Two things happen about this time of year: we all start talking in the office about how fast the last 12 months have gone. And we pour through journals, trade magazines and sum up our diverse experience with clients to assess what trends will be hitting Project Management Offices in the months to come.
PMOs have had a strong year and there’s more of that to come. So, without further ado, here are the 5 trends that we’ll be keeping an eye on during 2019.
1. The Blend of Agile and Waterfall
In 2017 we predicted more agile in PMOs, and that PMO teams would support hybrid methodologies: both waterfall delivery teams and agile delivery teams. We’ve seen this happen to some extent, and Agile is still top of the list as an area for PMO leaders to watch for.
There is more and more tailoring at local and even project level supported by the common project management standards now. It’s accepted that project managers will choose the approach for delivery most likely to end with a successful result. However, that doesn’t mean project managers can do whatever they like: they still need to follow a path and clear processes using tried-and-tested methods for achieving results.
What that means for PMOs is that your team is going to be supporting project managers in their choice. PMOs also need to make sure their tools and processes are adequately tailored to support the different methodologies in use throughout the business. You may have to offer two or three different paths through a project depending on whether the method chosen is agile, predictive (waterfall) or a hybrid blend of both.
It’s an exciting development, but it does mean less experienced project managers are likely to need more support. Tailoring ensures that process-heavy approaches take a back seat. We’re looking forward to lean, streamlined and appropriate use of portfolio processes with just the right level of bureaucracy.
2. Investment in Project Managers and Capability
Project delivery is only as good as the people doing the delivering. We think the trend towards building capability through people is going to continue.
That could mean various things for your organization. For example:
- Implementing an apprentice scheme to bring in young talent and train the project managers your organization needs for the future
- Creating a project management job family or structured career path
- Broadening the teams through adding project coordinators, business analysts or technical experts
- Investing in systems and tools to bring standardization and maturity to the way you run projects and report on them.
3. Strategy Execution Takes Center Stage
If you’ve heard us talk about this before, it’s because this trend is not going away. The focus remains on the delivery of business value and of projects doing the work required to ensure strategy is achieved.
Some businesses are still struggling to see how to turn their beautiful strategy slide deck into something tangible that team leaders can deliver. The link between strategy formulation and execution is a difficult one, but once it is in place, your teams can fly.
There’s more work to be done here, and PMOs are perfectly placed to be able to facilitate the discussions between the execs making the strategy and the project teams attempting to deliver the vision.
4. Intelligent Tools
People need to be supported by systems, tools and processes that are efficient and effective. Often, we see a sea-change in maturity and capability when a business invests in tools that support their teams to do their best work.
However, the tools themselves are changing too. Tools like Full Monte have been around for a while, and modelling is coming of age. Big data captured within enterprise project management systems gives a rich base from which to do predictive analysis. Elements of project management tools will go on to use data science and artificial intelligence to digest huge amounts of data and play back possible risks, tips for resource levelling, areas of concern and more.
If all the talk about AI taking over jobs is worrying your team, we think you can put their minds at rest. There is still a long way to go before tools have the level of emotional intelligence required to manage the complexities of a business portfolio.
5. The Changing Face of Professional Development
Training budgets have always been at risk of being squeezed when budgets are tight. However, we still need to train our staff.
We’re seeing a trend towards employees taking more responsibility for professional development themselves. This goes beyond studying for credentials and spills over into taking video training classes, attending professional development events, conferences and so on. Why is this different to anything that has happened before? Because in many cases, staff are paying for these themselves.
Offering robust training is an easy way for employers to differentiate their workplace. If you can promise new recruits and existing staff a training pathway and experience with the latest tools and techniques, you can improve recruitment and retention.
There’s a growing expectation that professional development in project, program and portfolio roles is desirable and required. If people can’t get that from their employer, they will go and seek it elsewhere. Make it easy for people to access the career skills they need from within your organization and you’ll see how this investment is rewarded.
The challenges and opportunities for PMOs continue into next year. How do you see your PMO evolving in 2019?