2017 Project Management Retrospective

Trends & Industry Insights
16 Jan 2018

2017 Project Management Retrospective

Growth Trajectory, Improved Results & Emerging Trends

The project management industry continues to show strong growth both globally and locally as indicated by the number of new projects across industry and the increased demand for project skills in jobs. The PMI’s Project Talent & Job Gap Report in 2017 found that the global economy is becoming more projectised and projected that employers will need 87.7 million project professionals by 2027.  In Australia the report identified 474,495 project management roles in 2017; and projected this number would grow to 574,399 by 2027.

PMI’s annual survey for 2017, The Pulse of the Profession found that project success rates as per the traditional pillars of measurement of  delivering on-time, on-budget and to-spec were improved for the first time in five years and this corresponded with a decline in lost dollars equating to 20% less than a year prior. This is no small achievement in our competitive and fast-moving market where achievement corresponds with shifting the bar (aka baseline) for future projects. In other words, the expectation or norm is continual improvement – i.e. deliver more, faster and for less.  The report echoed strategic sentiments that we at Elemental Projects hold dear: that the definition of project success needs to go beyond on-plan measures and consider project outcomes and benefits realisation regardless of which type of project or project methodology you are using.

Emotional Intelligence is a hot topic in the leadership space and it will be interesting to see how this is embedded in project management practices moving forward – along with the growing incorporation of Design Thinking, visual facilitation techniques and online collaboration tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Trello, Asana and many more.

The PMI released the 6th Edition of the ‘PMBOK Guide’ in 2017 along with the first ever ‘Agile Practice Guide’ which we will see integrated into project management courses and practices over 2018.

Industry Insights

IT Projects & Catching Butterflies

It seemed appropriate to call this blog a ‘retrospective’ to acknowledge the continued growth of adaptive project management methodologies (think “agile” for the most well-known of these incremental project management delivery methodologies – plus SAFe, LeSS, DAD etc.) in 2017, most prevalently in the IT space but also cross-pollinating with other methodologies in different contexts. Whilst this journey is relatively immature, the trend overall highlights a desire to develop more flexible work practices to capitalise on emerging opportunities (or put more poetically, to catch butterflies). PMI’s annual survey for 2017, The Pulse of the Profession, found that 71% of organisations surveyed report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes, often or always.

Organisation Transformation Infiltration

Most medium to large organisations across all industries are undergoing major transformation journeys (another key theme of project management for the year) to meet the challenges of the disrupted market. Two notable Australian examples are Qantas and Myers who have attempted to re-make their brand and product offering with divergent results. It will be interesting to watch key industries whose core offerings are likely to be challenged due to declining natural resources in the coming years, such as the automobile industry, to see how they remake themselves and their value-proposition.

Yet other organisations are busy transforming their organisational structure from more traditional hierarchical models to more collaborative or social frameworks to leverage on human resource capital and digital technology. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2017 report describes this shift as the cultivation of a holistic employee experience encompassing culture, engagement, well-being, human resources and more, and citing that “nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent)”.

The boom in these type of super soft transformation projects is correlated with a corresponding need for skilled change management resources from a talent and recruitment perspective. On the flip side, and predictably, the demand for data analytics and digital skills continues to rise across industry.

Health, Environment & Social Change

Other significant soft projects in the public space continue to emerge locally and globally to deal with changing social and environmental challenges such as water and air supply, immigration and refugee programs, along with natural disaster relief projects to name but a few.

Construction & Infrastructure Boom

Meanwhile on the harder end of the spectrum, there is a healthy pipeline of projects in the construction, infrastructure and engineering industry to support population growth in what has been described in NSW as a boom driving the country’s economic growth. These industries are suffering from a skilled resource shortage in the face of rapid growth in demand; and this heralds a need for more stringent risk management practices by property developers and the like to control quality and reduce on-site accident rates for residential and infrastructure projects alike.

Associated industries such as architecture and design companies are experiencing related growth – whilst drawing on different technical skills and delivering their projects differently.

Banking & Finance

We have seen a lot of change and challenge in the banking sector in 2017 including the rapid and disruptive growth of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Seeing the back of ATM fees from the Big Four was a brief distraction from a news cycle that accused the banks of profit mongering and corrupt practices. Despite high profit margins the banks are still feeling the heat of disruption and undergoing major internal change and automation programs. For example, according to the SMH, NAB recently announced that it would cut up to 6,000 jobs over the coming three years to reduce expenses – though this would be counterbalanced by the addition of 2,000 technology hires.

Defence & Aerospace

The Australian Defence industry continues to grow to support the $200 billion investment outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper. According to the SMH, Malcolm Turnbull said: “Our defence industry plan is not simply securing our Air Force and our Army and our Navy with the capabilities they need to keep us safe in the 21st century.. It is driving the advanced manufacturing, the jobs, the advanced technology that Australians need to make sure our children and grandchildren have the opportunities in the years ahead”. In 2017, the annual ‘Avalon Airshow’ was the largest in history (attended by over 210,000 people) and showcased Australia’s latest defence and aerospace equipment, including the highly anticipated Joint Strike Fighter.

Musings by Elemental Projects

2017 has been a great year for Elemental Projects and we wish to give thanks to all our clients and industry connections that have played a part in the growth and development of our business. Key highlights for the year include the following:

  • Receiving commendations from an auditor that our flagship ‘Diploma of Project Management’ program was of an “exceptionally high standard and fully addressed cohort and industry requirements” and that it was “one of the best in the country”
  • Co-winning another award with client Sydney Water for the ‘Best Team Building Project’ (LearnX, 2017) for our project simulation, The Battle, and presenting this case study at the LearnX National Conference, AIPM National Conference and the AITD National Conference
  • The growth in uptake of Ecademy, our video based bite sized e-learning project management solution
  • Launching two new project simulations:
    • Game of Moans – a change management simulation employing key change concepts such as readiness assessments and impact analysis’ and set in a fantasy world with monarchs and dragons. We were proud to showcase this at the Change Leadership Summit (Humanity In Business) in 2017
    • Le Brouhaha – an agile project management simulation where Royalists and Revolutionaries compete for territory and glory and featuring sprints, retrospectives, drones, nerf guns and more. It was our pleasure to launch this simulation at the ever popular project management meetup, Delivering Value – Shaping the Future, in November 2017
  • Collaborating with key business partners such as PM Logic to deliver transformation and portfolio project management consulting services for some of our valued clients
  • Continuing to work with the ‘National Training and Careers Centre’ to support indigenous Australians on the project management career path.

Bring on 2018! Let’s make it a great one.

If we can help with any project management professional development needs, please be in touch.