Last year, we predicted that in 2013 we would see the three Cs: Consolidation, Change and Collaboration—and we most certainly did. These forces will no doubt continue to shape the project management landscape in the year ahead. Yet trends on the horizon point to a renewed focus on the alignment of IT operations and strategic business goals. In addition, competition in all markets will continue to place pressure on both optimization and innovation. Savvy professionals can stay ahead of the curve by keeping the following project management (PM) trend predictions in mind as they craft strategies for 2014 and beyond:
- Business Value and Business Technology Optimization: Enterprises will continue to increase focus on the value that IT and PMOs bring to the business—not solely what these departments are costing the company. Rather than cost-cutting, we’ll start to see more companies invest IT dollars more effectively, by moving away from legacy, on-premise Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and Application Portfolio Management (APM) solutions, and into the Cloud.
- Relevant Metrics and Analytics: As PM becomes even more sophisticated and critical to companies’ success, it will no longer be enough to create reports and dashboards to share with key stakeholders. The value of the PMO and the work that IT does will be micro-analyzed; measurable results will be essential to validating the PMO and IT as valued partners who contribute to the success of the business overall. Therefore, investing in solutions that provide relevant, detailed visibility and transparency will become “table stakes”—a required investment—in determining the value of these departments.
- Project, Application and Resource Management will be viewed as a trio: There will continue to be less tolerance for failed projects. In this environment, the PMO must do more than just manage applications or projects. A key driver will be leveraging smart resource allocation to allow executive teams to drive innovation to create competitive advantage in the marketplace.
- Integrating Critical Business Systems with existing solutions will be key to companies’ success: It seems a simple credo, but it’s challenging to achieve in practice: People should be allowed to work in environments that enable the most productivity. A necessary step toward creating this ideal environment is integration between systems. A nice perk when it worked in the past, integration among PM and critical business systems such as Agile Solutions and ERP systems is now a significant requirement, particularly given the plethora of mergers and acquisitions that took place last year.
- The rise of the Application-Centric World and the Knowledge Worker: We’ve moved from an era of homogeneity to heterogeneity. In the post-PC era, the focus is no longer on hardware and operating systems; it’s all about applications. Our lives are run now by applications, not restricted by platforms. At the same time, this increased mobility will continue to drive a new definition of a “Knowledge Worker”. Entire industries will also be redefined, as the post-PC era will create 1.3 billion Knowledge Workers in the next five years alone. We are in an exploding phase, and new application-based technologies are creating untold opportunities we can all take advantage of—including IT departments.
- The role of the CIO continues to evolve: Because business processes are becoming increasingly complex and applications are composites of many interdependent IT applications and services, CIOs must become shamans leading the right development for the right business reasons. In a dramatic and strategic shift, they will move from being optimizers of processes to managers of Portfolios. They will be accountable for the return on investments by Portfolio—not simply the successful execution of individual projects or application work.
- Enterprise Applications will be significantly influenced by the demand for easier-to-use and faster-to-deploy requirements: Amazon, Apple, Google and many others have changed the way we consume applications. These visionary companies incited a new wave of user-friendliness demands, which are now translating into similar demand for requirements in IT enterprise offerings. Complex is out, simple is in. These new mandates will certainly put pressure on both IT departments and vendors who sell to IT, to evolve to survive and thrive.
As these trends illustrate, in the next three to five years project management professionals will witness some of the most challenging and innovative opportunities that technology and the business environment have to offer. Those who are ready to take advantage of the new paradigms and realities will be inspired by the challenges, and driven to make the most of the opportunities, that lie ahead. Fortunately, awareness of how the world is changing around us is the first step to getting there. By keeping an eye on the key trends, 2014 can be a year of improved efficiency, value and impact for you and your organization.