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10 project management trends for 2012

J LeRoy Ward
February 9, 2012

According to global project management training organisation ESI International, we can expect collaboration between teams, stakeholders and executives to gain importance as complexity grows. Project management in 2012 will also see growth in on-the-job training, custom project management approaches, innovative project tools and smarter resource management.

Here’s what a panel of ESI International executives and experts nominated as the top 10 trends to watch out for over the year.

1. Program management to gain momentum, but resources to remain in short supply
Increasingly, large initiatives undertaken by corporations and government agencies are being recognised for what they are and are not: namely programmes, not projects, which require a highly advanced set of skills supported by appropriate tools and methods to successfully execute. Yet many organisations struggle to find the right people and lack the management practices necessary to ensure success.

In 2012, we will see more investments made in competency models, training, methodology development, tool use, and career paths to ensure that professionals who carry the title program manager are fit for the role.

2. Collaborative software solutions will become an essential tool for project teams
The proliferation of collaborative software in the project environment such as SharePoint is going to intensify in 2012. Fuelled by increasingly complex and virtual projects as well as tightened budgets, today’s environment demands a more efficient way to manage communication and workflow.

Collaboration is central to project management and having a site that allows project artefacts to be created, shared, and distributed within a repository that provides web-based access and critical functions such as automatic distribution and notification, version control, and user authentication, greatly enhances productivity.

3. Learning transfer will be the new mantra, but with little structured application
Learning transfer—the ability to apply training back on the job—will continue to be on the minds of PMO heads and learning and development (L&D) professionals who want their project managers to return from training ready to apply what they learned immediately and accurately to their projects.

While L&D and business heads agree that sustained learning is a sound idea, very few organisations will invest in a formal process to make it happen. In 2012, we will see many organisations discussing the importance of learning transfer without really putting in place a structured approach to ensure it happens.

4. Agile and Waterfall, a hybrid approach
Having moved from manifesto to mainstream, Agile has confronted project teams with the difficulty of implementing the experimental and hyper-collaborative approach. To transition an organisation into fully adopting certain aspects of Agile, project teams are combining traditional and Agile elements to create their own hybrid approach. In areas such as planning, requirements, and team communication, organisations are designing custom-made methodologies to do what works for them.

5. The marriage of project management and business process management
The philosophy of business process management (BPM) is fast becoming a key factor in project selection. When new projects are proposed, value will be judged to a large extent on the impact they will have on the organisation’s business processes. The more impact the project has on reducing internal costs, the higher it will be ranked.

The smart money will be spent on driving costs out of the business. Given the high premium being placed on efficient processes delivered through projects, BPM is a key concept with which project managers will need to be intimately familiar.

J LeRoy Ward
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP) is the executive vice president for Product Strategy & Management at ESI International, a subsidiary of Informa, which specialises in helping people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative learning.
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One thought on “10 project management trends for 2012

  1. Great article, thank you – but I have just one correction for trend number 6, if I may.
    I have a PMP and a Masters in PM and a passion for growth and maturity in PM, but in fact “the most popular and ubiquitous credential on the planet” in Project Management is PRINCE2, with over 600,000 people holding PRINCE certification.

    The great thing is that people are seeking certification in project management around the world. We need to continue to ensure we deliver excellence in this arena.

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