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5 project management predictions for 2012

Adeline Teoh ed.
January 13, 2012

I’m no clairvoyant, but I believe I can see where project management will head this year. Given that project management survived 2011, a year of disasters—natural and man-made—it wouldn’t be glib of me to say that project management will not only live another day but grow stronger in 2012.

Here are my predictions:

1. Portfolio management will come to the fore
While good project management is about ‘doing the project right’, good portfolio management is about ‘doing the right project’. Organisations have started to wake up to their responsibilities, which include not only selecting the right projects, but building solid business cases, and providing adequate resources and sound governance.

More advanced organisations have also started to tap into the power of selecting and supporting the right combination of projects.

2. There will be breakthroughs for complex projects
The interconnectedness within and beyond projects has not yet been fully realised. Complexity in projects is not new, but we are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to research in this area. Organisations like the International Centre for Complex Project Management will be the thought leader here.

This year we will see an advance in our knowledge of how complex projects can be delivered more successfully. This will involve clarity in the roles of different stakeholders as well as more detail on better resource management and a greater understanding of project interdependencies.

3. Blended project management will be more common
Project management by its very nature is a mix of valuable skills, but these will no longer be defined by one type of certification or methodology. Plenty of project managers already have both exam-based and competency certification, so expect to see more combinations this year.

Additionally, aspects of ‘lean’ project management, such as Agile, will find its way into more traditional methodologies, like Waterfall. Complementary disciplines such as change management will also increase in profile and we’ll see more project managers with change management training and vice versa.

4. The skills shortage will continue
Despite the dampened economic environment, project managers will remain in demand in Australia and we may need to look abroad for extra talent. The booming resources industry remains a key area for project managers in mining and engineering, and the growing ICT sector will also demand people with project management skills.

Other industries in the public and private sector will also look to do more project-based work as cost-cutting measures sink in and the nature of work becomes fragmented. Skilled project managers will be required to guide less mature organisations through this transition.

5. Project management will become a two-speed discipline
While the number project managers will increase as demand for project management skills rises, there will be a split between certified and uncertified project managers.

The professionalisation of the discipline is on an upward trend and I expect to see project managers continue to value certification in 2012. However, awareness of the discipline has also increased in the general workforce and more employees will be expected to have or acquire project management skills.

I’d be interested to see how this pans out over the next 12 months. Leave you comments below if you have any predictions of your own!

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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2 thoughts on “5 project management predictions for 2012

  1. Hi Adeline,

    Love your articles – but felt the need to comment on this post and in particular
    “Portfolio management will come to the fore: While good project management is about ‘doing the project right’, good portfolio management is about ‘doing the right project’.”

    The statement is “arse about” and is the major reason why so much value is destroyed by projects – too many businesses do far too many projects which are “the wrong project”. In fact, when organisations ask us how to improve project results, one of the things we suggest is to STOP doing projects that add no value to the business. In our view, if you can’t be certain that the project is the right one, keep the money in the bank!

    There are very simple reasons why we should even start a project. These are:
    – to improve the business,
    – implement business strategies and
    – reap value over and above the cost of the investment.
    It makes no sense for a business to start a project, which will not achieve ALL of these things.

    It may seem a truism to say it—but we don’t do projects to make things worse! Nor do we do them just so that we can spend money. We do projects to get a return on the money invested. So to even start a project without understanding how it incrementally fits in an overall scheme of work is pointless.

    However, many organisations are so poor at delivering projects that this is exactly what happens: they fail to deliver improvements and sometimes even end up worse off; they fail to deliver strategies; and they spend money and get little or no return from the invested time and money.

    To get what we want from projects, we must manage both sides of the equation—manage the Value and control the Cost. Incurring and controlling cost without delivering value is a meaningless waste of money. But Value is destroyed if we overspend to achieve it.

    This—in a nutshell— is the source of all the problems that we have with poor project results.

    Over the last two decades, the orthodox project methodologies and project specialisms have been highly developed and engineered to track, manage and control the costs.

    But the business executives and leaders—who are the only people who can define what is valuable and then lead, direct and govern the project so that it preserves and achieves value—have not been experienced the same development of knowledge, know-how, tools and techniques to equip them for their role—which is to manage the Value.

    Without an understanding of what is valuable to the business, portfolio management ends up being an “add up the costs” function – rather than what it must be—which is a value management function which ensure that
    – these the projects clear in what business intention they are delivering
    – we are doing them in the right order and
    – we making the correct steering decisions”

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