by David Cotgreave

The Project Manager roadmap for 2016

Jan 14, 2016
Project Management ToolsTechnology Industry

Collaboration, persistence and listening to your end-users will be the key to success in 2016.

I kept getting asked for my predictions for Project Management in 2016.

I always find thinking this way rather at odds with our world.

How many Project Managers had projects that neatly concluded by New Years Eve, all ready for fresh ones to start when they returned to the office in January? How many PMs will work in a tangibly different way in this year to how they did in the last? I know one PM who studies Gartner’s thinking with a forensic eye but most of the others are too busy getting the job done day in, day out to ‘over think’ their MO. I always recommend taking time out to sharpen the saw!

As Project Managers, we react and evolve minute by minute, not year by year. However, although the way we work doesn’t necessarily lend itself to annual trends, I do think that when we reflect on 2016, Project Managers who consider their year to have been successful will have bought into three key ideas.

Collaboration, persistence and listening to your end users!

2016 will be the year of collaboration

In his blog post “Top 5 predictions for project management in 2016,” Brad Egeland forecasts “Increasing reliance on remote project managers and consultants – growth of virtual team situations.”

I’ve seen evidence of this already and organisations who do this open themselves up to a greater selection of solutions and talent. 

More and more in 2016, organisations will enjoy greater success by reaching beyond their traditional Project Management parameters to pull in great talent and project development services. These ‘project communities’ will come together to work on a specific project and then often disband after delivery – some will work together again but for others, the convergence of their skills and an organisation’s needs may never arise again.

On-tap skills and talent at a fraction of the cost of having them clock in at your office each day. Win / Win!

As Brad Egeland puts it, “Project teams rarely need to sit at the same table and by allowing your PM’s and project teams to work remotely … 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.”

2016 will be the year of the end user

As Gartner hones its vision for Bimodal IT and more organisations adopt this new way of thinking a new group of IT pioneers will emerge – those that actually use it! Your colleagues and customers.

I have always been an advocate of PMs listening to what I suppose Gartner might call ‘Mode 2 people’. As a consultant, I often tell clients that their best insights will come from their own employee ranks or customer data. It’s where I often look first!

Sam Walton, the man behind Wal-Mart and (for a while) the richest man on the planet said, “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys.”

Sam Walton built an empire by listening to his end users – to build your Project delivery empire … listen to yours.

2016 will be the year of persistence paying off

The American journalist and poet Christopher Morley said, “Big shots are little shots who kept shooting.”

I’ve always found this quote inspiring on those dark, late, lonely nights that it can sometimes take to turn a project into a success.

In his blog ‘Project Management Predictions for 2016’, Canadian Project Manager Evan Sommerville writes, “The reality is that projects have issues. Always have. Always will. To be clear, this is not an admission of defeat; not by any stretch. It’s simply a recognition of what is real. Despite the best-laid plans, the best of intentions, talented, hardworking teams, solid processes, training and experience, there will be risks and there will be issues.”

And he’s right – and you know it. But you also know there is great truth in the words of Robert Frost – “The best way out is always through.”

Timelines will stretch you in unrealistic ways, projects will lack clarity of purpose, budgets will be leaner than required and the unforeseen will remain unforeseeable. The great PMs prepare for unpredictable challenges and they keep going.

As Evan Sommerville writes, “Anticipate having to deal with the unknown- unknowns and most importantly, support each other when the going gets tough.”

Nice one Evan.

Keep on keeping on!

And that’s the best thing you can do in 2016.

As I say, I find predicting the year ahead rather at odds with our world. Most Project Managers I know didn’t have projects that neatly concluded by New Years Eve, all ready for the fresh ones to start in January. If you’re honest, you’ll mostly work in 2016 the way you did in 2015, because chances are, you will be working on the same project and under the same pressures.

Indeed, one PM I know was working on a crucial strategic project as Big Ben struck twelve and as the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descended in Times Square.

I raised a glass to him and to you.

Here’s to a successful year!