Future project leaders will need to broaden their skills in the coming years as the digital transformation of the business world continues to sweep through every industry in every part of the globe.

Those are among the findings in the 2018 Pulse Of The Profession® report from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. The report highlights feedback and insights from 4,455 project management practitioners, 447 senior executives and 800 project management office (PMO) directors. Those surveyed come from a wide variety of industries and locations.

PMI focuses on future trends because, as the report notes, organizations “need to look – and think – forward.” It’s an issue in the business world that looms large as technology continues to disrupt virtually every industry.

One projection rings the loudest: more people educated in project management and process improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma will be needed. PMI projects that about 88 million people will be needed for project management-related work by 2027 around the world.

PMI points to the following three major trends that will arise in project management in the coming years.

Formal Approaches

Organizations continue to use a variety of approaches to project management, including predictive, Agile methodology or some type of hybrid. PMI expects that to continue in 2018 and beyond but said the main issue that businesses need is a formal approach in place.

Businesses that use a formal methodology on projects reached their goals 73% of the time, PMI’s report found. Of those surveyed who used a formal approach, 63% came in within budget and 59% met deadlines.

Broadening Skills

A more complex business environment is expected to continue to drive project managers to hone their skills in a variety of process improvement strategies, including that of Lean and Six Sigma. Both methodologies, which focus on reducing waste and process variance, provide strategies that work well in collaboration with project management.

According to the report, performance improvement will continue to be a key metric as project managers focus on keeping relevant with their skills and keeping organizations competitive.

Part of this is driven by the expanding role of project managers, Business leaders surveyed by PMI said project managers now are expected to serve as a strategic advisor, innovator and communicator. All these roles tie into making operations more efficient and nimble, the primary goal of process improvement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Disruption

For decades, organizations have simply reacted to disruption. In the case of some industries, it wasn’t a particularly quick reaction (newspapers, for example). But PMI projects that going forward, project managers will be asked to take advantage of coming transformations brought on by technology.

That will require having expertise in the data-driven world. About 25% of those surveyed by PMI reported that the most needed skill for project managers is the ability to learn and apply technology to projects. That ranked above communication, leadership and adaptability.

Not doing so could have dire consequences for companies. A project manager at a multi-national aerospace company told PMI that project managers “cannot apply the same mindset we used to have.” Another said project managers now must take on the role of providing insights and helping develop strategy by leveraging data analysis.

As project managers expand their responsibilities within organizations and acquire more knowledge in process improvement and technology, they will continue to play a key role in driving businesses to achieve goals.

PMI and Pulse of the Profession are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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