Look Out! What’s Ahead for Project Management in 2018

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Categories: PM & the Economy


By Cyndee Miller

It’s the fundamental quandary facing anyone looking to futureproof: How does one separate a serious business trend from a fleeting flight of fancy? Matters get even murkier considering it’s the nascent ideas living on the edges that intrigue the most — those things just starting to bubble up that threaten (or promise) to change everything. Predicting how all of it will play out requires an almost surreal level of intuition tempered with down-the-rabbit-hole research.

Just a few weeks into the new year, we’re already seeing some interesting stats. The World Economic Forum is predicting a “critical period of intensified risks in 2018,” with respondents pointing to extreme weather events, natural disasters and cyberattacks as the most likely culprits. But the group also pointed to the prospect of strong economic growth that presents leaders with a “golden opportunity to address signs of severe weakness in many of the complex systems that underpin our world.” Quick translation? Projects — lots and lots of super-cool projects, like Saudi Arabia’s US$500 billion new Neom mega smart city. This, in turn, will mean even greater demand for project management expertise.

Now much of that expertise belongs to women. So if we’re looking at trends, there’s no ignoring this one. Women in the workplace — their roles, their compensation, their career paths — has been a conversation for decades. Yet even the most forward-looking pundits couldn’t have predicted how the issue would explode late last year — and continue to reverberate in 2018. The project management profession is no exception. “No matter how hard you work, as a woman, you will always be expected to work harder to prove yourself,” Paige Barnes, PMP, senior IT project manager at the American Medical Association, says in an upcoming issue of PM Network. And even with that added work, most women will make less. In Brazil, for example, the average salary for male project managers is BRL157,073 versus BRL141,601 for women, according to PMI’s 2017 Project Management Salary Survey. Australia follows a similar pattern: AU$149,698 versus AU$137,756 for females.

Smart organizations know the payoff for closing the gender gap is real: A recent paper in Financial Management posits fostering diversity makes a company more innovative, a necessity in the current disrupt- or-die business environment. Machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and all sorts of things that once seemed strictly for sci-fi flicks are fast becoming de rigueur in project portfolios. Just look at Adidas’ robot-powered factory that lets the sneaker giant unleash a whole new generation of mass personalization projects. It’s sexy stuff, but those projects must also be aligned with a strong strategy.

No doubt, some of the more bleeding-edge projects are the province of early adopters. Yet Deloitte found only 9 percent of respondents believe cognitive development and AI is overhyped. Indeed, those “who had implemented more projects, invested more and employed more sophisticated technologies” showed the highest satisfaction rates.

The shifting landscape means new challenges — and opportunities — for project and program managers. Theories abound on what it will take to get ahead in 2018. Some, like the growing mainstream appeal of agile, are essentially a continuation from 2017. But there are also some wild cards, like Amy Hamilton, PMP, on The Girl’s Guide to Project Management, declaring civility as the new must-have.

This year’s PM Network Jobs Report not only looks at skills, but dives into the hot (and some not-so-hot) sectors and geographic regions for both full-timers and those who want to try their hand at the gig economy. Overall, though, it looks pretty darn promising: PMI’s research predicts employers will need 87.7 million people working in project management-oriented roles by 2027.

The profession itself is also gaining more serious credit. On the very first day of the new year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, added “project management specialist” to its Standard Occupation Classification system. Sounds pretty wonky, but it’s a powerful testament to the value project managers deliver to the overall economy.

Don’t make me futureproof on my own. What are your predictions for project management in 2018?

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: January 22, 2018 09:40 AM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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interesting article. thx

I think healthcare/ pharma will be an active sector. Already seen some mega mergers on the HC and pharma sides. i'm also guessing amazon's new HQ will open up a sea of opportunities for various professions, including PMs.

I am assuming augmented reality, AI, self driving everything and green energy would make the most in 2018 and onward.

I am assuming augmented reality, AI, self driving everything and green energy would make the most in 2018 and onward.

The more we automate, the more we need efficient project managers with functional expertise, management skills and interpersonal skills! Robots are coming but Human is still there...

I'd be interested in seeing if any unsupervised machine learning experiments in PM bear fruit!

Kiron

Cyndee,

Very interesting summary.Thanks for sharing - I noticed that manufacturing & construction will be on top of the list. I have two questions:

1- When I clicked on the link you provided: PM Network Jobs Report - It took me to a brief and very nice report. How can I check those report regularly. I know it was part of the PM Network for January but this link provided a nice summary.

2- Is the salary survey report 10th Edition the latest edition ?

Thanks.

That Neom mega city sounds great.

Thanks for interesting article.

Thanks

Thanks for sharing, informative article.

Great Post. Thanks for Sharing!

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