"Predicting the future is an activity usually best left to crystal balls and fortune cookies. Yet there is no shortage of pundits predicting the future of project management. A recent Google search of “future of project management” yielded over 60,000 results! I will now take my place among these soothsayers and predict for you what the future will be for project managers in the A/E/C industry.
- The “Professionalization” of Project Management. The skills needed to provide technical services are not the same as those needed for effective project management. Effective PMs need “soft” leadership skills as well as strong communication and planning skills. Our industry is recognizing that project management is a profession of its own and that we must recognize and reward project managers for the unique skills they bring to the table. Specialized training courses, project management degrees, and certifications such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) lend credibility to project management as a separate skill set from technical project delivery.
- Virtual work teams. As the A/E/C industry consolidates with high merger and acquisition activity, we are seeing more project teams spread among various geographic locations. We are also seeing more Gen Y’ers and Millennials demanding a level of work/ life balance that involves less travel and more time at home with family. Both of these trends mean that increasingly, our project teams may be spread among various locations and even time zones. The successful project manager will need to know how to use project collaboration tools and effectively manage virtual teams.
- Sustainability in the projects we deliver and how we deliver them. Whether it is a decrease in carbon footprint, water footprint, or cradle-to-grave waste minimization, our clients will ask us to evaluate ways to deliver sustainable projects. As PMs, we will be asked to measure the risk to natural resources against the costs to protect those resources. Even our project delivery methods will be scrutinized to ensure sustainable practices in our project delivery methodology.
- The Only Constant will be Change. Successful project managers will need to adapt to new technologies and methods of communication. Social media, cloud computing, new hardware form factors, and new project management software will change the way we manage people, projects, clients, and data. The rate of change will only increase and those who embrace the changes, adapt to new approaches, and are willing to take risks will reap the benefits of success.