The focus of the Project Manager today is more about delivering the right things: we’re now expected to be more involved with senior-level decisions and prove we’re delivering value.
In 10 years’ blogging about the project management industry on GirlsGuideToPM.com I’ve seen many changes and many trends come and go. For example, the recent shift in mobile technology allows Project Managers to work more flexibly. Equally, the increase in virtual teams, spearheaded by the millennial generation in the workforce, is causing the command and control management style to disappear. Millennials have never known a world that’s not virtual and this is bringing new ideas and new approaches to the industry, with more to come.
An increasing need for continuing professional development (CPD)
As the industry changes, owners of best practices like PRINCE2® or PMI* bring out more qualifications and guidance to support Project Managers in their roles. However, something vital that would add to this picture in 2016 is a CPD programme that gives industry professionals a clear career path, regardless of what ‘family’ their qualifications belong to. An innumerable amount of my blog readers ask me what roles they can take on with certain qualifications or what certifications they need to get a particular job. This needs much greater clarity and should be where owners of best practice are focusing their efforts this year.
[AXELOS editor’s note: that’s exactly what AXELOS is doing with our Professional Development Programme!]
Employers are often ill-equipped to differentiate who really understands and can use the PPM qualifications shown on their CV and who merely sits the latest exams without absorbing the knowledge. An industry, non-partisan CPD programme that awards individuals for gaining knowledge and using it would address this issue and make it easier for employers to hire the right people for them.
Four trends to look out for in 2016
1. Virtual Teams
Virtual teams are something that will be the norm in 2016 – in fact they already are; in Thomas P. Wise’s book, Trust in Virtual Teams, virtual teams are defined as people who use technology to communicate. So, each time you send an email, use Google Chat or call people using Skype or Microsoft Link at work, then you’re working virtually, even if the person you are mailing sits next to you. You could be anywhere in the world thanks to technology and could effectively manage a project from London when the project itself is in Sydney. Because co-located teams are becoming the unusual thing, the virtual team is a trend that you should embrace.
2. Collaboration Technology
Collaboration technology should be on the rise but Deloitte’s Shift Index metrics show that corporate social media use (like LinkedIn groups) is declining. With virtual teams, collaboration technology would significantly help Project Managers to access people all over the world and across time zones. Collaboration tools also allow Project Managers to archive far easier than in the past, where anecdotal knowledge that PMs picked up over the years was passed on only verbally and never saved.
[AXELOS editor’s note: file sharing tools are being used increasingly to support collaboration in project management but with the important inclusion of change control to ensure that any proposed changes receive the necessary authorization.]
3. Change Management Skills
Over the years it’s become clear that change management skills are not as good as they need to be in order for PMs to do a more complete job. In start-ups or smaller organizations – even in agile organizations – Project Managers probably understand change management and how to implement it correctly. However, in larger organizations, employers now require PMs to do more. The role has expanded and Project Managers need to ensure changes are fully accepted by the organization or risk projects failing after completion. Stay relevant and learn these skills in 2016.
4. Soft Skills
Underlying every trend I’ve mentioned are soft skills; being able to manage virtual teams, to implement change management techniques successfully and manage risk. Soft skills are the cornerstone of the Project Manager role: you’re getting the project done by delegating to others and to do that successfully you must have the right soft skills for the job.
2016 is about improving your skills as the project management role evolves and for best practice companies it should be about making succession planning an easier experience for the entire industry and less about getting new guidance into the arena.
See our PRINCE2 section for more information about project management.
'PMI' is a registered mark of Project Management Institute, Inc. PMI is not affiliated with AXELOS. PMI does not endorse any AXELOS Qualifications.
Elizabeth Harrin is the author behind GirlsGuideToPM.com, an award-winning project management blog now in its tenth year. Elizabeth has also written three project management books including 'Social Media for Project Managers', the second edition of which will be published later this year.