11 Trends in Project Management and Resource Planning in 2019


+++ Where Are Project Management and Resource Planning Going in 2019 +++ The Most Important Project Management Trends at a Glance +++

By Johann Strasser                                                                                                             Read article in German

This post will give you an overview of our assessment of trends in project management and resource planning for 2019. It is based on our experience gathered in customer projects, training and internal discussions.

We hope you will be able to set the right direction for your environment from the following assessments and forecasts. Possibly, you will also find that the text merely reflects your opinions.

At any rate, we would appreciate a short comment from your side at the end of the article reflecting your appraisal of one or two project management trends – agreements are as welcome as opposing views. Many thanks in advance.

1)  Call for Complete Resource Planning

First things first: The trend towards optimizing the resource utilization continues, as an alleviation of tension in the resource situation is not in sight. Those responsible will have to keep trying 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 in the future. Only by consolidating the two perspectives, will you obtain complete and therefore reliable resource planning.

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

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.

There is a growing awareness that rough yet complete resource planning is more helpful for this purpose than precise planning for only a few projects.

If you are not satisfied with your resource planning, you can read more on the topic of introducing and improving resource planning in this article.

2)  Sharing Knowledge Will Take You Further

Resource conflicts arise from not having enough suitable staff members to assign contemporaneously. 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.

Hence, it is not the actual number of people that is the problem but the bottlenecks for certain skills. To counteract this development, you should ensure that knowledge carriers share their expertise at least within individual teams. You may be faster on your own in the short term. Yet in the long term, 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. This is a development which will have to become prevalent.

You might also enjoy reading: Skills Management: What Skills Will Your Resources Need When?

3)  Cross-Company Projects Favor Cloud Solutions

But what if your company is lacking the necessary knowledge, particularly in some areas of the ubiquitous digitalization? In this case, there are no knowledge carriers with anything to share. Hence, the question whether to “make or buy” will be much more important in the future.

At the same time, many industries register a rise in components that have versatile uses. So joint developments across companies are becoming more and more natural. We believe cross-company collaboration in projects will continue to increase.

This is also an important driver which will further intensify the use of PPM software in the cloud. Cloud solutions make it very easy to enable this kind of collaboration, at least from a technical point of view. Licensing is also easy in this case. All companies involved pay their share of temporary licenses. Alternatively, they can invoice them in a transparent way.

If you are looking for a powerful cross-company cloud solution, find out more about the arguments for Microsoft Project Online.

4)  Traditional and Agile Tools Are Best Used in Parallel

When it comes to software tools, the endeavor to consolidate traditional and agile functions is another trend for the coming years. Manufacturers of traditional systems endeavor to build in agile functions, such as Kanban Boards, Sprints, and Burn-Down Charts.

The representatives from the agile world add bar charts for higher-level Sprint planning and try their hands at portfolio and resource management. Nevertheless, this type of fusion has yet to reach an optimal result.

In the light of this, it continues to make more sense to use tools for project and work management in parallel, but to integrate them well. At the higher level, your tools should be traditional with phases and milestones, but at lower levels, tools and processes can be more and more agile.

For instance, you might want to integrate Microsoft Project with familiar tools for work management, such as Jira or Microsoft Planner, which is easy to do. Read more about the integration of Jira with MS Project.

5)  More Customer Projects with Agile Implementation

Among customers, there is great uncertainty about what and how to order in today’s VUCA world. Thus, the trend goes towards more and more agile development orders in collaboration with other departments or companies.

Learn more about the role of the PMO in our VUCA world in this article.

This is less and less about complying with a fixed specification. After all, such a specification is not yet available at the time of ordering. Increasingly, projects are about ensuring the benefit of a deliverable, as formulated by the customer, with the aid of agile methods.

This trend can be observed across many industries, even far removed from software products. Yet, the growing software component in products and solutions is a decisive driver for the dissemination of agile methods. Though this trend is not new, it is still far from its peak.

Read this article to learn which method fits your project – agile, traditional or hybrid.

6)  Open-Ended Results Can also Mean Exact Marksmanship

The attempt to complete complex projects with theoretically clear specifications meeting a fixed deadline has failed often enough. This costly experience once made increases the appreciation for the much-discussed open-ended results that characterize agile approaches as opposed to traditionally intended goal attainment.

The openness towards the ultimate result in agile approaches can bring about a generally accepted result with a greater benefit than the originally targeted goal would have done. The basis for this is the regular close coordination between customer, project manager and project team. This makes for clarity about the desired and feasible results.

A regular coordination would be possible in traditional projects, too. Unfortunately, it is usually pure theory. Yet in agile teams, it is actually lived in practice.

With traditional methods, the marksmanship can turn out to be decidedly inferior. After all, it may be that the originally targeted goal fails to provide the intended benefit. We think this insight will gain acceptance.

In projects with yet uncertain goals, fight for an agile approach from the beginning! Thus, you will not miss the allegedly clear goal with shortcomings. On the contrary, you will hit the jointly changed goal.

Read more on “Hybrid Project Management – How to Connect Agile and Traditional Methods”.

7)  Project Managers Are Accountable for the Benefit

The logical implication of the above trend is that the project manager has a greater influence on the final outcome. After all, the goals themselves are only shaped in the course of the project.

This is how the future project managers will not be responsible for the deliverables only. They will also have to account for the benefit these deliverables are supposed to provide.

This entails an additional broadening of the skills required in project managers. Therefore, do ensure that this development is considered in your project managers’ future training.

8)  Fixed Teams Obtain Better Results

The staff on an agile team remains the same throughout and truly collaborates on usable results. They have estimated the feasibility and scope of the intended results and divided these into Sprints. This makes it much clearer what actually can be achieved and what cannot.

Agile means that a usable result has to be obtained on all accounts. It may, however, vary from the original plan if this has been agreed with the customer. The main point is that it has to be meaningful as well as feasible.

The responsible parties have to keep their promise in the end and not just promise the untenable in the beginning. The essential key to this are the constant team structure paired with the accountability of the team.

Added to this are the Product Owner’s or project manager’s iterative collaboration with the stakeholders and regular feedback. Whether or not you are going to refer to this as agile is irrelevant.

9)  More Responsibility for the PMO

We are convinced that the iterative design of the work environment will further affect the organization of PMOs.

Without standardized methods, processes and tools, there will be no success in multi-project management – neither with a traditional nor with an agile approach. If you are going to change the organization along with it, you will need to plan and manage this change with care.  For this, the PMO will be held far more accountable than has hitherto been the case.

Due to digitalization, projects also emerge in areas which have hitherto been covered by operations without the need for project management. Allow the PMO to lay the groundwork enabling this integration to occur smoothly.

There is a trend to let the PMO set the pace across departments for the generation of results in and around projects – across the entire value chain of the company.

10)  Cultural Change towards Accepting Successful Failure

The trend for the PMO towards implementing strategic targets continues further. Yet, you can only achieve this, if your resource situation permits it. To this end, the PMO needs an enterprise-wide overview of the available skills. In the future, the skills will have to be assigned more dynamically to the strategically important projects.

In this context, it is also necessary to abort projects which have come to be less viable. After all, a purposeful project abort will free staff members on time for projects with a higher priority. The catchphrase “Fail Cheap” is not new in this context. All the same, it does contribute to the necessary cultural change regarding successful failure.

What is it like at your company? Is the justified abort of a project regarded as positive? Or is it still viewed as the project manager’s failure? Arrange for cultural change.

Find more detail here: How You Abort a Project – Establish a Culture of Successful Failure!

11)  We Need Both – Settlers and Pioneers

These days, many employees highly regard new organizational forms, fun at work and self-determination.  Yet, there continue to be many who prefer a traditional type of management.

And that is a good thing. After all, we will continue to need not only pioneers but also any number of settlers.  In the future, diversity is sure to grow even more – and project management will become even more colorful.

Which of the 11 project management trends we presented do you judge to be the most important? Please let us know your opinion in a short comment below.

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  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.

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