7 Project Management Trends in 2022 – Where Are We Headed?

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Which project management trends will we see in areas such as resource planning, collaboration, methods and tools? How are the roles of the participants in the project environment going to change? And what new challenges are in store for the PMO?

In this article, we take a look ahead to the coming years in agile, traditional and hybrid project environments. The trends, however, do not apply to all industries and types of projects in the same way. We combine our own experience with the information from public sources and derive the main points from this. Based on assessments and forecasts you will be able to implement the right strategies for your project management environment.

Our goal: you have peace of mind, knowing that you always have full control over your project environment.

These are the topics in store for you:

Let us start.

Some Recent Studies

The world has changed significantly in the last few years – not least due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digitization or climate change. This also has an impact on our professional world.

This is how the German Handelsblatt headlined its report on STEM Reporting (German: MINT-Reporting) from November 2021: “Short of over 275,000 skilled professionals – Shortage of experts already greater than before COVID”. A massive gap for the future presenting the world of work with new challenges.

This has an impact on the skills required of employees – the so-called future skills. The Stifterverband and McKinsey & Company recently published the “Future Skills Framework 2021(German language). Accordingly, it is possible to differentiate four categories here:

  • Traditional skills
  • Key digital skills
  • Technological skills
  • Transformational skills

The survey of 500 companies and public sector agencies in Germany demonstrates that the respondents rate the importance of individual skills differently today than for the future.

Above all, the respondents considered the skill of problem-solving ability important, as well as entrepreneurial behavior, initiative, resilience and creativity. And it is exactly these skills that will gain importance over the next few years according to the survey.

Key digital skills, too, are coming more and more into focus, as is agile working.

Yet, which project management trends can be derived from these developments? Let us get into our forecasts.

Trend 1: Resource Planning Is Becoming More and More Important

The recent studies and surveys have clearly shown that resource planning in project management is becoming more and more important – even at the top levels. All roles must be involved.

Project Management Trends – The three levels of enterprise-wide resource management (strategic, tactical, operational) and the responsibilities of the roles involved

The three levels of enterprise-wide resource management (strategic, tactical, operational) and the responsibilities of the roles involved

Project Management Office (PMO)

Thus, the PMO for example is increasingly taking on the coordination of resource management alongside team leaders and project managers. Together with the decision-makers, this central office has to provide capacities with the appropriate skills in a forward-looking manner.

Team Leader

The team leaders are increasingly involved in ensuring their team members receive ongoing training. For example, retraining personnel is one way of continuously increasing knowledge. The goal should be to retain employees in the long term. Expanding their knowledge will not only strengthen the staff’s ties to the company but will also provide for employee satisfaction. After all, satisfaction with one’s own job is becoming more and more important in the fast-moving labor market.

Project Manager

Project managers are increasingly engaged in finding solutions for clear goals and social skills. Traditionally, it used to be possible to define a clear goal with the project order. These days, however, we are often unable to fully define this, which makes a different approach to the topic necessary. In addition, the constantly growing number of projects means that the responsibility of the project managers to adequately take care of everything has increased.

Team Members

Mastering all of this, requires team members to deal honestly with ambiguity, lack of knowledge, and deadlines. After all, the main reason for unsuccessful projects is missing goals or failure to define them clearly.

Our tip: Good resource management will only work together – in the interaction between project manager, team leader, team member and PMO. Lay the foundations with processes and tools.

Resource Management Must Be Complete and Good Enough

Unfortunately, the resource situation is not easing in most industries and companies. There are those who still have too few employees and those who suddenly have too many. Thus, the trend towards optimizing the workload of existing employees continues unabated. Those responsible will have to try to make the unpredictable predictable.

In order to do this, they need to know what their employees are working on – not just in projects but also in operations.

The involvement of the team leaders in the coordination process between project and line management will be impossible to avoid. Only by looking at both perspectives, will you obtain complete and therefore reliable resource planning.

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To make matters worse, new requirements for further projects and future fields of knowledge come up at ever-shorter intervals. These have to be taken into account more flexibly in strategic capacity planning.

Reading tip: 6 Steps to Resource Management – Implementing Tactical Resource Planning Quickly

For this reason, PMO and portfolio managers require even better support in variable scenario planning. In accordance with the priorities and availabilities of the coming months and years, they have to decide which new projects to start, and when. Some also have to be very flexible in postponing projects and bowing to the new external circumstances.

Rough yet complete resource planning is more helpful for this purpose than precise planning for only a few projects. There is growing acceptance of the “Complete and good enough” approach. What is more, companies are increasingly turning away from Excel in the resource management context, as the tool is just not flexible enough. Special tools for resource management are much better suited for this.

Our tip: Rough and complete resource planning (all operations, absences and project activities) is better than planning a few projects in detail while being incomplete overall.

Project Management Trends – Professional resource management for the entire company in the interaction of all roles involved (using the example of TPG tools)

Professional resource management for the entire company in the interaction of all roles involved (using the example of TPG tools)

Social and Soft Skills for the Project Management of the Future

If you are working in the project environment, you should consider a few pointers concerning social and soft skills. They will help you be all set for the future trends in the ever more complex project environment and increasingly challenging resource management:

  • See the people, not things, behind the term ‘resources’
  • Encourage creativity in finding solutions
  • Allow for failed attempts and factor them in
  • Create trust as the basis for honest appraisal of the circumstances and tasks
  • Provide for less stress in projects caused by uncertainties (I’m not at home in the subject, we won’t finish, etc.)
  • Create an environment in which teams feel comfortable and do not want to run away
  • Overall, there is a trend requiring project managers to become (like) team leaders – “You can manage things, but you have to lead people.” And why is that so? From the company’s perspective, this is the guiding principle which will be perceived as increasingly true as skilled labor becomes scarcer: “The most important things are no things.”

A poll on the resource situation in a TPG webinar on January 26, 2022 (German language) confirmed the importance of pain points in resource management: Problems with processes, staff, skills and tools are common.

Trend 2: Knowledge Sharing Continues on the Rise

You will be a familiar with this problem: gurus as a single source keeping their important knowledge to themselves create bottlenecks in resource planning.

Project Management Trends – Fixed teams and deputies support the sharing of knowledge

Fixed teams and deputies support the sharing of knowledge

If you have too few suitable staff members with similar knowledge whom you can deploy at the same time, this will lead to resource conflicts. The closer the skills of the available staff members are to each other, the easier it will be to assign them. This will automatically reduce conflicts.

Yet, this will only work if you really share the knowledge. Hence, it is not the actual number of people that is the problem but the bottlenecks for certain skills.

You may be faster on your own in the short term. In the long term, however, you will get further together. In agile environments, this mindset is the norm. Yet, for many established traditional organizational structures, this kind of rethinking will be a major challenge.

The trend towards sharing knowledge is becoming more and more prevalent regardless of the industry. As a project management trend, it is increasingly exhibited by the younger generation.

Our tip: Ensure that the knowledge of key experts is distributed among several heads.

Trend 3: Agile and Hybrid Methods Continue to Gain Importance

In the traditional project management environment, we have so far seen changing assignment to projects in different teams. This approach, however, is becoming more and more problematic. In the agile world, on the other hand, teams remain constant across many iterations. They work together in the true sense to achieve usable results.

Project Management Trends – In traditional planning, switching between projects is more difficult than in synchronized agile planning.

In traditional planning, switching between projects is more difficult than in synchronized agile planning.

The feasibility and the scope of the intended results was previously estimated by the agile teams themselves in advance and divided into Sprints. This makes it much clearer what actually can be achieved and what cannot. Everyone knows:

  • Who is able to do what
  • What can be seen as reliable
  • What is rather uncertain

Moreover, team members in a consistent familiar team will find it much easier to share knowledge.

More and more companies are adopting this approach with success. Hence, agile methods will also continue to gain importance in the future.

Our tip: Look into agile methods and consider what you might be able to adopt at your company – e.g. the synchronized planning of teams.

Hybrid Approaches in Project Implementation

In our fast-paced world, it is more important than ever to look at usability, not at a specification. With agile methods, the focus is on the final product from the beginning. However, there is an open-ended approach, and the usability is questioned on a regular basis. This can ultimately lead to a final product that is different from the original plan, yet everyone is happy with it.

This agile approach, used in appropriate projects (building a dam would not be an appropriate project for this), prevents that the changed requirements are ignored in development. In traditional project management, this can happen, if the circumstances change during the project term.

Project Management Trends – The open-ended approach can provide greater benefits in projects suitable for this purpose

The open-ended approach can provide greater benefits in projects suitable for this purpose

Project managers are responsible for the benefits of the project outcome. The trend is definitely moving in the direction of being able to recognize earlier if one is off the mark (“fail cheap”) or providing a benefit earlier.

Often, hybrid approaches combining the advantages of the agile with the traditional world are the right solution for certain projects. The figure below shows the combination of traditional milestone planning with regularly timed Sprint planning. In this case, the Sprints always have to provide the results for the next milestone.

Project Management Trends – Combination of traditional and agile methods for appropriate projects

Combination of traditional and agile methods for appropriate projects

Our tip: Inform yourself to find out which of your projects are appropriate for hybrid approaches and what this combination could look like in your case.

Reading tip: Hybrid Project Management – How to Connect Agile and Traditional Methods

Trend 4: Remote Working and Hybrid Work Environments Are Here to Stay

Recently, Microsoft has published the first annual Work Trend Index in 2022. It provides insight into the wellbeing of employees in a remote working world and shows what senior staff should be paying special attention to now.

Project Management Trends –Employees will continue to demand the best of both worlds of working in the office and from home (source The Work Trend Index, Microsoft)

Employees will continue to demand the best of both worlds of working in the office and from home (source The Work Trend Index, Microsoft)

Due to COVID-19, large segments of the workforce have switched to working from home and want to stay there. Others, however, miss the interaction with colleagues in between, e.g. by the coffee machine or in the corridor.

A clear trend becomes apparent which also applies to the project environment of the future: the right mix of remote and onsite working must be found to meet the employees’ wishes and to retain them. This is where companies must adapt.

Our tip: When working from home, hold more but shorter regular meetings for substantive topics. Personal calls will help you feel how the team is doing. Switched-off cameras will only cause greater distance in a virtual meeting. Turn on the camera and encourage your colleagues to do the same for a more human approach to the new situation.

Trend 5: Change Management Is Becoming More Important

Project Management Trends – The difference between project and change management

The difference between project and change management

In the context of digitization, organizational changes are often implemented as projects. In this process, something often goes wrong. Implementing a new software tool, for example, may not bring the desired benefits, as the prospective users have not been duly accommodated, prepared or taken along.

To make projects successful, it is indispensable to duly address the change process in the organization in parallel to the actual content implementation. This is the task of change management.

Project Management Trends – Among other things, change management serves to improve the acceptance of the project outcome

Among other things, change management serves to improve the acceptance of the project outcome

It will depend on the scope of the changes and the number of people affected whether taking care of the change will be a task for the project manager. However, it probably always makes sense in such ventures to get change management specialists on board.

This insight may not be new, but lately people have not only talked about it but actually acted on it. Change management is a key success factor for projects in the future.

Our tip: In change projects, ensure from the beginning that the people affected by the changes are properly prepared and also assisted.

Trend 6: The PMO Is Becoming More Strategic

The PMO is increasingly taking on responsibility for the implementation of strategic targets.  Organizationally, it is most beneficial if the PMO is established as an executive department with direct access to top management.

In this context, successful strategic capacity planning requires an enterprise-wide resource overview and good skills management. Finding and training appropriate resources is essential, as is their even more dynamic assignment to strategically valued projects.

Project Management Trends – Increasing responsibility of the PMO in strategic capacity planning and portfolio management (using the example of TPG PortfolioManaqer)

Increasing responsibility of the PMO in strategic capacity planning and portfolio management (using the example of TPG PortfolioManaqer)

In portfolio management, the PMO should work more towards the abort of weaker projects in the future. A purposeful project abort will free staff members on time for projects with a higher priority.

The term “fail cheap” is not new, yet it is particularly important in this context. It makes sense to recognize failure early and take appropriate action before the damage becomes even greater. This supports the cultural change needed in the future towards successful project failure.

Our tip: Ensure from the top down that failed projects can be recognized as such and aborted. This requires a cultural change throughout the company that takes away the project managers’ fear of failure.

Another poll in the German TPG Webinar on January 26, 2022 regarding the desired future PMO functions arrived at the following results: the respondents rated the support of the project managers highest, followed by standardization / reports, involvement in portfolio management and the coordination of resource management. All of these four responsibilities were desired by over 50% of the 270 webinar participants.

In the future, PMOs must brace themselves for the following changes:

  • Stronger ties to the boardroom / top management
  • Not only creating standards and reports
  • More coordination in resource management
  • Stronger involvement in portfolio management
  • Flexible use of PM methods
  • Individual guidance and support for project managers in traditional, agile or hybrid processes and methods for the right mix
  • Lessons Learned are to be applied and ongoing adjustments to be made to the PM Guide

Project Management Trends – PMO Survey 2020, TPG The Project Group

Trend 7: Using PM Tools Is Becoming Easier

Even now, it is much easier than before to begin using PM tools. This has become possible through the flexible use of offerings in the cloud.

These tools:

  • Are easier to use, as an installation is unnecessary
  • Enable easier billing due to monthly licensing per user
  • Cause less trouble when it comes to cross-company access
  • Enable better collaboration
  • Offer the possibility to use different tools on a case-by-case basis
  • Are easier to launch and more flexible to use in the cloud

Our tip: Get acquainted with appropriate cloud-based tools for your (multi-)project management, e.g. in webinars or on YouTube. Request a live demo of the possibilities, and ask for test versions. Often, getting started is much cheaper than imagined, even for very powerful products.

Conclusion: 7 Project Management Trends in 2022

In this article, you have learned which project management trends are foreseeable from our point of view. We have placed particular emphasis on the areas of resource planning, collaboration, roles, methods and tools.

In conclusion, we present all seven project management trends at a glance:

Do you see other project management trends which you would like to add? We look forward to receiving your feedback. Thank you.


Johann Strasser, The Project Group

Johann Strasser
The certified engineer has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001

After many years as a development engineer in the automotive and energy sectors, Johann Strasser spent a decade as an independent trainer and consultant in the field of project management. During his tenure, he also served as project manager for software projects in the construction industry and provided scheduling and cost management support for large-scale construction projects. At TPG, he applies his expertise in product development and consulting services for international clients. His special focus is on PMO, project portfolios, hybrid project management, and resource management. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.

You can read more about Johann Strasser on LinkedIn and XING.

 


Anna Pauels
Content Marketing Professional

Anna Pauels has worked as a journalist and photographer for the TV stations ARD and ProSieben, as well as newspapers such as Münchner Merkur and tz, and numerous lifestyle magazines. Today, Anna Pauels is a Content Marketing Professional at TPG The Project Group, handling the German and French versions of the blog as well as the social media channels and the monthly newsletter.

You can read more about Anna Pauels on LinkedIn and Xing.

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13 Comments

  1. This article sums up so many trials and tribulations with what my team is trying to plan in our organization but the balance of organizational openness to change and the right subject matter experts in the mix of tools makes the goal almost seem unobtainable

  2. Thank you very much for sharing the above article. In my opinion as a PM, 3) Cross-Company Projects Favor Cloud Solutions; 4) Traditional and Agile Tools Are Best Used in Parallel; and 5) More Customer Projects with Agile Implementation are the most important and common trends in 2019 and beyond.

  3. Alim Shaik on

    Interesting article! The last point had made me recollect one more perspective b/w settlers and new comers to a project.

    • Tina Ciotola on

      Thanks Alim, glad you liked the article! yes I think we tend to forget in our attempt to optimize and find new ways – that we might profit even more if we take a hybrid approach and profit from 2 point of views instead of just one.

  4. MANUEL BENITEZ C. on

    In my opinion:
    Trend 1) Complete resource plans wanted – Very good input
    Trend 2) Sharing Knowledge Will Take You Further – Necessary
    Trend 3) Fixed teams deliver better results – Absolutely necessary
    Trend 4) Cross-Company Projects Favor Cloud Solutions – Yes, when it is possible
    Trend 5) More Customer Projects with Agile Implementation – May be
    Trend 6) Traditional and agile tools are best used together – Yes, I already did it and was a very good solution
    Trend 7) Open-ended results deliver greater benefits – Not always
    Trend 8) Project managers, as communication experts, are accountable for the benefit – Necessary most of the times
    Trend 9) Change management concurrent to project management – Necessary
    Trend 10) PMO bears greater responsibility – Yes, good input
    Trend 11) Cultural change towards accepting successful failure – Necessary
    Trend 12) Change is acceptable if you understand why it’s needed – Why, when and how
    Very good article

      • Very good article, Trend 1 is really the top concern now.
        My only comment would be related to Trend 8) Project Managers Are Accountable for More Than the Result only. Why?
        Usually, the Project Manager “PM” hands-over the result to a responsible business person at project buyer organization – because PM is usually needed for the next project. There are responsibilities of:
        – the responsible business person and
        – PMO (or, project portfolio management unit).
        The responsible business person (in optimal situation) had initiated originally the project idea to get it approved as project for realization and should work with the project output, together with his/her colleagues further to bring the benefits of the project realized (e.g., better product competitiveness via value-added features in service-oriented industries). So, the responsible business person should be accountable for bringing the benefits from the investment / the project realized.
        PMO should be responsible for the definition of data needed (together with the responsible business person) before the project justification and approval – and also for checking the situation after the project end to get the required data for the benefits evaluation, This evaluation should be submitted to the same Committee which had approved the project. In optimal situation, the benefits realization should be tied to certain part of annual bonus of the responsible business person.
        Above process would be sign of high PM & PPM maturity level. In reality, at least from my experience, there has been always fierce opposition of responsible business persons to get accounted for the projected benefits / results, drafted by themselves in competition with other project proposals to get their proposal to be realized as project (in other words, most of them inflated expected benefits a lot ;-). From outside it seems that Google has mastered above process – so no wonder they are so successful.

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