Top 5 predictions for project management in 2016

2016 predictions

As a discipline, I see project management as being fairly static. Still, there are changes and movements happening. Here are my top five for 2016.

What's going to happen with project management in 2016? Since project management as a discipline is fairly static, I liken this concept of predicting changes in project management to a conversation two fictional characters had on one of my favorite shows, “The Big Bang Theory,” a few years ago. Leonard Hofstadter is an experimental physicist and his future girlfriend and wife, Penny, is asking questions about his job while they are out to dinner together.

Penny: “So, what’s new in the world of physics?”

Leonard: “Nothing.”

Penny: “Really, nothing?”

Leonard: “Well, with the exception of string theory, not much has happened since the 1930’s, and you can’t prove string theory, at best you can say “hey, look, my idea has an internal logical consistency.”

Penny: “Ah. Well I’m sure things will pick up.”

I think of project management changes when I think of this conversation about experimental physics. Still, I believe there are slow changes happening and some shifts in focus and management about to happen.

Here are my top five predictions for project management I 2016.

1. Emergence of CPOs. I think 2016 is the year of that the CPO position – or Chief Project Officer – begins to get real traction. In the late 1980's many technical experts and business leaders were suggesting that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) would be the next critical C-level position in organizations. It happened. We've also seen the emergence of CFOs in the last decade and now CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers). My prediction for the next big C-level position to emerge is the CPO. It may mean the end of PMO directors and/or centralized project management offices (PMOs)...we will have to see how that plays out.

2. Decrease in PMOs. Project management offices are still failing or at least not serving many organizations very well. Sometimes it's due to a lack of strong leadership at the top of the PMO, sometimes it's putting a great project manager in charge who ends up spending too much of this time managing projects rather than managing the PMO, and sometimes it's just a disorganized mess led by whatever resource manager needs a position of responsibility this week. Not enough are formed around the principles of strong leadership, executive buy-in, and established practices, policies and templates. Executives in the organization can only stand so many restarts before they move in the direction of a decentralized project management infrastructure.

3. Shift away from PM certification focus. While many organizations and job postings will still list certification as a “nice to have” or “preferred”, fewer will focus on that aspect of a candidates background or experience. In 2015, I consulted with two organizations where they were looking for someone who was an experienced project manager and the consulting search listed several key responsibilities and qualifications and PMP certification was listed as “preferred.” However, it was never even discussed during any of the proceedings leading up to the engagements. I'm seeing it listed, I'm not hearing about it being discussed.

4. Decentralized project management in all but the largest of organizations. I realize this may seem to contradict the “emergence of CPOs” that I discussed above, but not really. I think we will still see the CPO position start to mean something in the PM community, but we will also see the increased use of project managers and consultants throughout the organization in individual business units and departments or just more of an independent pool of professionals.

5. Increasing reliance on remote project managers and consultants – growth of virtual team situations. It only makes sense. Professional service organizations who base most of their business on seeking out and providing project solutions are moving more and more to geographically dispersed teams, project managers and teams that may never meet face to face, and offshore development teams who provide great development services at a fraction of the price of high priced co-located project teams. Let's face it, project teams rarely need to sit at the same table and by allowing your PM's and project teams to work remotely mean you can always find and obtain – at least on a contractual basis – the best of the best by not making them relocate just for the privilege of having them take up space at your company headquarters.

Summary / call for input

I see project management, in general, as a being fairly static. Important – often critical – in organizations who rely on steady and strong project management to bring home profitable and successful customer implementations in order to succeed as a company. But still, fairly static. There are always new project management software tools and templates available for organizations looking for a change or improvement, but many offer fairly similar capabilities.

But for 2016, I'm going to predict this five things I've mentioned above. How about our readers – what changes do you see coming for project management and PM infrastructures or methodologies in the coming year. Please share and let's discuss.

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