best measurement techniques, designing the appropriate dashboards, and finally performance reporting. Once the initial steps are accomplished, the cost of maintaining such a system is minimal because dashboard updates can be done in minutes by updates to Excel spreadsheets that feed data to the dashboard images. Perhaps there could be a significant cost in the first year to set up such systems, but for the next ten years or longer, the cost savings, reduction in written reports, fewer costly meetings, improvements in decision-making, greater benefits realization, and value added to the business will make the initial costs appear insignificant.

“Metrics/KPI measurements are a waste of productive time.”

When all other arguments fail, people fall back on the excuse of unproductive time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Successful metric/KPI performance programs can measure and report information in real time. It is not uncommon for dashboards to be updated daily.

Employees will not support a metrics management effort that looks like a spying machine and can report worker productivity on a daily basis if necessary. Some people are very touchy about their performance being measured. When metrics and KPIs are reported in real time or daily, worker performance or lack of performance becomes quite evident. Workers that seem to slack off a lot during the workday tend to use this argument.

Perhaps the greatest fear that workers have with metric/KPI measurement and reporting is that the information will be used during performance reviews as justification for rewards as well as punishment. It is a very bad idea to have metrics used during performance reviews because:

  • The metrics/KPIs may be the result of more than one person’s efforts and it may be impossible to determine which person was solely responsible for a good or bad result.
  • Unfavorable results may have been due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control.
  • The true value of metric/KPI numbers may not be known until sometime in the future, thus leading to a performance review based upon incomplete information.
  • Employees may “fudge the numbers” to make them look better than they are, thus providing stakeholders and governance personnel with faulty performance reporting.
  • Employees in the same functional group may end up competing with one another for the best metric/KPI result rather than collaborating, and this could lead to suboptimal performance and decision making.

If you know that these situations can and will happen, then it should be obvious that a solution does exist. Whenever people are expected to learn new techniques and begin working differently, their first concern is “What’s in it for me?” Therefore, senior management must take the lead in the implementation of any metric/KPI management program and explain to the workers how they will benefit and that the metrics/KPIs will not be used as part of performance reviews. If this is not done, then the firm runs the risk of having the workers sabotage the new metric/KPI initiative. Upfront buy-in is essential and this should be driven from the top down.

As project managers, we’re all about the future!

By J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM 

What future am I talking about? The future of the project we’re currently managing. Why? Because everyone is obsessed with the future: you, your team, the boss, and the client.

Everyone wants to know: when will the project be done? How will it work? There’s a lot of anticipation. Yet, we are oftentimes poorly equipped to tell them, our stakeholders. We hedge our bets all the time, and we do so because we don’t regularly employ a good tool kit of techniques to help us do the hard work of predicting the future.

As project managers, we’re placed in the position of predicting the future on a daily basis, an activity that people around the world have been trying to do for thousands of years. And, they have resorted to a wide variety of very interesting techniques, such as consulting psychics and soothsayers, using Ouija boards, going to fortune tellers, and one of my all-time favorites, the Magic 8 Ball!

Of course I’m not suggesting that project managers should use any of these “tools and techniques!” I’m simply highlighting the fact that project managers are paid to do what billions of people have attempted to do  for thousands of years. Thankfully, we have better ways to do it.

How can you predict the future of your project? Here are three ways that can help.

  1. Practice Relentless Risk Analysis (RRA)

    Every time you have a meeting, use the top ten risks as your agenda. If you practice management by walking around (even if you do it virtually) you should always be asking your team and stakeholders questions about the future. For example: What risks do you see in the near term? What would we do if the top engineer left for another position? What’s the Plan B if we don’t receive the materials on time? After all, risk is a future phenomenon. The more we ask our team about risks, the more we encourage them to think about the future.

  2. Employ other tools and techniques such as strategy meetings, the Delphi technique, Monte Carlo analysis and Earned Value Management

    Convening meetings to perform scenario analysis, seeking advice from experts, using sophisticated quantitative techniques, and deciding the most appropriate formula for calculating your Estimate At Completion (EAC) are all ways you can gather the information you need to reasonably estimate where your project is headed. Reach out and engage others in the process. Project management is a team sport; use everyone and anyone you can to help.

  3. Identify your project’s “Leading” indicators and track them

    Many of the progress and performance metrics used on projects are lagging indicators. They tell us what happened in the past, and, as we know, we can’t change the past, we can only react to it. What metrics could you employ to help tell you about the future? One client used the number of tasks added to the schedule every two weeks  as a possible indication that the scope was increasing, thus impacting cost and schedule negatively. If the world’s top economists believe in lagging indicators, then you should too!

In order to reliably assess what the future holds for your project, you need to gather relevant data on a regular basis at frequent intervals. This not only instills a discipline in reporting but it enables you, the project manager, and others, to detect trends. If you are keeping track of trends, then you’ll be in a better position to see where those trends lead.

However, the key to such reporting is to ensure that the information we receive is credible. That means it is being provided by people who are trustworthy and telling the truth. It does you no good whatsoever to have your team members providing overly optimistic reports. You want the unvarnished truth. As a project manager, you simply cannot be the last know critical information that’s affecting your project.

Predicting the future isn’t easy. But with the right techniques and the right folks on the team, we can provide credible information to our stakeholders. After all, that’s what we’re paid to do isn’t it?

About J. LeRoy Ward

LeRoy Ward is a recognized thought leader in project, program, and portfolio management and the facilitator of IIL’s PM Cert On-Demand. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, LeRoy has presented to more than 200,000 professionals and authored nine publications. He is the 2013 recipient of PMI®’s Eric Jenett Award for Project Management Excellence.