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7 Project Management Trends for 2016

2016 Project Management Trends

As we close out 2015, it’s time to look at some project management trends we can expect to see in 2016. Market forces continue to influence how businesses manage their projects. To prepare for what’s ahead, here are seven project management industry trends to watch for in 2016.

1. Project managers and their teams become thought leaders

While not everybody is a writer or speaker, 2016 is going to see further growth in the importance of content marketing and thought leadership content for businesses. Project managers and their teams are increasingly asked to become subject matter experts for corporate blog posts, eBooks, webinars, and other content promoting their organization’s expertise.

While 2016 doesn’t mean that every project manager is going to become a technology journalist, it does mean that project managers are going to have to get better at capturing their team’s story, the project’s story (think case study), and the technology stack during the project life cycle. The better story is going to be told by organizations that include thought leadership during the project life cycle; not as an all hands on deck when the project is nearing completion—and the technical staff is more focused on shipping the product.

2. Project management joins the sales cycle

Cloud-based project management platforms and application programming interfaces (APIs) give businesses the tools to kick off projects much earlier in the sales cycle than ever before. You can expect early adopters, especially in the professional services sector to integrate their project management platform with their company’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This new integration is going to put project managers earlier in the sales cycle than ever before.

For example, project managers could be called upon to budget resources and balance schedules before a deal is even signed—making a potential schedule and budget another sales tool.

So the project manager is going to need to become more knowledgeable about the data their back-end systems generate, and even how to effectively support a sales cycle if needed.

3. DevOps makes for a new breed of project manager

Historically, there has always been a line drawn between development and operations. But this is changing. As DevOps gains in popularity in 2016, it will have a profound impact on project management. While some opinions say that project management can’t scale, I’m not sure that I see the project manager role going away. Rather, I see the project manager in a DevOps environment growing into more of a broker role, This is because automation and cloud platforms are streamlining traditional project manager tasks, including schedule updates, status communication, task management, resource management and schedule management.

The project manager still needs to step in and resolve internal and external issues and conflicts and manage change for their team.

4. Project managers become entrepreneurs

Not billing to a customer project is never a good thing regardless of the economy. In today’s climate of mergers and acquisitions, tight budgets and contract work, project managers need to be as entrepreneurial and hungry as a Shark Tank contestant.

Externally facing, the project manager becomes more entrepreneurial the more they participate in the sales cycle. While project managers in professional services organizations may already be part of the sales cycle there’s always room to improve in the joint sales call. This occurs when a company salesperson brings along a project manager to a sales call to answer technical and process related questions for a potential customer.

As internal forces press down on an organization, it’s up to the project manager to always be selling their team and its latest projects to executives. For example, when a company is going through a merger or acquisition, the entrepreneurial project manager is going to want to sell their team as indispensable to the newly combined company. Tactics include being on the right high-profile projects and communicating to decision makers how their team benefits the organization’s bottom line and intellectual property portfolio.

5. More organizations rethink and rebrand change management

Long ago change management became too complex of a task. More companies are going to modify their change management strategies to become more focused on their end user communities.  It’s up to project managers to help with that rebrand of change management by distilling an existing change management methodology to its most important elements. Then, PMs will have to work with other stakeholders to craft a new change management process that’s more agile and better-suited for their end user community.

6. IoT has a profound impact on project management

The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to have a profound impact over project management. Tim Clark captures some best practices about how to start an IoT project team, but that’s only the beginning for some project managers ramping up for IoT-based projects.

Depending on your industry, when customers start requesting IoT, you could see an uptick in cybersecurity requirements, new development tools for your team to learn, new software and hardware testing techniques, and deploying new tools like beacons and specialized handheld devices like barcode readers.

7. Mobile first projects change the scope of projects

Mobile devices aren’t going away in the enterprise. Nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed in the VMware State of Business Mobility Report 2015 report that they are actively re-engineering or have plans to re-engineer a core business process to achieve business mobility. Those numbers translate into more than three-quarters of all of the companies surveyed undergoing a major strategic mobile shift in the upcoming months. Project managers will be the ones leading this strategic mobile shift that will have a ripple effect on all phases of the project lifecycle from development through deployment.

Happy 2016 project managers!

These trends will join with the continuing push to Agile development making 2016 another interesting year for project managers.

If your team or organization is ready to try an Agile way of managing work, we can give you a preview. To learn a bit of Agile history and how it works for different businesses, download our eBook, “Agile for Everyone.”

agile for everyone



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