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The Future of Project Management: Is Your Business Prepared?

by Arthur Zuckerman

The roles of project managers have come a long way since project management methodologies first began in the 1950s. With the onset of rapidly advancing new technologies, it begs the question of how these advancements will affect the future of project management. While it can be very challenging to fully predict the future, there are many areas we are now seeing that can point to emerging trends. Let’s take a look at the coming changes that businesses need to be aware of so that you can begin adjusting now.

Using Blockchain for Improved Security

It’s likely that you have heard the term “blockchain” before, especially if you are well-versed in the world of cryptocurrency. While the term was coined in 2008, the concept has gained popularity in recent years with the crypto craze. Blockchain is commonly known for how it privately secures transactions between cryptocurrencies.

However, blockchain won’t only be used for exchanging money. Every industry will use blockchain technology in its operations as it creates previously unthinkable levels of security. Companies can use the blockchain to combat threats to project management, including:

  • Corruption: The blockchain is tamper-proof, which is arguably its greatest benefit. Nothing in the blockchain can be changed or manipulated without leaving an audit trail, which discourages anyone from tampering with projects. However, if someone with access does make changes, you will know exactly who it was.
  • Accounting: Blockchain is most commonly known for its ability to keep a perfect record of every transaction, stored securely on its digital ledger. This will help project managers keep closer tabs on income and expenses, keeping more accurate records of project costs.
  • Task delegation: Making sure every team member knows their role in a project can be a stressful part of a project manager’s job. In fact, miscommunication is one of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of a successful project. Blockchain makes this easier by eliminating the possibility of human error. Instead, you can lock in project roles on your blockchain, where everyone will instantly know what their role is.

Adjusting to Remote Work Systems

The rapid advancements in technology have shown that working from home is not only possible, but an absolute necessity in the event of any future pandemics. Having the right project management software tools and systems at home will be increasingly important as businesses seek out better work-from-home solutions. Businesses will need to adapt to these tools and expand security and connectivity beyond their offices if they haven’t already. Here are the benefits for teams working remotely:

  • Access to top talent: Having a remote team helps to attract higher levels of talent in your industry, since team members won’t need to move their families to a new location.
  • Increased productivity: While many project managers feared that productivity would plummet, a new study revealed that productivity grew by 47%. Fewer distractions, quieter workspaces, and fewer breaks all contributed to the uptick. Remote teams are also able to work during the hours they are most productive, rather than the traditional 9 to 5.
  • Improved retention rate: Team loyalty is vital for successful projects. Having a low retention rate, where teams are constantly changing due to employees leaving, can be hard on teams. According to another study, 75% of employees stated that flexible work is the most effective benefit companies can provide to increase their employee retention rate.

Automation Unlocks More Potential

For centuries, people have had to adapt to automation in their livelihoods. Typically, it comes in waves as big breakthroughs in technology occur. In recent years, we have been hearing about the ways that artificial intelligence will impact the workforce.

Automation seeks to automate the tedious processes that can slow down productivity. We already see this happening, but these advancements will only continue to increase in the future. Software has made the process of delegating tasks to team members and overseeing the project workflow much easier to manage. 

This has led to greater levels of transparency for teams and increased productivity. Critical areas like keeping track of time, managing tasks, and scheduling meetings can all be automated with project management software.

However, automation will continue to seep its way into other areas of project management, beginning with the way it will offload routine tasks so team members can focus on the areas that truly matter. Here are some ways that automation will help project managers:

  • Detecting risks: The algorithms of the future will be taking this to the next level. Through the immense amount of data gleaned from past projects, algorithms will be able to identify potential project risks before they even happen. AI will provide real-time updates about a project’s status and even provide suggestions to optimize the performance. Project managers can now be more proactive about eliminating risks rather than reactive.
  • Project optimization: Project managers will now have a better idea of which team members are more qualified to perform certain tasks. Algorithms will be able to analyze members and assess each of their skills, finding unique attributes that project managers may have overlooked. Businesses will be able to optimize projects in ways that were previously unrealized.
  • Improved communication: The most important role of a project manager is to be a great communicator. And just as our phones can correct our grammar when we text each other, algorithms are beginning to make our communication more effective. Businesses will be able to reduce miscommunication by letting algorithms analyze messages sent to teams and suggesting changes to improve the accuracy and truthfulness of statements.

There’s only so much we as people can handle in our workloads, but automation will be able to partner with us to expand the possibilities of what future projects can look like. Currently, just 23% of businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of project management software. This means that there is a lot of untapped potential for business growth. 

Automation will continue to speed up these tedious tasks, allowing project managers to create projects of greater complexity than before.

Hybrid Approaches Are the Way Forward

As remote teams become commonplace and the complexity of projects grows greater, the future of project management will see PMOs take a more hybrid approach to the way they work. While the waterfall methodology is still commonly used, many project managers have grown to prefer the agile approach for its flexibility with today’s technologies. Agile helps teams adapt to changes more quickly, and, as new systems arise, even more flexible methodologies will need to be created.

Project managers will need to combine different methodologies or systems to create a better model that can keep up with the dynamic changes in projects. In the coming years, the workplace will be more widely dispersed through remote working, so businesses will need to adjust to new processes to help them adapt to less traditional workflows. This means that, in the future, a strict waterfall workflow will more than likely be sidelined in favor of a more blended approach.

A Need for Expanded Skills

As you have read about the technologies above, you will need to freshen up your skills and knowledge related to these technologies. Learn about blockchain, robotics, and machine learning, and acquire at least a general knowledge about these technologies and how to use them. 

Soft skills will become increasingly important, especially stronger communication, as projects grow in complexity. These soft skills will include the ability to regularly manage remote teams, a high level of emotional intelligence, data science expertise, and adaptability. 

An understanding of big data will be especially important due to the birth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Your programs and systems will now be able to talk to you more in the future. These virtual assistants will tell you when problems and risks are detected and will require project managers to upskill their ability to work with big data. Businesses can be better prepared for this by incorporating both technical and relationship skills into their training.

Teams Will Grow More Diverse

Several factors will contribute to the growing diversity in the workplace. For one, globalization and increased access to technology have made our world more interconnected than ever before. Remote workers and greater levels of migration have brought people of all backgrounds closer together in the office.

However, that’s not the only impact that has led to the positive increase in diversity. An aging workforce has made more room for younger generations with shifting policies in regards to sexual orientation and identity, leading to more diverse people in the office. The future of diversity will continue to be impacted by these changing attitudes and increased globalization. 

Team diversity has had a positive impact on projects, as people with varying backgrounds have the ability to view a problem in different ways. This gives project teams a more well-rounded assessment of tackling project issues, leading to a more successful project outcome.

In Conclusion

Artificial intelligence and other technologies are on the brink of changing the way we work. Although it can be worrying to read about automation and project management, future trends show that artificial intelligence won’t be replacing project managers. Rather, it will assist project managers in tackling increasingly complex projects. 

It’s important to not worry about jobs being replaced, but rather, grow familiar with these technologies and how you’ll adapt your processes in this changing workforce. This will require a hybrid approach of using AI as a partner that helps your business accomplish greater levels of work, faster.

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