Increasing productivity is an ever-present goal for project managers, and the evolution of the project management discipline is positioning PMs for success. As project managers, it is essential to be aware of industry trends and to ascertain how they can be incorporated into your projects and organizations.
Here are some key trends project managers should be aware of going into 2018:
Organizations Evaluating PPM vs Earned Value Management
Managing the performance of a project is one of the biggest challenges project managers face. PMs are responsible for performance, and best practices state that project managers should check the status of any project in relation to deliverable goals on a regular basis.
There are different methodologies PMs can implement to track a project’s progress, but one methodology has been proven to be more accurate at tracking performance, as well as offering predictions for the future of a project, and that’s earned value management (EVM).
Earned value management, Tom Mochal, PMP, explains, offers PMs the ability to compare where they are in a project to where they are supposed to be in terms of baseline schedule and budget. EVM integrates cost, schedule and scope to create data points to be used to evaluate progress.
Look for more organizations to adopt EVM. In upcoming posts, we will explore the evolution of PPM with EVM, and why there is such a strong business case for the latter.
The Blending Of Project Management Methodologies
Blended project management methodology incorporates the best practices of various methodologies to successfully plan, manage and deliver projects. Agility has disrupted traditional delivery methodologies, and companies are learning that they need to blend agile and waterfall to deliver results.
Arvind Rongala, head of global training delivery at Invensis, explains that the waterfall methodology is more of an assembly-line focused methodology, with a phase-based approach and minimal communication between individuals and teams. The focus is on completion in sequential order. Agile focuses on function and delivery, with the flexibility to make adjustments during a project. Individuals and teams are more empowered than in traditional methodologies.
The key benefits that arise from blending these two methodologies, as Ulf Eriksson at ReQtest notes, are improving predictability in a project and the ability to respond quickly to feedback throughout the project.
Blending these two approaches is proving successful as organizations are spending less time debating the approach and instead focusing on getting results. The “right” methodology varies by company and project; the important thing is to analyze the requirements for each job and select the best method, or combination of methods, to complete the project.
Utilizing Artificial Intelligence To Streamline Processes
Robots will soon automate 80 percent of repetitive tasks done by people, which will free people to utilize their brains for work that requires creativity and innovation, says Computer Weekly journalist Karl Flinders.
Automation technologies are simplifying and improving project management processes, and Francesco D’Alessio envisions the end goal of AI in the workplace as a “hub of productivity” with a system that detects your workflow, interacts with other resources, accepts your planning process, and provides actionable insights and suggestions for day-to-day operations.
Taher Behbehani posits that artificial intelligence improves productivity by doing away with so much paper and centralizing easily accessible information; cutting into wasted meeting time by identifying additional information triggered by workflow demands; easing the ability to work remotely; and reducing communication distractions.
The full potential for AI in the workplace has yet to be realized, but with technology such as IBM Watson, AI will continue to grow in influence and usability in workplace processes. Project managers should keep abreast of advances in AI that can be applied to their processes and improve productivity.
Integrating Change Management and Project Management
Change management and project management are closely related disciplines, and they will see further integration in the future. Tim Creasey, chief innovation officer at Prosci, says that 77 percent of organizations studied reported an integration between these two disciplines.
As Creasey writes, change management involves equipping and preparing individuals for the changes required for an upcoming project. Change management methodologies provide consistency and structure to a project, allowing for easier adaptation to change within projects.
George Pitagorsky, PMP explains that project managers are responsible for minimizing change and disruption in a project. He says that PMs need to be resilient leaders who are able to keep all stakeholders calm. This is where the blending of change management with project management comes in. Pitagorsky offers guidelines for PMs to resiliently manage change:
- acknowledge that everything, including the plan, is subject to change;
- be prepared to manage the plan as the project unfolds;
- continually assess risk to identify and plan for change;
- and communicate frequently with stakeholders.
PMs who become adept at change management will be better prepared to lead their teams in times of change.
Using Wearables In The Workplace
Wearables can help increase productivity in the workplace in a variety of ways. A study conducted by experts from Goldsmiths, University of London and technology company Rackspace showed that wearable devices increased productivity by 8.5 percent and job satisfaction by 3.5 percent.
As Dr. Chris Brauer, lead researcher on the project, noted, data generated from the devices can be used by organizations to “learn how human behaviors impact productivity, performance, well-being, and job satisfaction.” Employees can use the data to demand better work environments and hours for their optimum productivity and health.
One the biggest drivers of productivity is healthy employees, and wearables have become a key asset for employers who are encouraging a healthier workforce. A study by Willis Towers Watson showed that 94 percent of employers plan to develop, by 2018, a workplace culture that supports and enables employees in their pursuit of well-being while holding employees accountable for their health. To this end, some employers have started providing employees with fitness trackers to measure health.
Career consultant Heather R. Huhman points out that wearables such as RFID badges can also streamline day-to-day task management — like transacting payments and monitoring traffic flow in certain areas of a building. Smart glasses allow you to share what you are seeing remotely, which is great for field service workers. Jobsite notes that sensors in wearables could be used to detect fatigue in shift-work employees.
Wearable technology comes in many different forms, including watches, chip implants, sensors in clothing and ID badges, to any number of options that may be developed in the near future. Companies have the ability to tailor wearable technology to suit their needs. But success of these technologies in increasing productivity depends upon the value created in the user experience. It is also a fine line to walk on the issue of privacy.
More Emphasis On Skills, Less On Certifications
Traditionally, employers sought out project managers with PMP and/or PRINCE2 certifications. But leaders are starting to question the value of these certifications, especially in terms of the costs involved, and whether they should be given so much importance.
As the team at ProProfs explains, it is expensive to acquire these certifications, and the assessments required for certification seem to have become outdated and out of touch with modern business needs. Companies are shifting their hiring practices to closer examine professionals that demonstrate skills in project management, rather than certification.
This trend highlights the importance of hands-on skills for project managers. Go for the certification if you can, but don’t let that be the end goal as you progress through your career. Focus on developing the skills required for you to do your job well.
Developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Capabilities
Nigel Kirkman says emotional intelligence has become imperative for project managers. It is no longer enough for PMs to have only technical skills. Project management is morphing to also require soft skills such as relationship development, team building, collaboration and negotiation.
According to Karen Davey-Winter, PMP, EQ is necessary for project managers to be able to operate in complex environments of people and resources, build teams that they can lead, and manage change. She notes that if PMs can perceive the emotions of others, manage their own emotions and use emotions to improve decision-making, they can enhance their ability to solve problems and successfully deliver projects.
Susanne Madsen, project management coach and author, explains that people with high EQ are able to interpret the emotions of others and understand how other people feel, making them stronger leaders. This leadership ability is key for project managers and their success in inspiring productivity. Emotional capabilities also encourage engagement and inspire loyalty, which reduces employee turnover.
Project managers who can develop emotional intelligence capabilities will be better positioned for future success in their roles.
Embracing The Future Of Project Management
These trends, and more, are going to have a significant impact on project management in the near future. You would be doing yourself a disservice to ignore the trends instead of embracing them as a means for improving productivity within your organization.