Imagine what project management looked like 10 or 20 years ago? I remember, as I was there. The available tools were different and far fewer. Methodologies were reduced as well.

What about the teams? Smaller? And here we are today and things have changed dramatically. Some for the better, and some not so better perhaps…

Remember, change is always occurring. Especially in project management. The software tools evolve as quickly as the trends. I remember being what was called a road-warrior.

Fly in to the customer site on a Monday morning, fly our Friday afternoon. The face-to-face approach was paramount years ago.

Fast forward to 2010 when I started my consulting practice, we pushed for remote work. Web meetings became our friend. Even training was virtualized.

We became quite comfortable with a collocated work approach. It fit us well being a small business trying to grow.

Of course there are other important factors in project management trends. Many people underestimate the importance of organization. All of the potential work that people can do doesn’t actually become real until somebody organizes it. And a better it is organized, the more efficient the output.

That is why project management and leadership skills in general provide so much value. In fact, the industry for project management software alone was worth close to $5 billion in 2020!

The project management world can be complicated. If you learned about project management five years ago, you might be shocked how much things have changed since then. Changes in project management trends follow shifts in technology and the propagation of new insights into the science of project management.

So how can you make sure that you are using the best project management systems and tools available? Read on to learn all about project management trends and what they can do for you!

1. Driven by Artificial Intelligence 

project management trends of 2021 - driven by artificial intelligence

When you look at the project management trends 2021 has experienced, artificial intelligence is one of the driving factors behind the evolution of the arena.

In fact, most professionals in the project management space say that artificial intelligence is changing the nature of their organizations. And if that is what people are saying today, you can only imagine what they will be saying tomorrow. Artificial intelligence is on the rise, and it is impossible to predict how much it will revolutionize this industry and others.

In the past, project managers have managed a combination of busy work and high-level thinking and organization. Some people have made their career off of being extremely good at the busywork. Other people have emphasized their high-level thinking.

Artificial intelligence is beginning to automate things that used to have to be done by hand. As this trend continues, there will be an increased need for people who can provide high-level thinking. That is where artificial intelligence still struggles to make any meaningful contribution.

On the other hand, people who focus on busy work may be on the way out. More and more, people will have to focus on filling the niches that artificial intelligence cannot.

Artificial intelligence has already started to take center stage on things like performing risk analysis. It also helps to identify insights and how to improve performance and make predictions based on past information.

That is a lot of the same things that project managers have traditionally done. Future project managers will have to provide other things. Machine learning and artificial intelligence among them.

Many people who first get into project management and managing projects & resources start reinventing the wheel. They put together systems to track data and focus on improving key performance indicators.

However, this work has really already been done. People have already worked on software to provide organization and key performance indicators. Brilliant professionals have refined those software tools over a long period and implemented a project management methodology.

The result is that project managers are starting to lean more on software tools. Even if you think you can improve upon what already exists, you should know what exists before starting. You might find out that the project management software tools today are better than you think.

Software project management tools allow you to update key performance indicators instantaneously via our project plan. They help managers stay on top of budgets and notice expenses that might otherwise slip through the cracks.

They also help with transparency. They can keep everyone on the same page about every update a project has. 

3. Remote Working on the Rise

project management trends of 2021 - remote work

One of the biggest causes of the top project management trends in recent years is the pandemic. When you think about it, it is no surprise that this has been a time of rapid change. When the environment changes, the best project managers have to adjust.

Remote teams resulting in remote work has strongly affected the world of project management. It has pushed the industry in the direction of systematization. Certain things that used to be important are now less critical.

In a certain sense, it is strange that we were not already doing remote work. The technology to do so has been around for a while. But it was not until the pandemic forced us to that we realized the potential of remote work for our project teams.

Now that people have seen what remote work is like, it is likely it will remain. A lot of people might come back to the office, but not everyone will. 

Not only do a lot of workers like working from home, but management is also responding. A lot of CFOs are making plans for people to keep working remotely.

Some of the advantages of project management software get even bigger in this situation. You can use them to let everybody share their work. That can help keep teams on the same page when they can no longer meet in person.

4. Demand for Well-Rounded Leaders 

The qualifications to be a project manager are growing more sophisticated all the time. These days, there is a stronger emphasis on emotional intelligence. To get the most out of people, you have to be able to understand them.

At the end of the day, businesses are made up of people. A great project manager needs to be able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. That way, they can lean on people’s strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

On top of that, it is vital to be able to put your ego aside. The product manager who aims at maintaining their ego is not aiming purely at project success. Someone who is emotionally secure is capable of aiming at project success without distraction.

project management trends of 2021 - big data changes everything

With the rise of remote work, it can take more emotional intelligence to still connect with people. That is one more reason that project managers need emotional intelligence.

5. Big Data Is Changing Everything 

Big data has been a big deal for the past ten years or so. It is making its way into every industry. It is now affecting project management as well.

Massive amounts of data are fed into artificial intelligence for data analysis. That artificial intelligence can make the most of that data in real time. The result is insights that can help project managers to up their game via true data analytics.

6. Significance of Hybrid Project Management 

There are a lot of different strategies for project management. In the past, most people have specialized in just one method. However, more and more managers are bringing other systems together.

There are advantages to the agile business philosophy. But that does not mean that you cannot rely on traditional business principles as well. Combining them requires you to understand how each one applies to your own business and project.

7. Soft Skills Are Becoming Central 

We have already discussed the importance of emotional intelligence and how artificial intelligence is replacing rote tasks. Together, these trends push product managers towards soft skills.

Soft skills are essential when there is a conflict between team members. It is also vital when you need to negotiate with a supplier or a customer. These kinds of skills are harder to quantify and measure.

At the same time, they’re becoming more and more critical. Don’t be surprised if people start to pay more attention to what references say about you than what your resume says on paper. 

project management trends of 2021 - different strategies are overlapping

8. Different Strategies Are Overlapping

People hired project managers because they wanted specific projects to run well. However, many businesses realize that their project managers have a unique skill set. That skillset makes them simultaneously useful for other tasks.

Some businesses are starting to rely on project managers to assist with organizational strategy. 

9. Older Systems Are Dying Out

Project management offices have done a lot of good work in the past. However, some businesses are starting to use them less and less. These offices tend to be robust organizations that lack agility.

The world is changing more quickly all the time. A successful project manager needs to be agile and adjust their strategies and tactics at a moment’s notice. This is another way businesses are looking for project managers who have skills that are difficult to quantify.

Kanban in Project Management

Kanban’s is also expanding across numerous industries. Previously Kanban was only seen on manufacturing shop floors to help streamline workers. Other industries are now using it, especially the software development industry. Other Agile methodologies are being melded together with Kanban in order to increase a teams ability to produce.

We hope you learned something helpful from this article on some of the most significant project management trends of the year. The industry is constantly evolving, which means that the most powerful tools are continually updating. Keeping up to date on the latest trends allows you to make sure you are not missing out on robust project management systems.