Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Trends

2018 Project Management Trends to Watch Out For

The world of project management is dynamic and ever-changing. Regardless of the industry, the advent of new technologies, globalization, employee work preferences, and ever-expanding budgets brings volatility to project management.

If you are manager, you must be able to adjust to these trends. In spite of the deadlines, meetings, leadership, and day-to-day duties, managers need to make time to take a look at projected trends in the field of project management. These may differ depending on the industry, but there will always be trends that impact the general practice. So, as project managers are preparing their strategies for the remainder of the year, we have gathered some 2018 patterns that you should note carefully.

Read on for eight project management trends making a splash this year.

The Continued Rise of Artificial Intelligence and Automation

If project managers thought that AI would stop at Siri and the Google Personal Assistant, they were sadly mistaken. AI is creeping into every part of businesses processes: from automatically triggering email alerts when consumers complete a task on a website to sending automatic reminders to employees, technology is becoming even more expansive. In recent years, the opportunities for this technology has risen for project managers, but this will become more prominent beginning this year.

In a survey by PwC, 50 percent of workers surveyed would follow an AI program if it predicted the most efficient way to manage a product. A couple of project management AI programs have already hit the market recently. ClickUp can predict the feasibility of deadlines depending on tasks already completed, and can even attach specific functions to workers it feels the most capable. Zivebox and Rescoper also handle similar automation.

The Millennial Project Manager

For the first time, millennials are now old enough to have the years of experience needed to be a project manager. The average age of many managers in the United States is 35, and as the oldest millennials began to approach that age, many are now in the line-up to become managers.

The PMP certification requires two years of leading and directing projects, while many positions require at least five years of work experience before offering those types of opportunity. When you do the math, you are approaching almost seven years after an undergraduate education (in conservative estimates). This means companies and senior project managers will have to begin instituting perks that appeal to millennials to attract them.

Startups Are Getting Savvy with Project Management

Not that long ago, fledgling startups were not able to compete with the project management staff and processes of larger companies and corporations. But in recent years, we have seen a shift in the resources that are available to startups.

According to TechRepublic, a considerable increase in affordable web-based project management tools have allowed startups to avoid the pitfalls caused by disorganization and wasted resources. Project managers should know there are a lot of viable employment opportunities available with startups.

Large companies and expensive software packages are no longer the norm when it comes to effective project management.

A Larger Emphasis on Big Data

It is hard to improve or implement new strategies without prioritizing access to analytics. Project managers can use analytics to improve communications, better facilitate interactions with clients, and monitor transactions to see products and services that resonate with constituents.

According to data gathered by Red Pixie, by 2020 every person will create 1.7 MB data every single second and the number of IoT connected devices is forecasted to reach up to 30 billion by 2020. The project management software offerings that are helping startups and smaller companies better manage program processes will have further capabilities to use data from consumers to help managers select the best strategies for moving forward.

Wider Adoption of the Agile Environment Framework

Capterra and have cited a movement toward the use of more agile methods of managing projects. There is still a nod to traditional project management techniques, but new business obstacles are requiring project managers to multi-task and approach situations with a hybrid methodology that blends the old and new.

Project managers will have to face a world where workers want a lot more flexibility in how they approach work along with a greater emphasis on active customer experience strategies, automation, and faster and smaller teams. Project managers have to continue to become comfortable with moving rapidly from one project to the next. While some are likely already doing this, as a field, project management depends heavily on the decisions of others and is sometimes stalled due to slow-moving bureaucracy.

These days, customers and businesses alike are expecting quick output that adheres to customer-focused goals.

Remote Work is Here to Stay

According to Gallup, approximately 37 percent of the workforce works remotely during some part of the month. And according to Fast Company, it is projected that 25 percent more individuals will not work in a traditional brick and mortar office by 2020. This statistic should be a wakeup call for every project manager who has not yet spoken with senior management to invest in robust collaborative and communication tools.

It is not a given that the next skilled employee will be assigned to the office. They might be in another state or country. Therefore, project managers have to become comfortable with leading through digital channels like Slack, Trello, Asana, Skype, and Google Docs. For meetings, managers have to take into account everyone’s time zone constraints, and there has to be an organized way for everyone to check in and communicate.

The idea of the distributed team is here to stay, and it looks as if the numbers of those participating will continue to grow.

An Increase in Short-Term Project Managers

Much like the increase of remote work, companies are also experiencing and benefitting from the rise of those within the gig economy. The gig economy is filled with short-term contract workers and freelancers who are only contracted when needed.

In this year’s survey, PMI found that 68 percent of the organizations they surveyed reported using outsourced or contracted project managers. Workers are swiftly moving from organization to organization, and many companies have embraced this notion. Project managers may experience a rise in team members who are freelancing, and they may even seek to find side-projects to supplement income or enter the gig economy themselves.

Technology, as well as the growing need for project managers, has nurtured this new arrangement.

A Growing Field

Companies are seeing the benefits of project managers, and they are clamoring for more of them. According to PMI, by 2027, employers will need almost 90 million individuals to fill project management roles. They are looking for those who have formal project management training, defined career paths, technical skills, and comfort with versatility and strategic thinking.

For those considering a jump into the project management field, the future looks incredibly bright. As companies begin to break down full-on programs into one-off projects, the need for people to manage them will always be there. Project managers should consider getting as much training as possible as well as look into a formal certification if they do not have one already. Highly-skilled and experienced managers will be in high-demand for the next decade.

Final Thoughts

While many of these trends have started before this year, their impact has increased.

The consensus is that high-level experience with technology, data analytics, and agility will be a preference for most employers. Project managers who have experience with managing remote teams along with formal expertise and official certifications will catch the eye of recruiters.

As the workforce begins to change and short-term agreements and freelancing continues to become commonplace, project managers will have many options in how and when they like to work. These next ten years will probably see more changes in the field than ever before.


How to use data analytics to improve project outcomes,

I, Project Manager: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace,

The 5 Biggest Project Management Trends Shaping 2018,