As with many key business processes over the last two years, project management has undergone changes that have created more value for organizations. These changes include increased use of digital tools, better alignment of projects to strategy, enhanced organizational agility, and improved application of standardized risk management practices

Project managers have also focused on honing their soft skills and emphasizing the people in their organizations. These changes (or shifts in focus) have contributed to the success of the project economy, helping teams achieve the strategic goals of effective leadership and delivering financial and social value.

The Future of Project Management

The practice of project management constantly evolves to meet the demands of the business world. Important trends fall into two main areas that have emerged in recent years as key to the future of project management. One is organizational agility. The other is emphasizing a diverse, inclusive workforce.

In its recent Pulse of the Profession Report, the Project Management Institute (PMI) coined a new term for organizations that meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world: gymnastic enterprises.

The term refers to organizations that maintain structure, form, and governance while also developing the ability to “flex and pivot” as needed. These organizations have a higher level of agility and more frequently practice good risk management, two factors associated with success in project management.

The idea of flexibility and agility runs throughout the current trends in project management along with a renewed focus on developing talented, diverse workforces. The idea is to put people first. As PMI states: “Organizational performance is a well-choreographed dance of individual performances.”

Current Project Management Trends

The following represents some of the most impactful trends in project management today. Successful organizations and project managers focus on improving in these areas to remain competitive.

Digital and Remote Work

One of the most significant pivots for organizations happened during the height of the pandemic when communication depended on the use of digital tools. The unique situation accelerated an already growing trend that saw a rise in remote project management teams. While some aspects of project management work better with team members in one location, remote work and collaborative digital tools offer flexibility and lead to higher retention of talented employees.

Strategic Alignment

In the past, projects focused on discrete goals that rarely significantly impacted overall business strategy. That’s changed in recent years. More companies than ever see the value of projects. They’ve moved toward aligning projects with overall business strategy, using projects to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.

Risk Management

While organizational agility is highly valued, so is better management of risk. PMI reports that standardized risk management practices are a key driver of project success across all industries. Risk management standards involve identifying potential risks in the strategic plans of a business, then developing best practices that mitigate those risks. These standards function as a guide, providing project teams with examples of proven risk management approaches and best practice advice to manage risk in various situations.

People First

A renewed focus on people – including an emphasis on diversity and inclusion – runs throughout all the current trends in project management. The smartest organizations train and empower their employees to facilitate positive change. They support them in expanding and improving their skills. They also create a company culture that supports innovation. This focus on people is part of a values-based organizational approach that emphasizes the value of employees and customers, as well as digital solutions, diversity, and inclusion. Doing so improves an organization’s agility and risk management while reducing the chance of scope creep. All three are associated with better project performance

Soft Skills

To create diverse teams that lead to better project and business outcomes, project managers have put a stronger focus on developing soft skills. These skills allow managers to enhance productivity and better manage a diverse group of people. Soft skills include better communication, leadership, time management skills, and a focus on supporting employees in improving their skill set and advancing their careers.

The Project Management Certificate from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business addresses these trends and much more. Professionals who enroll in the program learn the project management concepts and frameworks that they can quickly apply to their organization, leading to rapid change and improvements.

Completing the program meets the 23-hour project management education requirement for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification and the 35-hour requirement for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. Students will need to take the Project Management Institute (PMI) exams.