2016 - Project Management Post Year Review

14 Jan 2017

2016 – Project Management Post Year Review

Key Project Management Trends

No sooner did the shops start to put up Christmas decorations in October than it seems we have been thrown headlong into a new year, leaving 2016 unceremoniously behind us. It was an eventful year globally, politically, environmentally, economically and socially – with lots of exciting change, innovation, unrest and some surpising political appointments in ally corners. In the project management context, we have seen three major trends emerge over 2016.

  1. The Professionalisation of Project Management

The maturation of the project management industry was evident by two exciting global developments, which will certainly flow through to the Australian marketplace in the medium term.

In the UK, the Association of Project Managers (APM) took a significant step towards achieving Chartered Status in October 2016 when the Privy Council issued an ‘Order of Grant, which will see them awarded a charter. This association resolution has been underway since 2007. Chartered status will result in greater industry regulation by the government and raise the standards of project delivery for the benefit of the economy.

In December 2016 in the USA, President Barack Obama legislated the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA) to drive best practice project and program management. The change was strongly supported by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and will lead to greater professionalisation, collaboration and efficiency in project management and the industry in general.

Mirroring the professionalisation of the industry occurring at a macro, global and legal level, we are seeing changes occur in the retail market domestically. Over the last year there has been a solid increase in the demand for project management certifications for Project Managers, which has been reflected in job descriptions and recruitment selection criteria. For example the number of PMP Credential Holders in October 2016 according to the PMIToday magazine was 741,007 worldwide, up nearly 10% from 678,619 in October 2015. It is expected this trend will continue throughout 2017.

  1. Strategic Project Management

2016 saw an increased focus on building project management capability across industry as the fundamental link between strategy and delivery and in a market characterised by unprecedented rates of change and disruption.

At the people level, enhanced leadership skills for project managers have become the vehicle of choice to improve the delivery of project outcomes and to support benefits realisation.

At the process level, the development and adoption of more sophisticated portfolio management capability has and will continue to be a major objective across industry and particularly for large organisations as a key lever for success in a high-change and increasingly complex environment.

At the tools level, there are more technology options to support portfolio, program and project management than ever before including collaborative platforms, cloud solutions and project management software packages. One could argue its not about ‘one’ solution being the ‘be-all-and-end-all’, but rather about ensuring people are adequately supported by technology and templates to the appropriate scale, complexity and functionality required to ‘do the job’ well. As with the introduction of any new system or process, the ultimate value of the change depends equally on the features of the new tool as it does on the effectiveness of the associated change management program to drive awareness, take-up and utilisation in practice.

  1. Adaptive Project Management

Adaptive project management has been around for over 15 years, perhaps most well known in the forms of agile, SCRUM, KANBAN, plus many others. However in recent years the adoption of these approaches has notably increased in the IT, Product Development and Marketing sectors.

At the broader industry level there has been a larger transformation underway as organisations attempt to evolve their existing methodologies to make them more ‘adaptive’ in practice – with varying levels of success. At the heart of this change is a desire to be more flexible, innovative, customer focused and team orientated and by reducing the level of documentation and governance imposed on projects. Here I would caution you not to reduce adaptive project management to agile or any other single methodology. The emphasis here is less about replacing one methodology with another, and more about up-skilling Project Managers across multiple methodologies and approaches to inform more strategic (see point 2) and adaptive execution.

Just as we would expect our local mechanic to be able to repair a Ford, Holden or Honda vehicle and to select the right tools for the given job – more adaptive Project Managers will be familiar with a range of different methodologies (e.g. PRINCE2, PMBOK) and be able to select and/or adapt the best approach for the individual project and context. This ‘tailoring’ of the approach is about applying experience and insight to ensure there is both enough rigour and structure to support the project and adequately manage risk – whilst not bogging your team down with weighty governance requirements that reduce their efficiency and ability to capitalise on opportunities. At Elemental Projects we refer to this as The Goldilocks Principle, namely getting the approach “just right!”, and this is also why our focus is on skill development (over fundamentalist adherence to methodology).

Other Industry Change

The defense industry has been reinvigorated and is once again a busy hive of project-based activity, driven by the First Principles Review and One Defence strategy. In December 2016, the Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, launched the Defence Innovation Hub and called for submissions through its innovation portal. He said “The Defence Innovation Hub will invest around $640 million over the decade into maturing and further developing technologies that have moved from the early science stages into the engineering and development stages” (asiapacificdefencereporter.com).

The federal government’s commitment to the largest naval shipbuilding program in our history and as articulated in the 2016 Defence White Paper (DWP) has been anecdotally valued at over $100 billion dollars over the next few decades.

Training Trends

The incorporation and expansion of gamification mechanics in learning and development has made waves in 2016 and this trend looks set to continue well into the future as the demand for more engaging, practical and sticky training grows. The highly acclaimed Trendhunter identified gamified training and onboarding as a key business trend and similarly ‘grown up playtime’ as a key marketing trend for 2017. In the project management training space these trends manifest primarily in e-learning design and in more interactive formats such as project simulations, which can be used for team building, professional development and change management.

Other key trends in training include: the accelerated growth of e-learning as a mainstream practice across all contexts; the 70:20:10 framework along with learning transfer; and more recently, the shift towards an employee led learning model which increasingly features bite sized learning, last minute learning and mobile technology. More on all these developments in another blog soon to come.

A Word from Elemental Projects

On a personal front, Elemental Projects has had a great year including expanding our team and the following key milestones:

 2017, the Year of Bold Collaboration

In 2017, we look forward to: continuing to grow the business; working with new and existing clients; and designing and delivering great training programs and project simulations that support professional and organisational development.

Specifically, we are looking forward to:

  • Launching Ecademy
  • Getting more innovative in the gamification space
  • Boldly collaborating like never before.

Have a great year one and all, and if we can assist in any way please don’t hesitate to contact us.