Project Management in 2018 – What Will it Look Like?

Paul Naybour

 Take a look at some of the key trends for project management in 2018 that are expected to make a big impact throughout the coming year.

As we enter a new year, we reflect on the year that has passed and look to the year that lies ahead. In every industry, there are new trends that will emerge and shape the way businesses operate. Project management is no different. With that in mind, in this post, we are going to take a look at some of the key trends that are expected to make a big impact on project management in 2018.


Agile project management is not new, but it is something that is gaining more and more momentum. Firstly, while a lot of people deem it a methodology, it’s actually a set of 12 principles that methods like Scrum align with. Agile was a factor in project management in 2017, but it is likely to become an even bigger one in 2018. Agile principles are now being adopted by non-software project management teams. Moreover, there is going to be greater interest in the Agile business management model as the year continues. In fact, Agile is raising such interest that it is even being used outside of the business. There are those that suggest using Agile for raising children and managing the household. Of course, that’s a different matter entirely, but it goes to show the momentum this approach is gaining. It is likely that we are going to see more businesses embrace agile project management training courses over the next 12 months.

Work management and portfolio prioritisation

No matter what type of organisation you run or are involved with, portfolio prioritisation is a necessity. It is important to align the quantity of work you wish to do with the number of people you actually have available to you. Far too many businesses have limited resources and they try to do too much with these resources. In fact, statistics for 2017 suggest only 35 per cent of projects delivered the benefits that were desired, and only 37 per cent of projects were delivered on time. One of the main reasons for this is because project managers have been taking on too much and, therefore, they have essentially been setting their team up for failure. To combat this, we are going to see project teams attempt to do fewer projects well, as opposed to doing a lot of things badly. Of course, this is a welcome move. To achieve this, the alignment of projects against corporate strategy and portfolio prioritisation are both necessities.

Greater emphasis on health and well-being

This is something we are likely to see across a lot of businesses throughout 2018. However, considering how stressful project management can be, it is a particularly important point for this sector. Throughout 2017, metal health and well-being has been an important topic in the United Kingdom. In terms of long work hours in Europe, the UK leads the way, which may come as little surprise. After all, we all know that we should work fewer hours. Because of this, in 2018 we are likely to see a move towards less hours, more efficiency. After all, you don’t need to work longer to achieve more. It’s important to look after our project managers and project teams if we want them to deliver the best results. This is welcomed news for those working in projects, as it could mean a few more breaks throughout the year ahead.

Embracing project management

You are already committed to project management yourself, however, what we are going to see is the project management sector growing and becoming a more important part of core business. Even though you are embracing project management, not every business is and not every part of a business is. Throughout 2018, we are going to see more and more companies across all industries devote their attentions to project management, and reap the rewards as a result.

become a project manager

An emphasis on specialist team members

When building a strong project team, there is likely to be greater emphasis on specialists than all-rounders. Of course, there will always be a place for the efficient, hard-working type, who can manage a variety of tasks. But, to stand out from the crowd and deliver in terms of high levels of quality, specialists are a must. Complex processes and products require people that have expertise in specific areas. More than ever before, these experts need to think outside of the box. This is sometimes the only way for project goals to be achieved.

On the other hand, when it comes to project managers themselves, they need to be the all-rounders. After all, two days are rarely the same, and there are so many different situations and tasks they need to carry out and manage. From communication skills to scheduling, they will take on a whole host of tasks without actually needing to master the architecture of complex solutions. All of this just goes to show how important it is to have the right balance and blend when putting together a project team.

Project goals will continue to be underestimated

This is a trend that you definitely do not want to be a part of. In 2017, we saw projects fail for two key reasons. As already touched on, one of these reasons was a lack of resources. The other reason is because the project results desired were too complex and not well understood. It is important to put steps in place to counteract this lack of understanding – the last thing you want to do is embark on a project and realise that you have not understood the goals once it is too late to do anything about it. This is where agile methods can prove beneficial, showing two trends going hand-in-hand.

The demand for the integration of tools will increase

All businesses are searching for the best tools to assist them with project management. These companies are looking for the ideal hybrids between classic and agile, in order to avoid the ideological turf wars that were occurring prior to this. There will be a greater demand to integrate tools and to find solutions that can be customised to suit a business, meaning they don’t have to fall into the stringent criteria laid out by certain methodologies and approaches.

Project Completion Estimates

Driving success by establishing KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide actionable data on the performance of projects, programs, and portfolios. They can be used for metrics such as cash, profit, revenue, growth, and new orders. Project management in 2018 will see a greater emphasis on choosing the right KPIs to drive success in projects. There are a number of different ways this can be achieved. This includes using a platform that provides easy access to real-time, accurate KPIs, gathering and maintaining the lessons you have learnt, benchmarking both externally and internally, and framing KPIs in terms that are easy-to-understand. Other tips for creating successful KPIs include choosing those that reflect the objectives of your business, ensuring that the person in charge of creating the KPIs has full control and management of the results (this will typically be the project manager), using good quality data to get accurate indices, and finally, select KPIs in a manner that is targeted.

Collaborate, collaborate and collaborate some more

The importance of collaboration probably does not come as a surprise to you. It is something that we have discussed throughout the year that has just passed. However, collaboration is only going to grow in importance. After all, by their very nature, projects are social. Constant interaction and communication between all participants of a project is required. This includes everything from executive management to functional groups. To enhance collaboration, a business cadence needs to be established. This relates to a set of events, for example, risk boards and monthly cost reviews, whereby productive interaction between employees takes place.

Project managers are going to be in greater demand

There is going to be a much higher demand for experienced project managers. If you are a project manager yourself, this means that you have more opportunities open to you in terms of employment. For businesses, this means you need to do all in your power to hang on to your best talent. To ensure your project manager stays put and does not get tempted to look elsewhere, you need to ensure your job is providing them with everything they need. For example, you could consider offering advanced project management training and continuing professional development opportunities to your employees. This will increase their levels of job satisfaction because they feel like they have room to develop themselves professionally and that a promotion could potentially be on the way in the future.

Increased use of project management offices

Also known as PMOs, project management offices will continue to rise in 2018. In fact, the number of businesses using a PMO has increased by ten per cent over the past decade. We are likely to see this figure increase at a much faster pace. The reason why this trend is emerging is because more managers are acknowledging how important it is to run projects in a standardised manner. There has also been research that proves the benefits of going down this route. It is believed that for businesses that employ an enterprise-wide project management office, 33 per cent fewer projects meet with failure, and 38 per cent more projects are successful in meeting the goals of the business.

Emotional skills are going to be viewed as more important

Emotional intelligence and soft skills tend to be undervalued in the business sector. This is something that has been an issue in the project management sector. You only need to look at job descriptions to see that this is the case. Though knowledge and best practices have improved, businesses have been guilty of overlooking the emotional side. However, throughout 2018, it is likely that more business owners are going to appreciate the importance of looking for a project manager that has a high level of emotional intelligence. After all, the imperativeness of this should never be undervalued. Project management involves a lot of teamwork, and so you need someone who is understanding of other people’s emotions. A project manager should be sensitive to other people’s feelings. They need to know how to communicate effectively with the different people on their team. It takes someone that is very much in tune with how other people are feeling.

environmentally aware project manager

Social responsibility and accountability

Last but not least, people are increasingly wanting to do business with firms that conduct themselves in manners that are accountable, socially responsible, and ethical. This is no different when it comes to projects. Projects need to be measured and carefully monitored in ways that make sure they meet with the socially responsible requirements, tax and reporting requirements, environmental requirements, legal requirements, and legislative requirements that are in place. Safeguards should be established to make sure this is the case.

So there you have it: some of the top trends that are likely to shape project management in 2018. While you may not embrace all of the trends that have been mentioned, it is a good idea to consider which trends will help you as a project manager or indeed a business owner. After all, remaining stagnant is the worst thing you can do in any type of industry or job role.

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