At the back end of last year a number of organisations, including Gartner, made some predictions about Project Management (PM) trends for 2015. The New Year is still in its infancy but it is interesting to see how many have already started to surface in reality. Here I’ve distilled some of them into 7 key predictions that I’ve already seen evidence of in a number of businesses.

1. Reduced Availability Increases PM Talent Cost

Forecast by most observers as a trend for the year, January and February has already seen increased demand on experienced Project Management Talent which is in turn pushing up costs. The causes are many-fold, increased confidence across various sectors has seen organisations either take projects from the mothballs or initiate new projects having re-evaluated their IT estate against their growth ambitions. Compliance and regulation changes and new technologies added to a wholesale de-staffing of in-house Project Management Offices (PMO) has created a gap between supply and demand pushing PM costs north.
A consequence of this has been that often PMs are managing projects above their experience and projects are not delivering on key targets.

2. PM Moves Up the Pecking Order

For a number of years I have been calling for organisations to include their PMO in business strategy conception and it’s finally starting to happen. Makes sense. Imagine your project is a house. The traditional role of the PMO in this analogy has been a cross between buyer and builder but a PM actually brings skills similar to an architect to your project. Who wouldn’t have the architect in on the meeting that draws up the blue prints? A consequence of this has been that already stretched Project Managers are having their workload increased in the short term, however the increased input is providing greater yield in terms of cost savings and extra efficiencies as a result of drawing upon their expertise earlier.

3. The Blurring Of Change Management & PM

An inevitable by-product of any project is change. Managing the impact of that change on the business and all project stakeholders can significantly increase the value it returns. Again it makes sense that all those responsible for implementation are fully “on board” with the change and who better to manage this than the Project Manager driving it. Globally businesses are now expecting this as part of the deal and some PMs are relishing the new opportunity to drive greater returns, others are struggling with new skillsets but they need to get with the trend because it’s only heading in one direction – change and project management functions are merging!

4. Speeding Up Response Times

That UK banks have introduced fingerprint technology to allow users to access their banking apps is an illustration of this point. Businesses that have traditionally been a little slow off the mark when it comes to IT are having to respond to increased customer expectations. Project Managers are having to speed up their responses to meet these expectations. Coming at PMs from the other way are new technologies to keep up with and from another direction increased regulation and compliance demands are creating extra challenges. PMs are increasingly the glue that hold these various pressures together and we’re seeing this added to the Project Management Office skillset across many sectors and regions and the more adaptable PMs are benefitting from their increased prominence.

5. Lack Of PM Training Impacts Delivery

Year after year, one of the main complaints of PM talent is that there is insufficient ongoing training. Given the increased expectations and workload it is hard to imagine PMs having time to sharpen the saw but inevitably the less you sharpen the blunter it gets. Frustratingly, but perhaps inevitably, organisations with in-house PMO are routinely ignoring this great opportunity to increase their PMO’s efficiency, those that do invest in mentoring and coaching are benefitting from enhanced productivity.

6. Project Management-As-A-Service

Perhaps as a result of the five trends above, many organisations are outsourcing all or part of their PM function. Project Management talent who operate in this way largely have a drive to keep abreast of new innovations and methodology – it’s amazing how not having a guaranteed salary focuses the mind that way. The freelancers’ instinct of constant improvement is a useful strength that your business can harness either by direct hiring of external talent of through a third party offering PMaaS. Often the latter option can reduce the risk of having to hire in talent for longer than you actually need them and work out more efficient for both Project Manager and client organisation.

7. Head In The Clouds

Cloud-based solutions are flooding the market, and while they are solving a lot of problems they are creating a few as well. Several PMs within my circle of contacts have expressed frustration at being tasked with exploring a cloud-based solution that they know is totally incompatible with the business case just because someone on the board has read a magazine article or blog. The expectations of business leaders and owners are having to be managed by Project Managers as there is often a gap between those expectations and what cloud-based platforms can actually deliver.

Some PMs are seeing each of these already emerging trends for 2015 as an aggravation – I think that each is a great opportunity to expand the influence of project management talent within their organisation and all of them point to one overarching and very encouraging trend – that the Project Manager’s role is growing, their workload is growing and their importance to their business is growing. And long may that trend continue.