3 Biggest Project Management Trends Shaping 2020

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Learn about the top three project management trends that can boost employee efficiency and drive project success.

Biggest project management trends in 2020

Since Henry Gantt created the Gantt chart, the art and science of project management have changed significantly with the rise of digital technologies. Today, specialized project management solutions are core to a large number of businesses for planning projects efficiently and boosting employee productivity.

In fact, 52% of respondents in one of our surveys say that such tools are critical to their business (Read about our survey methodology here).

But it’s not just time-proven software like project management tools that businesses are interested in. There is an increasing willingness to explore newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Twenty-five percent of small- and midsize-business leaders we surveyed say they are planning to use these two technologies in the next one or two years.

That said, just the willingness to explore new technology is not enough. There needs to be deep research on whether new technologies such as AI and ML are investment-worthy and relevant to one’s project management team.

But the time and resources required for such research are not something everyone has at disposal!

If you’re one of those, this article is for you. To give a starting point, we have put together this list of the three biggest project management trends to look out for in 2020.

Trend #1: Artificial intelligence will reinvent project management

Businesses can no longer ignore AI project management technologies unless they want their competition to steer ahead. Like it or not, AI is a project management trend that will significantly change how we work in the future and you need to prepare for it.

Pointing out the future impact of AI on project management, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 69% of the routine tasks currently performed by managers (such as filling forms and updating project information) will be fully automated owing to AI and other emerging technologies.

Building a chatbot in Morph.ai

Building a chatbot in Morph.ai (Source)

What this means for your business: Algorithmic management will likely take over middle management in organizations. In other words, AI will take up the bulk of traditional and repetitive project tasks, which will allow you to build project management teams that can focus on more non-routine cognitive jobs, such as improvising a process, that deliver better project outcomes.

Successful adoption of AI applications in your organization will require identifying the right tools and technologies. There are a plethora of AI solutions in the market, from neuromorphic hardware to RPA tools, and selecting the right options is not going to be easy.

What your business should do: To minimize the risk of investing in the wrong solutions, don’t go about looking for AI tools that may fit your use case or business model. Start the other way around and analyze the gaps and inefficiencies at your end, and then look for AI solutions to fill those gaps or hammer out the inefficiencies.

Visit our artificial intelligence software category to find and compare AI solutions that can automate different project management processes for your business.

Trend #2: Wearables will be increasingly used in construction project management

Similar to the consumer space, the commercial sector is witnessing a growing trend of wearables such as wristbands, smart glasses, sensors, and smart clothing. The use of such technology is expected to accelerate, as 40% of frontline workers are likely to use wearables as their primary compute devices by 2023 (full content available to Gartner clients only).

This puts businesses in the construction and related fields (transportation, material moving, building maintenance, extraction, etc.) quite literally at the frontline, as frontline workers make up about half of their workforce.

Solepower smart boot

Smart Boot designed by SolePower (Source)

What this means for your business: Wearables offer several advantages, such as the ability to remotely train frontline workers via smart glass or ensure worker safety via alerts from sensor-fitted boots.

That said, having a clear set of project management goals before adopting wearable technology is important. Since it’s a big trend, there are a multitude of offerings on the market, and having a defined strategy to leverage this trend is crucial if you want to avoid immature products.

What your business should do: Try to cut through the clutter and identify products that can offer tangible benefits in the short-run and require minimal investment.

A good place to start would be industry reports to check the type of wearables your industry peers are currently using. We have one report on wearable technology innovations to get you going on your research.

Visit our construction management software category to learn about more tools that can help you achieve higher project success rates.

Trend #3: Remote working will become mainstream

Many businesses quickly instituted remote work as a survival measure to weather the COVID-19 crisis. But remote working will soon evolve beyond being an emerging trend and become mainstream as Generation Z replaces former generations in the workforce. Gartner predicts the demand for remote work will increase by 30% by 2030 due to stronger preference by this newer generation (content available to Gartner clients only).

Chanty live chat software

Employee conversations in Chanty (Source)

What this means for your businesses: Remote working will make peer-to-peer connections virtual and create a vacuum in place of physical interactions. Remote collaboration technologies and workforce management strategies will need to be brought in to ensure that the vacuum doesn’t impact normal business operations.

This means your traditional project management tools and processes will become less effective at best, and obsolete at worst. As a result, your projects will slouch or come to a grinding halt.

What your business should do: Build a mix of collaboration and employee management solutions by matching business priorities with team preferences.

The important consideration here is to not overlook team preferences. This aspect is easily sidelined by heavier business priorities, and that’s where many organizations tend to go wrong. After all, you can lead the horse to the water but you can’t make the horse drink!

There are some essential solutions that can help in managing projects when working with a remote team.

  • Collaboration software can help your remote teams communicate (via live chat, messages, etc.) and share project-related information.
  • Resource management software allows managers to allocate tasks according to the availability and skill set of remote workers.
  • Employee monitoring software comes with capabilities such as computer idle/active time and browser history that are essential for tracking remote workers’ productivity.
Visit our remote work software category page to find and compare solutions that can automate different project management processes for your remote teams.

All in all, technology will dominate

Leveraging new digital technologies will give you an advantage over your competitors. These technologies will save tremendous amounts of effort and time a project manager wastes on routine work, allowing the person to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as performance improvement or goal management, that will result in stronger project outcomes.

Moreover, these tools and technologies will also boost team collaboration, while improving their efficiency and safety at work.

For more information on project management technologies that can boost employee productivity and efficiency check out our project management software category page.


Capterra’s 2019 Top Technology Trends Survey

Capterra conducted this survey from June-August 2019 among 539 U.S.-based small and midsize business leaders. Companies were screened by size for those with 2-249 employees and enterprise-wide annual revenue of less than $100 million. The qualified respondents were required to be involved in purchasing technologies for the organization and to hold a position of manager or above in the company.

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Pritam Tamang

Pritam Tamang

Pritam is a Content Analyst at Capterra and Software Advice. He writes technology research reports centered around small business project management. His areas of interest are SaaS technologies, content marketing and agile/lean thinking.

Comments

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I hate to be a Grinch but “trial and error” product development methods date back over a million years to the taming of fire and 6000 years to the invention of the wheel. During the 12th Century, this method became known as the “Scientific Method” and led to the invention by Bell of the telephone and Edison of the light bulb. It is only our IT colleagues who have “discovered” this method and named it “Agile”.

If we look at this from the perspective of the various “delivery methods” to develop new products or services” (organizational assets) we find there are 3 generic models:
1) Operations Management- where the scope or objectives are VERY well defined and the process to develop or deliver them are not tolerant of much or even any change;

2) Project Management- where the scope or objectives are reasonably well, but not totally defined and the process to develop or deliver them are tolerant of limited change;

3) “Trial and Error” or “Scientific Method” or “Agile”- where the scope or objectives are not well defined in advance and may not even be known, and the process to develop or deliver them are not only tolerant of change, but change is expected;

These delivery methods have been part and parcel of mankind’s development and evolution since we started walking erect and will continue to be part and parcel of our development until such time as we turn all thinking over to robots, so let us not pretend that there really is much “new” to asset, portfolio, program or project management that has not been done before. The only real changes I see are more automation, which, given the fact that the processes we currently use don’t consistently deliver “successful” projects, probably is not a great move, but let’s see.

BR,
Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

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Great piece with powerful insights on the direction of project management. I work alot in this space and would offer that in addition to what was described, business and IT will start to meld into more capability driven alignment.

The largest companies are starting to realize that one of the most important attributes of small companies is that they focus on flow efficiency not resource efficiency.

Small businesses are comprised of T-shaped people that swarm on business problems using a wide range of skills. Large enterprise organizations tend to focus on ensuring every resource is utlized and end up assigning people to multiple projects often with competing priorities. The future of project management is going to change to focus on understanding throughput using Kanban and Lean techniques to reduce waste and increase business value throughput. Project management will be a shared responsibility amongst self-managed teams leveraging virtual ondemand computing capacity, data lakes, IoT and Artificial Intelligence and the continuous testing and deployment emphasized by DevOps.

I think the role of a project manager starts to disappear when companies stop thinking of projects and instead think of what they want to invest in capabilities. I know this sounds contrarian (and I have a PgMP, PMP, PMI-ACP and teach formal project managment courses) but i think future project managers will be scrum masters, kanban facilitators, release train engineers or business value delivery coordiantors.

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Good point about the emerging rise of Millennials into the ranks of PMPs. I obtained my PMP certification about 13 years ago, which would have placed me in that segment you listed.

As an extension of that point, I believe the project management training and learning may also need change. I personally found the courseware when I was seeking PMP training was boring and dry. I guess that Millennials are going to be even less accepting of such training options. Hence, I am excited to see online PMP training becoming more colorful, interactive, dynamic, and mobile. I am most impressed with this one: http://www.thecrowdtraining.com/pm6 [Are you aware of others like this?]
With luck there will be more training options like these so that produces more talented and certified project managers.

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I use the iSmart.Life application to plan my tasks and projects and monitor their implementation. This is a very simple and convenient application. The application has many useful features: notes, projects, budgets, reports, etc.

[…] Article was written by Rachel Burger for Capterra Project Management Blog […]

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Rachel,

A good piece lots to think about there but fundamentally I have to say as someone who comes from an engineering background and moved into IT later on I’m not sure it is about the rest of business catching up with IT in terms of finally recognising PM. More like the circle is completing with PM coming back to it’s source!

I agree it is returning rejuvenated, strengthened etc. and hopefully that momentum will kick us round increased cycles and speed of development to the advantage of everybody.

What will be interesting is how well traditional engineering/manufacturing business adopts agile, there is lots of skepticism still. They see how it works in R&D but much less so how it helps in other areas. We will all watch, learn and grow.

Cheers

Malc

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