ESI Announces Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2012
Collaboration Gains Importance as Project Complexity Grows
London, UK – January 5, 2012 – As the project environment grows in complexity, project management will require
team, stakeholder and executive collaboration in 2012 like never before. On-the-job application of training,
custom-made project approaches, innovative project tools and smarter resource management will be essential
for driving the greatest business impact. Not only project management, but also the definition of “project success”
has changed to encompass more than the triple constraint. Collaboration is a common theme throughout many of
the 2012 Top 10 Trends for project management, which were determined by a global panel of ESI International
senior executives and subject matter experts.
1. Programme management will gain momentum, but resources remain in short supply
Increasingly, large initiatives undertaken by corporations and government agencies are being recognised for what
they are and aren’t: namely programmes, not projects, which require a highly advanced set of skills supported
by appropriate tools and methods to successfully execute. Yet many organisations struggle to find the right
people and lack the management practices necessary to ensure success. In 2012 we will see more investments
made in competency models, training, methodology development, tool use, and career pathing to ensure that
professionals who carry the title Programme Manager are fit for the role.
2. Collaboration software solutions will become an essential business tool for project teams
The proliferation of collaborative software in the project environment such as SharePoint® is going to intensify
in 2012. Fueled by increasingly complex and virtual projects as well as tightened budgets, today’s environment
demands a more efficient way to manage communication and workflow. Collaboration is central to project
management and having a site which allows project artifacts to be created, shared, and distributed within a
repository that provides Web-based access and critical functions such as automatic distribution and notification,
version control, and user authentication, greatly enhances productivity.
3. Learning transfer will become the new mantra, but with little structured application
Learning transfer - the ability to apply training back on the job - will continue to be on the minds of PMO heads
and learning and development (L&D) professionals who want their project managers to return from training ready
to apply what they learned immediately and accurately to their projects. While L&D and business heads agree
that sustained learning is a sound idea, very few organisations will invest in a formal process to make it happen.
In 2012 we will see many organisations discussing the importance of learning transfer without really putting in
place a structured approach to ensure it happens.
4. Agile blends with waterfall for a new “hybrid” approach
Having moved from “manifesto to mainstream,” Agile has confronted project teams with the difficulty of
implementing the experimental and hyper-collaborative approach. To transition an organisation into fully adopting
certain aspects of Agile, project teams are combining traditional and Agile elements to create their own hybrid
approach. In areas such as planning, requirements, and team communication, organisations are designing
custom-made methodologies to do what works for them.
5. Smarter project investments will require a stronger marriage between project management and
business process management (BPM)
In the financial services industry, and specifically in the insurance sector, there will be a continued laser-like
focus on performing business processes as efficiently as possible to drive down operating costs. The philosophy
of BPM is fast becoming a key factor in project selection. When new projects are proposed, their value will be
judged to a large extent on the impact they will have on the organisation’s business processes. The more impact
the project has on reducing internal costs, the higher it will be ranked. The “smart” money will be spent on driving costs out of the business. Given the high premium being placed on efficient processes delivered through projects,
BPM is a key concept with which project managers will need to be intimately familiar.
6. Internal certifications in corporations and federal agencies will eclipse the PMP®
With roughly 470,000 Project Management Professional (PMP®) credentials having been awarded worldwide
thus far, the PMP® remains the most popular and ubiquitous credential on the planet. However, it is not the
prominent credential everywhere. In the U.S. government as well as Fortune 500 corporations, a hierarchy
of “internal” credentials has overshadowed the PMP® in terms of prominence. To be sure, the PMP® remains
important, but it is now just one rung on the career ladder to get to the top.
7. More PMO heads will measure effectiveness on business results
While introducing tools, using methodologies, mapping project management practices, sending project managers
to training, and increasing the number of PMP®s in the organisation are important metrics for a PMO head to
collect and report on, they do not speak to the effectiveness of the PMO from a business perspective. To judge
business effectiveness, PMO heads need to determine if their work has had a positive, quantifiable effect on the
business in terms of troubled project reduction, lower project manager attrition, and faster time to market. In 2012
the practice of measuring the outputs, not the inputs, of project management will gain traction.
8. Good project managers will buck unemployment trends
Even though unemployment is at record levels in many countries, good project managers are hard to find.
Recruiting continues even in tough economies and organisations need individuals who can perform the basics
flawlessly. The hunger for project management basics, in particular risk management, will continue to surge in
2012, especially in such countries as India and China where project manager attrition rates are disturbingly high
and continuous training of new staff is critical.
9. Client-centric project management will outpace the “triple constraint”
For years, time, cost and scope were the metrics upon which the success of all projects and their managers were
judged. While the triple constraints remain important, they are no longer the be-all-and-end-all for project success.
While risk and quality have also been cited as additional “constraints,” the clear trend in 2012 is the value the
project delivers to the organisation. The new definition of project success is that a project can exceed its time
and cost estimates so long as the client determines that it is successful by whatever criteria they use. In today’s
environment, project value is determined by the “recipient”—or client—not the “provider.”
10. HR professionals will seek assessments to identify high-potential project managers
Because project management is such an important function, human resources professionals will be tasked more
intensely with identifying high-potential project managers in 2012. The challenge HR professionals will face is
that there is no ‘silver bullet’ assessment for identifying great project managers. Existing knowledge and skills
assessments are of little use since they are not designed for entry-level project manager positions. Nonetheless,
candidates must be measured not only on their technical abilities, but also on the all-important business and
interpersonal skills. To the best of our knowledge, no one has yet developed such an assessment, but HR
professionals will continue, and intensify, their assessment search this year.
"From the ascendancy of social media to the structured implementation of collaboration tools by the PMO and the
steady rise of communities of practice, we are fast approaching a tipping point,” said J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP,
Executive Vice President, Product Strategy & Management, ESI International “Those project organisations that
don’t exploit such collaborative channels and technology will risk missing the most promising combination of force
multipliers of the decade."
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About ESI International
ESI, a subsidiary of Informa plc (LSE:INF), helps people around the world improve the way they manage projects,
contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative learning. In addition to ESI’s more than 100 courses
delivered in more than a dozen languages at hundreds of locations worldwide, ESI offers several certificate
programmes through our educational partner, The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Founded
in 1981, ESI’s worldwide headquarters are in Arlington, Va., USA. To date, ESI’s programmes have benefited
more than 1.35 million professionals worldwide.