Why Project Management Isn’t Going Away (+ 4 Industry Trends)

What if I told you that there is one overarching skill set that can earn you 82% more than those professionals without it? Don’t believe me? The skillset is project management. We’re talking facts here my friends! You’ve read that right!

Understanding the ins and outs of the project management world, you can get a rewarding income plus a plethora of opportunities over the next decade. Guess what is even better than that? These skills span across industries and continue to exceed the career outlook year after year.

Project management can take on many forms. Simply put, projects are one-time activities that set out to achieve a specific objective. Think of it like building a house, moving data to a new system, or designing/developing a website.

As project managers, we tailor the project by using the necessary processes, tools, and skills to accomplish project goals. It is both an art and a science. And project managers can get paid the big bucks to understand how to mesh the two realities and still get the job done.

I think most PMs would agree that project management can be a learned skill (via trainings, certificates, etc.), but a lot of it comes from on-the-job training such as shadowing and being mentored.

Why Project Management Isn’t Going Away (+ 4 Industry Trends)

Trend 1: There aren’t enough qualified PM’s to fill the millions of roles organizations need to fill

This is excellent news for anyone looking to make a career in project management. Part of the reason there are so many open roles, is due to the aging talent closing in on retirement. Now is the time to polish up your skills!

New skilled talent is needed to bring value to organizations through proactive risk management, consistent results, cost reduction, increased efficiencies, and improved customer and stakeholder satisfaction.

Top leaders at organizations know that the future is based on the projects they take on. Those leaders want to make sure their companies are getting ROI on the funds they pour into technology. To accomplish that, skilled project managers are needed who can filter communication to the right stakeholders, uplift the project teams, and realize the benefits the project set out to accomplish.

Trend 2: More emphasis on soft skills vs. technical skills

Almost any project management role looks for some technical skills. But even more so, the soft skills (which are a little harder to wrap your hands around). Soft skills are learned and developed through participation. Examples of those much-needed project management soft skills include:

  • Leadership

  • Strategic and business management mindset

  • Change management and organizational development

  • Communication

  • Team building and conflict resolution

  • Facilitation

  • Adaptable and unflappable qualities

Here are some different approaches to acquiring those highly desired soft skills:

Gain intentional experience

Often times, even if you’re not currently a project manager, companies have project management roles or ongoing projects where you can join as a resource.

This is a great way to gain experience and get a foot in the door. Talk to your manager, express interest in wanting to gain more experience in project management. They may have some projects for you to lead or assist within the department, or perhaps within the broader organization. Boom! Experience and exposure.

Get a mentor

Is there someone in your organization you admire, or perhaps roots for you and your success? Ask them. It can be the easiest way to find someone to learn from and shadow.

A mentor doesn’t have to be limited to your workplace. You really just need someone that wants to see you succeed and can help you get there because they have some experience.

Trend 3: Projects impacted by AI and Data Intelligence

There is a lot of new technology that organizations want to implement both internally and externally. With trends indicating there will be more AI and data intelligence disrupting within organizations, PMs should understand at a high level the benefits these technologies will offer and what it means for project managers.

AI is already present in the world around us, think Siri, Google Home, etc. These technologies take the input from a person and use it to take action which could be as easy as a quick analysis or providing an answer.

As it relates to project management, we could see in the realm of software AI assisting with resource planning, scheduling, running scenarios to increase decision making, and providing logical-based outcomes that can help with things like risk identification.

Tools like this can help run additional scenarios and help to predict potential outcomes, however, the data outputs can only be as good as the data inputs that are available. In some ways, this can be an asset to PMs, but AI cannot solely be relied on to replace the role of a project manager. AI cannot take the “people aspect” out of project management. As we’ve already discussed, the need for PMs will continue to grow. Job security should not be a concern.

Organizations will still need PMs who can apply critical thinking to the project/job roles, can be a valued leader, build, and sustain relationships with stakeholders…. You know, those awesome soft skills referenced above. Yes, they’re not going anywhere.

Trend 4: Diversity of thought and process

Embracing hybrid approaches & methodologies

Projects span across industries, vary in size, and all have their unique cultures. Applying the same methodologies just doesn’t make sense. As a project manager, understanding the different approaches and when they work best can make the flow of the project smoother and help achieve the goals sooner.

In more recent years, the idea of agile methodologies has become popular due in part to the flexibility, reduced risk as the project progresses, and the ability to provide value throughout the project rather than at the end, unlike the waterfall approach.

Many companies embrace a hybrid approach that takes advantage of the benefits of each and leverages those methodologies when it makes the most sense.

Working with diverse teams

Diversity is a topic that will continue to be trending in project management. It won’t be just the diversity of thought and approach, but also the diversity of talent.

Companies all across the globe will continue to see talent, much of which will come from overseas. According to PMI, there will be an increase in qualified resources in China, India, and USA.

Blending diverse talent, with a diverse background will help offer more innovation within projects. Further, with all the information that’s consumed during projects, that information can be digested and evaluated more fully leading to better project outcomes.

Some of the challenges with this trend will fall on the shoulders of project managers. They’ll be at the forefront of the effort to help teams learn what each other has to offer while overcoming various challenges.

Project management will continue to move in the direction it has been. Fast and in high demand. For project managers, this means you can expect many job opportunities and will have the upper hand when it comes to negotiating.

For employers, it means they should invest in their current talent via certs, training, degree, etc., and, more importantly, keep the talent by placing emphasis on job satisfaction, offering challenging/fulfilling work, and understanding the employees’ goals and how to offer them a path that helps get them there.