By every measure, 2016 has been a huge year.
Pokémon trainers finally caught Pikachu outside of a video game console.
Beyoncé invented a new standard for exposing cheating husbands to the world.
And our sweet prince was taken from this earth too quickly.
Of course there was all that other bad stuff that happened, but you’re not here for what is now a history lesson. You’re here because you’re hungry to know how the project management field is going to change over the next twelve months.
You’re right to be curious. 2017 is going to be huge for project management.
Last year, we rounded up some huge 2016 project management predictions, like Microsoft Project’s loss in market share (Atlassian is creeping up!) and the growth derived from the merging of change management with traditional project management. The prior year, we predicted that the prevalence of PMPs would grow along with the emphasis on that year’s buzzword: “risk management.”
This year, we’re confident that we’re going call the most impactful project management trends of 2017. Read carefully; some of them may surprise you.
1. Agile project management will gain acceptance outside of software development.
Software development has long been the primary home of agile project management, but we’ve been steadily watching agile leak into industries outside IT. For example, there’s already an agile marketing manifesto, editorial staff often use kanban software to organize articles, and Scrum’s been used in finance for almost a half-decade now.
But these examples are discrete, a sampling of the very few industries that are even familiar with project management to begin with. And that’s about to change.
In just the past few months, agile project management has visibly crept into all industries. Graphic designers and UX professionals are using it. Agile is revolutionizing pet food product development. Even construction management has introduced agile to its workflows. IT no longer has a monopoly on the project management technique.
2. There will be a pivot that emphasizes nontraditional collaboration tools over traditional project management software.
One might expect an increase in agile’s popularity to necessitate more industry-specific software, but we’re not quite there yet (with exceptions for marketing and design).
Instead, 2017 will mark the beginning of a shift to collaboration software, like Slack and its alternatives, from existing project management software. Gartner explains that the “applications are already in use,” which encourages adoption and change management within the workforce. In other words, because they’re used to using Yammer or Jive, they would likely prefer to stick with those options.
While the trend itself is bound to take effect in 2017, Gartner cautions that because these collaboration tools are not built for project management, users will have to make adjustments. Gartner suggests, “Employees agree on basic methods of communication, such as ‘@’ mentions to include team members and hashtags for red flags.” Adopting these systems will require strong change management skills from the lead project manager.
3. “NPD PPM” won’t just be jargon anymore.
NPD PPM, or new product development project portfolio management software (see why there’s already an acronym?), has started to slowly creep into enterprise product development organizations—some sample brands include Decision Lens, GenSight, PDWare, Planview, Sopheon, and UMT360.
Gartner attributes the merging of NPD and PPM to agile’s widespread adoption and the Internet of Things. It explains, “Consumers pitted against talented product developers drive the need for product innovation that can never be ‘fast enough or ‘agile enough’ to meet market demands… The Internet of Things and digitalization are pressuring product companies and their product innovation and development teams to strategize, prioritize, select, source and execute projects designed to deliver continuous new and improved products to a vast majority of markets.” Since existing, general PPM software cannot address either of those needs, NPD PPM is sure to emerge as a winner this year.
And as agile spreads from IT to other industries, so too will NPD PPM; innovators will no longer be locked into software applications and development, but will also be able to apply these tactics to offline products.
4. Emotional intelligence will be the most-desired skill for new project managers.
Call it project management personality assessments, the right candidate “feel,” charisma, or just “soft skills.” Whatever it is to you, emotional intelligence (EQ) is about to get a lot more important to project managers.
Emotional intelligence is, according to Psychology Today,
The ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.
It is generally said to include three skills:
- Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
- The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
- The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
Every year, Six Seconds: The Emotional Intelligence Network comes out with a State of the Heart survey, which aims to look at global emotional intelligence trends across the world. In State of the Heart 2016, it found the following:
- Emotional intelligence scores are massively correlated with performance, with 55% of the variation in four key success factors predicted by EQ.
- Managers effectively display optimism at a 13% higher rate than non managers.
- Leaders who use their emotional resources to foster “engagement” (a sense of caring and commitment) deliver significant bottom-line results. Teams with higher engagement are: 50% more likely to have lower turnover. 56% more likely to have higher-than-average customer loyalty. 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. 27% more likely to report higher profitability.
Yet, in spite of these huge motivators for businesses to invest in emotional intelligence, scores on “Total EQ” are continuing to decline internationally.
Unsurprisingly, IT is already the laggard in emotional intelligence across industries.
What all this means is that more research is going to come out on the importance of emotional intelligence and IT will face increasing pressure to find emotionally competent leadership.
PM skills are, of course, a “must” when applying to new jobs. But so is emotional intelligence, especially if you want to positively differentiate yourself in the IT and telecom industries.
5. Project management certification requirements will begin to dwindle in job postings.
I know I’ve written quite a bite about project management certifications, but hear me out.
Their heyday won’t last forever.
The PMP exam and PRINCE2 have been around since 1984 and 1989, respectively. There are a lot of certified project managers. But many have begun calling into question the value of their certification—along with its accompanying cost.
For example, Lauren Maffeo, project management expert at GetApp concludes that PMP certifications just aren’t worth it. She writes, “exam content isn’t updated often enough to keep pace with today’s small business needs.”
Small businesses have lost their interest in PMPs—they just want someone who can manage projects and do it well. Larger companies are sure to follow suit… once they take the “PMP” requirement off their applicant tracking systems, the PMP itself will become moot.
The takeaway? If you’re happily secure in your job as a PM, it might not be worth paying the recertification fee this year.
Project Management Trends in 2017: Is there more to it?
I’m sure that there are other project management trends coming in 2017. What’d I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
Interested in more project management trends? Check out these articles:
- I, Project Manager: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
- 4 Groundbreaking Project Portfolio Management Predictions for 2022
- How ‘Getting Things Done’ Changed My Life: 5 Lessons I Learned
- Business Agile and the Future of Project Management
- The 18 Worst Project Management Buzzwords (And What They Actually Mean)
- 7 of the Best Microsoft Project Alternatives
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.