A project manager talks with employees during a meeting.

A Look into the Future of Project Management

Business Administration

The growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are popular topics in many business articles. Gartner reports that 59% of enterprise organizations deployed AI projects as of December 2018. Furthermore, the number of AI and ML projects implemented by the average company is expected to increase from an average of 4 to 35 by 2022. The future of project management will require knowledge of managing the impact of these two emerging applications on the organization.

As disruptive technologies, AI and ML may replace established technologies and require a new mindset and processes in the work environment. Another disruption is the way organizations will manage teams responsible for ensuring the success of technology-based projects. Firms will depend on skilled and expertly trained project managers to take the lead of integrating technology into the workplace. Earning an advanced business degree can prepare professionals for this role now and in the future.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

While the pace and complexity of corporate projects may quicken and the methods of shepherding them through completion may change, certain project management fundamentals are evergreen and remain a part of the future of project management. A project manager’s responsibilities commonly span the five phases of the project life cycle, as described by CIO:

  • Initiating—entails creating the project charter and identifying stakeholders.
  • Planning—considers the project’s scope, cost, time, resources, risk, communication, and stakeholder expectations.
  • Executing—requires ensuring quality, communication between team members, and resource availability.
  • Monitoring—keeps track of the project scope, time and cost limits, and day-to-day communication.
  • Closing—requires shutting down all project operations, including procurements.

Successfully implementing projects through the 5 phases requires expertise in 10 knowledge areas:

  • Integration
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Human resources
  • Communication
  • Risk management
  • Procurement
  • Stakeholder management

Future Trends in Project Management

While leadership, communication, critical thinking, and other soft skills are always vital for project managers, the future of project management requires a knowledge of how to seamlessly integrated technology into company operations. The Project Management Institute (PMI) recently defined the term Project Management Technology Quotient (PMTQ) that emphasizes the importance of digital fluency and the ability to support digital sustainability as imperative skills among project managers.

Four workplace trends that will require new skillsets of project managers are described by Forbes:

  • The increased presence of technology. Many administrative project tasks will likely be automated by AI techniques, particularly in the areas of scheduling and resource allocation.
  • The potential need for a broader skillset. Nearly all projects will encompass advanced technologies such as blockchain and predictive/prescriptive analytics requiring that project managers be well versed in these technologies and their application.
  • Increased hybridization of management methods. To accommodate the fast pace of digital and technology transformation, project managers must adopt methodologies to meet the changing needs of team members and stakeholders in dynamic business environments.
  • Increased diversity of work methods in project management teams. The workforce is changing just as rapidly as technology. Project managers must prepare for new work styles and schedules such as telecommuting and other remote work situations, along with a greater mix of full-time, part-time, contract, and freelance team members.

Emerging Concepts in Project Management

The approaches companies take to manage their projects must adapt and evolve to match the changes in their business unit operations. For example, the growing implementation of new software innovations throughout organizations requires that future project managers adopt the latest agile methodologies and integrated design principles now used by development and operations teams.

Software development previously relied on the “waterfall” approach.  The development process included a series of handoffs from team member to team member. With the new DevOps approach, all activity occurs simultaneously in a “virtual circle” of continuous development, deployment, and integration.  Project teams use to a serial approach must adjust their work styles to accommodate more complex and compacted schedules to meet the fast turnaround times required by modern business processes.

The knowledge and skills obtained through the Project Management concentration of Norwich University's online MBA program help students meet these and other challenges. In addition to deepening soft skills of leadership, communication, and critical thinking, coursework focuses on the tools, techniques and strategies to lead today’s more sophisticated projects.

An MBA Program Geared to Project Management’s Future

Preparing business managers for the future of project management is the foundation of Norwich University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. In particular, the coursework in the program’s Project Management concentration prepares students for the Project Management Institute (PMI) professional certifications. The concentration is accredited by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Accreditation Programs (GAC).

Courses in the Project Management concentration teach students core business concepts and competencies in leadership, communication, and critical thinking:

  • Project Management Techniques, Tools, and Practices: Covers the project management framework, project lifecycle, project integration, time and cost management, resource management, and scheduling.
  • Project Management Leadership, Communications, and Teams: Emphasizes the development of leadership skills such as how to win stakeholder cooperation, creating rules to manage expectations, and devising realistic schedules. The course also describes how to accurately estimate projects; encourage team spirit among project members; and balance project costs, schedules, and quality.
  • Strategic Management in Project Management: Teaches students how to apply the project management concepts studied in the previous two courses by planning and managing their projects. In this prototype project, students create the project framework and manage such aspects as the project life cycle; project integration; scheduling; and the management of time, costs, and resources.

Norwich University’s Role in Preparing for Project Management

The Project Management concentration offered within Norwich University’s online MBA program is accredited by the PMI GAC. Learn more about the benefits of the Project Management concentration in Norwich University’s online MBA program and how it prepares students for the future of project management.


Recommended Reading

5 Key Tactics of Successful Project Managers
What Can You Do with an MBA? 7 Career Paths in the Business World
MSM vs. MBA: Which Degree Is Right for You?


Enterprise Organizations Plan to Double AI Deployments in 2020, ZDNet
The Project Manager of the Future: Developing Digital-Age Project Management Skills to Thrive in Disruptive Times, Project Management Institute
Project Management Predictions: What Are the Future Trends?, Medium
What Is a Project Manager? The Lead Role for Project Success, CIO
The Future of Work: Leading the Way with PMTQ, Project Management Institute
4 Project Management Trends on the Horizon… Are You Ready?, Forbes
Project Professionals Will Play a Critical Role in Our Response to Climate Change and Delivering Clean Growth - APM, PoliticsHome
How to Become a Project Manager: A Cheat Sheet, TechRepublic
How Project Managers Are Essential to AI Deployment, TechRepublic
Master of Business Administration, Norwich University

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