Top 10 Project Management Predictions for 2020

5 January 2020
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Beyond the usual merriment and hullabaloo that inevitably accompanies the holiday season; this particular end of year stands out as it also marks the closing of a decade.

More than usual, this unwitting milestone prompts us to reflect on our accomplishments and failures, not only of the past year but of the past ten; and contemplate our objectives for the coming ten.


The world of project management too braces itself for the start of a new chapter. With things progressing at an ever-increasing pace, it’s no time to slack off and get stuck in old routines that are sure to be detrimental to your progress. Setting out your goals and understanding how to reach them is key; so, embrace the future and its novelties so you may flourish in the new decade. Here are 10 predictions for Project Management in 2020 to set you on the right track.



  1. Implementing a mix of methodologies.

Having already lost traction these past years, the concept of sticking to one methodology when managing a project is now truly a thing of the past; and a strategy that could prove detrimental to the outcome. The more project management methodologies one can master, the greater the scope of options to resort to. Keeping up with the new challenges of more complex projects requires more than flexibility; it requires the ability to identify which parts of which methodology or combination of them will be most effective when and re-adjust if needed as the project evolves.



  1. Acquiring technological skills…

Following from trend #1; coping with an array of methodologies means that project managers, and those involved in the project management environment, must handle the complexity and new challenges of a growing toolbox. A PM must not only be able to identify the right methodology but adapt and integrate technology based on the needs of the project at hand. This will require them to acquire at least basic knowledge and keep pace with advancements in an array of areas including robotics, blockchain, data science, machine learning, etc. Digital skills such as data science, security, privacy knowledge and the ability to make data-driven decisions are part of the repertoire of tomorrow’s successful PMs.



  1. …and mastering soft skills. 

Just as the demand for technical skills is on the rise, the increasing complexity and interconnection of projects will in turn call for the mental fortitude and social skills of its teams. In order to sell their project ideas and accomplish them by collaborating with broader groups of stakeholders, PMs will need to be masters of negotiation and communication. And, the more AI is involved in the process, the more a PM will need to assume the role of a motivational leader, empathetic listener, expert organizer and adroit coordinator. Organizations will be looking for PMs that can steer through today’s chaotic digital disruptions but also have the human skills to add insight and value to the technology. In other words, tomorrow’s successful PMs will be multi-skilled and able to manage both technology and people.




  1. Learning to embrace AI and Data Intelligence

As AI pushes us into our fourth industrial revolution, it’s only normal that it continues to feature as a trend for several years now. Because it continues to have growing influence in all fields it justifiably remains on the agenda. From the project management point of view, above all AI helps to optimally allocate resources, but also to provide real-time scheduling of operations and improve decision making at different stages of project implementation; especially true for complex projects which account for a majority of today’s projects. So, although it’s clear that PMs are not going to be replaced by AI today, or even tomorrow – it helps to learn how to handle it well as it is here to stay and you might as well reap the maximum benefits from it.



  1. Increasingly diverse project teams

The resource pool available to PMs is ever widening with the rise in remote working and freelancers, which are blurring frontiers and the need for static office sites. Variety is, however, not the only attractiveness; remote workers/freelancers offer flexibility, clear task assignment, time saving and effective results. This increase in options comes at no extra financial burden but does give rise to a need for high standards of visibility and communication for resources. Team dynamics and day to day collaboration may become more complicated with a mix of full time, part time, freelance and remote resources all working on the same project. But the overall results justify the fact that remote working is the new way of working on a project. And this does not exclude PMs themselves!



  1. The ability to use information

In the past, data research constituted one of any project’s tasks. Thanks to our present ability to collect vast amounts of data, all the information we need is now at the tips of our fingers. All that’s left for project managers is to apply this data to the project. However, it’s important to be able to filter and identify the components of data that are relevant to your project outcome whether it’s for planning, task distribution, forecasting, risk allocation or managing changes. The demands of project management are greater than ever but so are the resources and data available; so, the ability to use them well is key to successful results.



  1. The Kanban revisited

Brought to us by Toyota back in the 50s, you might rightfully say that there is nothing new or “trendy” about the Kanban. If anything, it’s a veteran in today’s diversified project management toolbox; which, underlines its undisputable success as an organizational tool. Although it never left the stage, this year the Kanban will once again take a more prominent role thanks to the rise in remote working and freelancing. Kanban sustains centralized project management and offers a better organization of work between remote team members. Its visual aspect means changes can easily be tracked but it also makes it flexible; something essential when working with flexible teams.


  1. Training of newcomers

Many on-going trends revolve around the various skill sets one must have or seek to acquire. This has expectedly created a competitive environment with a growing population of skilled professionals for companies to choose from. But years of lasting trends lead to the production of people who can execute but not necessarily provide added value. This has given rise to the training of less performant resources that have less experience; as they bring not only a new, fresh perspective but are also more motivated to prove themselves. This injection of energy is sometimes what is needed to jolt a stagnant management and move forward with the implementation of new approaches.


  1. Relying on diverse SaaS platforms

The increasing trend towards remote project teams (see #5) is creating the need for different SaaS tools to handle them. Cloud-based solutions are needed to manage teams from anywhere and can range from project management solutions to collaborate on projects and conferencing solutions for coordination, to accounting software for billing/invoicing and time-tracking software for progress reporting. In other words, PMs will have to get familiar with a range of tools to be able to implement the most relevant to their teams so that they can efficiently manage them and also because stakeholders will be expecting them to do so.


  1. Doubling up on security

With the breakthrough offered by technological advancement, come also the pitfalls; in the form of increasingly numerous and skilled cybercriminals. The digital nature of today’s projects, especially with remote teams collaborating, mean project data is vulnerable and can be lost or stolen in an instant. No solution guarantees total security, which is why aside from investing in security software, PMs should exercise vigilance. Backing up files, best practices in encrypting files in storage and transfer… Understanding and implementing extra security measures to handle sensitive data on the cloud can only help; and one can only hope that they will remain redundant.

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