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Author: Donna Reed

More 2010 Project Management Trends

Project Management Trends2010 brings with it multiple trends for project management. It is not surprising that many of these trends will help mature the world of project management as we know it today. Just as businesses must be flexible with market conditions, project management professionals and organizations must also adapt accordingly.

In talking to industry leaders in project management, several trends stand out.

Economic conditions have changed. Companies are changing and project managers must understand these changes to be leaders.

Enterprises Continue to Look for Efficiencies in Process and Technology

Companies will continue to look for ways to become more efficient and save money in both the short and long run. They will do this by re-evaluating their processes and technology. Lean thinking will take precedence in influencing how this happens.

“Clients are asking themselves a few key questions: Are we doing things the most efficient way possible? How can we improve our utilization of people, process and technology?” said Michele Frank at Tryton Solutions (a consulting company that specializes in optimizing technology solutions).

We will see Lean-Kanban approaches emerge in management processes and projects as companies take a look at where they are today and determine where it makes sense to optimize work flows and limit the amount of work in process to achieve the improvement results desired.

Richard Leavitt, EVP of worldwide marketing at Rally Software adds to this by saying, “Emerging IT management practices will incorporate and be measured on lean principles such as:

  • Smaller batch sizes of work,
  • Watching queue sizes of work,
  • Limiting actual work in process (WIP), and a
  • More continuous “flow of value” to customers.”

From a technology standpoint, organizations are taking a step back to look at their IT portfolio (hardware and applications). According to Michelle Frank, data warehouses, architectures and infrastructure upgrades are just not happening like a few years ago. Instead they are incrementally improving the technology they already have.

Enterprises will be in search of PMs that have a broad range of technology and process improvement experience. They’ll look especially for PMs with knowledge in tuning and making legacy technology perform to its highest ability for customer satisfaction and to meet customer SLAs. They’ll also be seeking PMs that understand business processes well enough to apply lean thinking to them, making them more efficient and effective for quicker results.

Agile and Lean Processes are Overtaking Waterfall

With the need to do more with less, the demand by executives for predictability in projects and customers needing valuable deliverables produced quicker. Agile and lean processes will become much more the norm rather than the exception in projects during 2010.

Rally Software founder and CTO, Ryan Martens, said that “2010 continues the evolution from traditional phased, stage gates to iterative & incremental program reviews.”

“Agile and Lean processes passed the tipping point in 2009 and Waterfall/RUP is in decline. In 2010, project and portfolio management (PPM) must bridge the gap between Agile planning and progress metrics (e.g. velocity, points, etc) and traditional financial measures of hours and dollars”, adds Richard Leavitt, EVP of worldwide marketing at Rally Software.

“In 2009, PMI and SEI recognized the appropriateness of Agile PMs within their space. In 2010, both of those communities will experience a dramatic change. I’m in a unique position to see what people are planning, and I can say with certainty that ‘Agile’ will be talked about by people who have never heard of it before. There will be droves of newcomers finding it awkward to discuss a modern approach to management. But, there will also be experts who have to confront the trend of their niche becoming commonplace,” adds Jesse Fewell, co-Founder of PMI’s Agile Community of Practice.

Companies are already trying to transition to Agile, but when we look under the covers we see they are really just doing waterfall in short iterations. So without proper training on how to do this transition, concern will continue to grow regarding project managers’ ability to deal with a new Agile world.

“Unfortunately there are still many project managers who are far more comfortable with a traditional world of command and control that will struggle in this transition to more of an Agile world,” says James Christie, a Chartered IT Professional from IBM.

“Larger companies have a mandate to go to Scrum, but they’re not adding the engineering practices, they’re not getting training (especially product owners), so they’re having trouble,” says Johanna Rothman, CEO and Agile Consultant/Trainer from Rothman Consulting Group)

It’s like building that jungle gym playground and not reading the directions. What it built right? Will it stand up? What are these extra parts for?

Look for training and certifications in Agile and Lean project management to emerge to development project management leaders so they can successfully “build those jungle gyms” and assist companies in their transition to Agile.

The need for Agile and Lean coaching will be in more demand as well. By companies bringing experts in to teach, model and coach teams in the use of Agile and Lean practices that work for them; since every environment is different, one size doesn’t always fit all. This will catapult a company’s transition to Agile.

Individual consultants will be sought out to share their experience from many types of projects and environments that they have exposure to over the employee that stays at the same company for years. The mentoring concept is back.

PMs are Becoming Independent Consultants

Project management jobs are starting to open up as we slowly move out of this economic recession. Companies have been trying to cut expenses and save money, so new projects have been rather sparse in 2009, as multiple PMI Chapter Board members have shared with me recently. It will take companies a while to start up new, large projects. And there’s a good possibility that they will look to use contractors to supplement the staff that they were forced to let go last year.

When I talked to professional recruiters around the country that specialize in placing PMs and BA’s – I heard over and over that “few new projects started in 2009”. But there is good news for 2010.

“More projects will be approved this year over last year, as confidence builds throughout the year. Pessimism is quickly turning into optimism. More projects means more jobs and more spend in the economy. So it should be an exciting year to come,” said Jason Westland, CEO of | | |

We will see more and more PMs venture out on their own to become independent contractors (ICs). The larger companies seem to be especially interested in hiring ICs – hiring them for the length of a specific project or to complete projects started by previous staff that were let go in 2009.

With the trend towards three to six month contracts for PMs, we will also see ICs building trusting relationships with companies that will call on them to get the job done, and not have to always train up new PMs. It certainly benefits companies to utilize PM ICs that understand their environment, culture and processes already. They hit the ground running on projects, so there isn’t a long ramp up and learning phase.

As this year progresses, IC contracts will be renewed and extended as new projects are approved. Keeping the PMs around that are trusted and know the culture and business processes is also a cost savings that companies are realizing.

Virtual and Independent Teams Will Be more Prevalent

Virtual project teams are increasing in 2010 as well. Instead of companies maintaining all the skills internally or in one location, they are leveraging skills needed for projects where ever the skills reside. And more and more companies are going green – allowing their staff and ICs to work from home.

Independent teams are increasing as well, something we mentioned earlier. These teams are assembled from employees, contractors, consultants, outsourcing resources, and others for a specific project and only that project.

“As a result, we are seeing a move toward a world that we discussed only as a theory about 10 years ago. A world where project teams are assembled, executed, and then disappear”, says Matt Heusser, founder of Software, Test & Performance Collaborative.

Virtual teams have their challenges and require skills; they are not challenge-free.

Development, implementation and management of this type of transition from traditional business model of organizational operations to a virtual geographically-dispersed mode require:

  • Exceptional interpersonal skills,
  • Strong leadership abilities and
  • The ability to communicate with diverse cultures.

These are all soft skills needed by PMs Look for more training and coaching in this area as well.

Social Media Will Become a Norm

Communication is a critical element in the success of every project. And with the increase of virtual/distributed teams comes the need for better communication and collaboration mechanisms. Even teams that are in the same location are considered virtual if you have to get up from your desk to go talk to them.

The traditional tool of email is not fulfilling this need. We see collaboration tools such as IM-ing, web conferencing, Wikis, Sharepoint, and other tools being used to help bridge the communication gap. Especially with mobile and virtual teams growing.

“The need to communicate will increase our reliance on social networks, both outside the business using tools such as Facebook, LinkedIN and Twitter, and inside the business using tools such as Sharepoint and Socialtext,” said Matt Heusser.

Jesse Fewell, from PMI Agile’s Community of Practice, adds,”Social media will become more of an expectation and less of a novelty. From Twitter to blogging, more and more people will try using these tools, with mixed results”.

The need to communicate, as well as capturing that communication so it is accessible to team members that couldn’t make that meeting, is desperately needed and growing. Social media tools will be leveraged individually to fill the communication gap, until we see integrated collaboration tools start emerging in 2010.

Project Manager and Business Analyst Roles are Converging

The need for efficiencies and doing more with less is also driving the convergence of project management and business analyst roles. For example, who should gather requirements? The PM or BA? The answer emerges with Agile and Lean practices overtaking the traditional project management practices.

Each company and project determines what is the best fit for them. Some will require specialists and others will leverage generalists to lead the way. Just look at product managers who have been able to lead the entire SDLC from market research, requirements definition to development right to the product launch for years because they have the bigger picture in mind. The need for PMs to be more product owners, owning the definition and delivery of the solution will continue.

Ryan Martens Rally Software, says that 2010 will see a “continued move of project management professionals from the role of project management to release, scrum or product management” and with it the “continued evolution of the program management office (PMO) into a scrum of scrums office”.

PMs that can step back to see the bigger picture by will be in great demand. These are the ones that:

  • understand the business, market and technology needs,
  • become the liaison between the customer/business and the development team, and
  • Will lead (not manage) the project team from concept/initiation to launch/close,

We are not saying that PMs or BAs are being replaced – these are just titles. What will continue to happen is the redefinition of their roles on the team as Agile and Lean practices overtake the traditional ways of doing projects.

Leaders are needed – not more managers.2010 will be a very exciting year for project management.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Donna A. Reed has been consulting Fortune 100 companies and start-ups for over 20 years. She specializes in Program and Product Management (MBA, PMP, Certified ScrumMaster and Product Owner). And she is the founder of The Agilista PM Blog Site committed to enabling Project Managers, Business Analysts, Team leads and members in improving their skills at project management (