written by
Sean Thomas

Emerging Project Management Trends You Can Expect in 2021

Project Management 4 min read

With the recent advent of new leadership paradigms and technology, the project management discipline is going through a similar evolution as virtually every other industry. Almost every vertical of the business world is changing, and we now stand at an important pedestal in time.

The rapid progress happening around us means that the world is developing at the rate of knots and there are frequent updates and upgrades happening around us. Project managers can keep an eye on current and future trends to prepare themselves for what’s to come this year.

In a bid to prepare project managers and project management teams for the year that is 2021, we have compiled a list of important emerging trends in project management that you can expect. Go through the list and get ready for the change that is happening around you.

Emerging Project Management Trends to Expect in 2021

Greater Dependency on Remote and Digital Teams

Just like many other industries today, project management is no longer limited to the confines of the workplace. Due to a number of factors including changing corporate culture, greater connectivity, the problems we have faced in the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in the gig economy, a number of companies are more focused on hiring remote and digital teams than building a workplace team.

While the shift toward remote and digital work was already on the rise, the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures that resulted because of it have led to an unprecedented shift in working patterns. In an effort to protect workers from the virus and to follow government measures, organizations had to compromise on face-to-face interactions and depend on remote working capabilities to get the results they desired. It is currently estimated that almost half of all workers in the United States are working remotely and the new normal will continue even after the pandemic is over.

The challenge of remote work does not mean that digital teams are less productive or counterproductive for that matter. In fact, they are just as effective as on-field teams with the added advantage of flexibility. This enhanced flexibility is bound to become the norm soon and will help organizations attract and retain top talent.

A Deeper Strategic Connection

Traditionally speaking, project management is a key organizational tool that shepherds organizations toward achieving discrete goals, which include the launch of a single product or achieving a given outcome. By this definition, every project has a finite initiation and end period assigned to it. The project manager acts as the leader monitoring the project through to successful completion.

In recent times, the role of project management has expanded further. Project management today is more than just a tool.

Creative team
Photographer: Icons8 Team | Source: Unsplash

We know the importance of strategy and vision within the organization,” says Joseph Griffin, an associate teaching professor in Northeastern and a certified PMP. “But the question that always arises is: How do we execute? How do we make that strategy actionable?

It is “through the vehicles of projects and programs [that] we’re able to execute and make that strategy actionable,” he added. “So one of the big trends that we’re seeing right now is a focus on program and portfolio management, and how that is a mechanism for us executing the strategy and managing the strategy in an organization.

The Emergence of Hybrid Techniques

Not too long ago, project managers and their teams would follow projects based on a single management methodology. While the specific methodology varied on the basis of organizations and the inclinations of their project managers, organizations always relied on a single framework as a norm.

In the last few years, organizations and the project managers working under them have become a little less rigid in their approach. The rise in adaptability has led to an increase in the hybrid approach, which includes two or more frameworks working together for successful and efficient project management.

The increased adoption of hybrid techniques has been led by alternate methodologies such as Scrum, Lean, Kanban and Agile. The changing corporate culture and the rise in flexibility given to project managers have also led to this increase.

Choosing a specialized project management framework does come with its own benefits, but it is necessary that organizations implement a number of different strategies together to succeed in the industry.

Project Management’s Link with Chain Management

Every year, organizations run through tens and hundreds of changes in their organizational structure. These changes range from small adjustments in processes to overhauls in major decisions. Project managers today aren’t just managing and monitoring projects, but they’re also overseeing change initiatives directed by the organization.

Greater Emphasis on Soft Skills

Project managers today need a certain level of organizational and analytical skills to succeed in their managerial roles. But with the changing corporate dynamics, the job of a project manager goes well beyond the completion of budget documents and project scope. At the core of the work that project managers do sits an understanding of how their team members perform and the expectations that should be tied to them.

Effective managers should be able to understand the hopes and motivation of their team and use that knowledge to anticipate their needs. All roadblocks present in the way of these dreams should be effectively removed. According to a report by PMI, most organizations today value leadership skills just as much as technical skills in a project manager.

Individuals working in the project management industry should prioritize the anticipation of future trends so that they can set their needs accordingly. The trends highlighted in this article will be prominent in the year to come.