Project Management Trends for 2021

Following a year dominated by remote working and online project management, Paul Mathison, Senior Project Manager at Storm Technology, shares the PMO trends he will be watching out for in 2021!

The author of this page: Paul Mathison
Paul Mathison, Project Planning & Delivery Team Lead Jan 11, 2021

As was the case across many industries globally, Covid-19 forced organisations to re-think their project management, moving almost overnight from co-located to the remote management of project teams. A move that has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based project management solutions and emphasised the importance of soft skills within project management.

With 73% of executives viewing their switch to a virtual environment a success according to a recent study conducted by PWC, it is unlikely we will see a complete return to the co-located working environment of the past. With this in mind, it's safe to assume virtual collaboration will remain crucial for project success in 2021 and beyond.

With this in mind, let's now look at some of the key trends likely to dominate Project Management in 2021.

Context for Collaboration

With remote working likely to remain at the fore in 2021, working with teams across various backgrounds and individuals from both within and outside of the organisation both in-person and online, will require Project Managers to re-think collaboration. To get everyone on the same page regardless of their level of involvement and ensure team members have access to the context necessary to ensure project success.

Creating a culture of contextual collaboration is key. Empowering teams to succeed and minimising unnecessary setbacks ensures they have easy access to the tools and information they need to succeed. Over the past 12 months, we have seen a shift in focus. More and more organisations seek smart integrations across systems to facilitate the seamless flow of project data across the organisation. Such integrations include leveraging collaboration tool MS Teams to create a singular virtual environment for all project tasks that seamlessly connects to your teams' systems and applications day-to-day.

Project & Change Management

Change is inevitable from small adjustments to internal processes to a total overhaul of a company's structure or technology infrastructure. With the emergence of Coronavirus, this rate of organizational change was further accelerated in 2020. Organisations were forced to rethink the status quo to safeguard employees and customers alike while completing previously existing projects.

Project managers are now frequently tasked managing their own projects and the organisation’s change initiatives. Change Management, a systematic approach to dealing with changes by applying effective tools, knowledge and resources, long shown to support a project's success, has become a critical tool for Project Managers. Supporting the human side of change and providing the toolkit needed to navigate predicted and unpredicted changes within a project, 2021 is likely to see Change Management's rise as an integral part of Project Management.

Increased AI & Machine Automation Adoption

Organisations in all industries have turned to emerging technology such as the internet of things (IoT), cloud services, and artificial intelligence to keep up pace with evolving market trends, and project management is no exception.

For project managers today, juggling multiple teams and projects has become the norm. Smart automation reduces the time spent on mundane tasks such as scheduling and project balancing. AI and machine learning can harness existing project and business data, turning data into insight and insight into action. With AI and Automation handling admin heavy tasks, the Project Manager can focus their time and attention on project elements that need the human touch, including communication and more complex problem-solving.

While there is no avoiding the constant evolution that the field of project management is going through, modern project management looks set to thrive with emerging technologies and an increased focus on its people's wellbeing to take centre stage in 2021.

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