Definitive Project Management Trends for 2016 – The Celoxis Outlook

2015 has been an interesting year for Project Management. We saw portfolio management become a top priority and companies starting to consolidate their project management initiatives with all-in-one project management tools. According to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Practices, almost all — 97% — of surveyed companies believe that project management (PM) is “critical to business performance and organizational success, and 94% agreed that PM enables business growth.” These numbers are an endorsement of how enterprises looked at project management in 2015.

We got our think tank together last week and decided to take a shot at predicting what 2016 will be like for Project Management. Here is what our crystal ball shows.

Time to master virtual project management

We believe that virtual project management is more a product of globalization and changing workplace dynamics rather than by design. So it’s really a question of organizations doing their best to cope with the evolution. We look at this as an important trend as enterprises don’t really have a choice but to crack this. The numbers today show a not so good picture: A recent Forrester survey of nearly 10,000 information workers in 17 countries showed that 94% of employees report using e‑mail, but only 33% ever participate in desktop video conferencing (with apps such as Skype and Viber), and a mere 25% use room-based video conferencing (Source: HBR). Based on our experience of working with enterprises, we see that organizations have started to factor in virtual project management right at the project charter stage. Enabling seamless communication across the project lifecycle is going be the challenge to address. Companies that get this aspect right in 2016 will see themselves in a strong position going into 2017.

Structuring teams around project complexity

To say that team dynamics will continue to change in 2016 would be the easiest thing to do…heck, that wouldn’t even measure up as a prediction. So instead, we are going to give you the bitter pill. The time for the org structure template is over. Project complexities will decide how the teams will be structured, what tools they will use and how the execution will happen. PMOs will have a crucial role to play in bringing this kind of flexibility and agility into the organization. It’s time for enterprises to take a cue from the manufacturing sector and bring that level of rigor to their project management methodology.

Technology not as a utility but as an enabler

As a Top 5 project management software provider, we have been seeing a healthy trend arise in 2015. A lot of the discussions we had this year were about how our software could enable business outcomes. According to our think tank, 2016 will push software providers to think beyond standard feature sets. It will be about integration with a functional ecosystem, data capture, visualization & insights. We predict that enterprise will increasingly switch to all-in-one tools to enhance productivity, efficiency and consolidate reporting. The next 2-3 years will be decisive years for software providers to come out of the shadows of time & task management tools and evolve into true-blue work management platforms.

PPM as an organization mandate

At the start of 2015, we made a prediction that PPM will take center-stage this year. Yes, that happened to some extent but the adoption rates are still not as good as they should be. Enterprises agree that this is the top priority yet adoption numbers show otherwise. Obviously, there are certain issues. 2016 will be about understanding those roadblocks and getting past them because non-adoption is not an option. Companies will look to their PMOs and process excellence teams to figure this out and make amendments. Leaders will most likely make PPM adoption and success an organizational mandate and a key performance metric.

Customers as stakeholders

Wait a minute! Customers as stakeholders? Are we nuts? Yes, we are, but we have a point. Customers are no longer interested in standing by the sidelines and being fed with status reports. They are demanding real-time visibility into project status and risk scenarios. With stakes being so high, customers don’t want to leave anything to chance. Project teams need to build a process and technology ecosystem that allows customers to have extended participation and visibility. Organizations, as well as software providers, need to gear up to provide that ecosystem. Because the days of “customers as pure investors” and “vendors as over the fence delivery guys” are pretty much history.

It always good to see the project management methodologies make positive changes and evolve with each passing year. What’s exciting about the 2016 project management outlook is that it promises a healthy balance between technological advances and human side of the project management discipline. May the force be with you in 2016!