The Future of Project Management and the 4 Skills You’ll Need

Management technology is massively disrupting project management.

In fact, Jon Broome, Chair of APM (Association for Project Management), suggested that advancements in technology will automate most administrative functions of project management. For instance, schedules and risk registers will be generated by artificial intelligence using hard data.

Meanwhile, Michael DePrisco, vice president of PMI (Project Management Institute), pointed out that the core focus of future project leaders will be understanding and leveraging technology to deliver more value.

As a result, enterprising professionals are wondering how to best prepare for the coming tidal wave of changes brought on by technological advancement.

Well, here are four skills project leaders will need regardless:

  • Data science
  • Conflict resolution
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Resource management

In the following sections, we’ll delve into what these skills entail, why they’re important, and how they fit into the future of project management.

What Is the Future of Project Management in Light of Advanced Technology

Project management has changed a lot in recent years due to emerging trends, such as remote teams, digitization, and automation.

Today’s companies rely heavily on tech solutions for planning, executing, and monitoring tasks. For instance:

  • Artificial intelligence and big data for effective risk forecasting
  • Digitization technologies for remote progress tracking
  • Automation software for faster execution

These solutions have enhanced companies’ management capabilities and influenced the future of project management. Research suggests that 80% of project management tasks will be automated by 2030 and future managers will require greater technical skills.

They will need to be familiar with cybersecurity, blockchains, machine learning, and robotics— which are set to play greater roles in management.

Later on, we’ll follow these developments to help you prepare for the future of project management jobs.

Is Project Management a Dying Profession?

As automation takes over tasks, such as data collection and reporting, many are worried about the future of the project management profession. 

Will automation, predicted to rise to 80% by 2030, eliminate the need for project managers?—after all, this does save an American interior design company $75,850 in annual wages.

No. Technology will continue transforming management while collaborating with project leaders.

As such, future managers will need to develop skills in areas where tech falls short, i.e., soft skills. This is because management technology depends largely on the input from skilled experts.

Management technology will handle the mundane, business-as-usual tasks but rely on the manager’s ability to:

  • Inspire the team
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Negotiate with partners
  • Build team confidence

Already, companies are placing greater value on managers with strong soft skills. According to a recent organizational survey, soft skills are the most needed skill for project managers (45% citation) followed by technical skills (39% citation).

Therefore, the future of the project management profession needs both technical and soft skills rather than a complete shift to AI and similar tools.

Is Agile the Future of Project Management?

Agile project management delivers 11 times more return on investment than waterfall approaches and is 5 times more effective at cost and quality control. As such, agile is the dominant management philosophy with influence well beyond its IT department origins.

Even so, research shows that only 35% of projects launched worldwide are successful. Given the high rates of failure, is agile really the future of project management?

The simple answer is, no. Despite its numerous benefits, agile is unsuitable for:

  • Large, stable projects with well-defined objectives
  • Projects where stakeholders are not available throughout a project’s life cycle for consultation

Instead, the future is adaptive project management which features hybrid approaches—a combination of agile and waterfall management methods.

Future of Project Management Jobs

The average salary of project managers varies according to industry.

The personal care services sector has the highest with $151,360 per year and $72.77 per hour. Meanwhile, residential building construction has the least with $84,810 and $40.78 per hour

The following table compares salary averages across more industries.

IndustryAnnual Average Salary
Personal care services$151,360
Oil and gas extraction$136,590
Architectural, engineering, and related services$106,240
Management, scientific, and technical consulting$104,410
Non-residential building consulting$102,460
Residential building construction$84,810

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

These averages are set to rise as project management extends to sectors such as health and finance, especially in emerging economies like China and India. This extension will also create 25 million employment opportunities by 2030. 

This means that the global project economy needs 2.3 million managers every year just to keep up with projected demand.

Future Trends of Project Management

Think back to what project management looked like 10 years ago—fewer tools, smaller teams, and simpler projects. Since then, the project landscape has evolved with major trends, including:

  • Blockchain
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Sustainability
  • Remote teams

In the following section, we’ll look at why they’re important.

Trend 1 – Blockchain

More companies are taking up blockchain solutions for management, such as when investigating disputes. Blockchain’s ability to automatically update records makes it perfect for reconciling records and transactions.

One of blockchain’s most important contributions to project management will be its smart contracts—essentially self-executing contracts powered by computer code.

Smart contracts speed up management workflows by reducing the number of critical functions that fall under the project manager—such as checking on project milestones and assigning new ones.

In turn, the faster workflow ensures timely delivery of projects and enhances a company’s overall effectiveness.

Trend 2 – Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is quickly making its way into project management technology, handling anything from predictive analysis to risk management. Its effectiveness is why, by 2030, AI is projected to contribute:

  •  $42.7 B (7.7%) to Egypt’s economy
  •  $135.2 B (12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s economy
  •  $96.3 B (13.6%) to the UAE economy

AI’s core capability is providing data insights for decision-making, which enhances the agility of any given project.

Think of a manager deciding on which features to include on a product; AI identifies relationships and trends in customer data, then makes recommendations on which product features are most likely to sell.

Such insights boost an organization’s competitiveness by preventing commitment to poorly- planned, risky projects.

Trend 3 – Sustainability

Today, project sustainability is more important than ever. Governments and societies worldwide demand greener approaches throughout a project’s life cycle.

From a business perspective, green initiatives are cost-saving strategies. For instance, energy is essential for project execution, and a shift to renewable sources limits expenditure. This frees up resources that can be channeled to other critical areas, such as innovation and research.

Meanwhile, sustainable practices enhance a company’s reputation and inspire loyalty with customers.

Trend 4 – Remote Teams

Alt: remote teams

With the emergence of communication technologies, remote teams have become the norm.

Businesses benefit from a more comprehensive and borderless talent pool that’s cheaply accessible via contracts. They also spend less on office space, travel, and other administration costs. 

So, It’s not surprising that 65% of workers believe that offices will go fully virtual over the next few years.

Generally, remote working arrangements allow companies to stretch their resources and maximize operational efficiency. As such, they are critical for building lean, competitive businesses.

Skills Future Project Managers Need 

A fundamental understanding of concepts such as data science, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship is necessary to keep up with trends in modern project management.

For example, data science knowledge helps a manager incorporate AI into more aspects of the project life cycle.

Here’s a deeper look at what these skills entail and how they keep pace with future developments in project management.

Skill 1 – Data Science

The insights generated by big data are indispensable management tools, especially for major projects with long life cycles.

From a planning perspective, insights from past projects reveal inefficiencies that inform the current project; for example, the number of slack hours and their causes.

From an execution standpoint, data analyses track progress and detect deviations early; for instance, changes in material prices and exchange rates beyond projections.

As such, project managers need to understand concepts such as statistical inference and regression analysis, which are taught in Quantic’s MBA.

The program features eight courses on data and decisions that teach you how to test and draw accurate conclusions from data.

Skill 2 – Conflict Resolution

Today’s projects are highly complex with ever-changing deliverables. As such, conflicts are never too far away.

Left unresolved, these conflicts can disrupt your team’s effectiveness, which leads to delays and missed deliverables.

Therefore, managers must understand the various aspects of conflict resolution, such as:

  • Behavioral and organizational elements of a conducive work environment
  • Effective communication
  • Effective contingency planning

Quantic’s Executive MBA program teaches these skills with a seven-course module on leadership. The topics covered include organizational behavior and working in teams.

Skill 3 – Entrepreneurship

Project managers are essentially CEOs. On one hand, they’re handling project deliverables, and on the other, they’re negotiating with shareholders and setting objectives based on forecasts.

As such, it takes more than technical and administrative skills to be effective.

Project leaders also need entrepreneurship skills, such as strategic thinking and market perception. This is especially useful when adjusting deliverables, as is common with agile projects such as software development.

The Quantic MBA program equipped Lindsey Allard with the skills and knowledge to successfully launch and grow her own company. She leveraged technology to make user research more accessible and efficient, which can be useful for project managers looking to conduct user research for their projects. Lindsey’s experience demonstrates the importance of continuously learning and expanding one’s areas of expertise to be successful in the constantly evolving field of project management.

Quantic’s comprehensive MBA program teaches entrepreneurship skills with a course on customer validation. You’ll learn how to measure demand and develop an optimized sales strategy.

Skill 4 – Resource Management

As projects grew larger and more complex, budgets grew smaller with tighter timelines.

Today, project managers grapple with keeping the budget, delivering quality, and meeting deadlines with limited resources. Essentially, they’re tasked with building a lean organization.

This necessitates a delicate balance of resource allocation for maximum effectiveness, since over-allocation to one task limits the others. Therefore, managers must be familiar with resource management concepts such as equilibrium shifts and elasticity.

Apply to Quantic’s MBA program which features a course on microeconomics that will teach you more about managing market equilibrium points.

Finding out about Quantic and deciding to apply is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Raphael Sung, CEO, Lemmino.


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