After the tumultuous economic impacts of COVID-19, 2021 is our first chance to see the medium to long term effects on the workforce. One noticeable trend is that remote project managers will become more the norm, as digital platforms and online spaces become the ‘workplace’ of choice. That’s a joint reflection of cost-cutting, social distancing and a realisation that it is an effective way of doing business.
Take a look at the top seven forecasted project management trends below:
1. Technology and leadership
There will be a growing need to embrace technology and show leadership. Managing virtual teams will become a highly valuable skill, no more so than in the field of project management. Of course, technology will drive much of this change. Virtual meeting spaces were around before COVID-19, but now they are ubiquitous and becoming more with every passing week. The project manager who can embrace these platforms and get the most from contractors and staff will be most in demand. After all, there will always be the need for a guiding hand to oversee complex (and often expensive) projects, particularly in an online setting.
2. IT will lead the way
A project manager’s ability to manage, adapt and integrate new technology or software will be crucial. We have already seen examples of that during the experience of 2020. Managers who seized opportunities to implement new technology that increased productivity and efficiency became the ‘go-to’s’ in a rapidly changing environment. It became clear that even those already in project management needed to become acquainted with the latest developments and do so quickly. The need to embrace technology and not go back to familiar ways still applies in a post-2020 world.
3. Mental fortitude and a strong personality
The demands placed on a project manager will be more intense than ever. That alone, apart from all the new challenges, will require strong mental fortitude to juggle the varying tasks and complexities of each project. That might mean a combination of balancing budgets, employees, stakeholders, or clients, within the same hour, with all the added complexities that remote workplaces bring. Project managers need to be resilient enough to handle the varied and often challenging tasks that come with the job. Mental strength and confidence are crucial for anyone hoping to enter a project management leadership position in the years ahead. The best way to ensure confidence is to upskill your knowledge with relevant qualifications.
4. Creating virtual and remote teams
Until March 2020, remote working was the exception. Now it is very much the rule. Roy Morgan research conducted in June 2020 showed that about one-third of working Australians, or 4.5 million people, transitioned to working from home (WFH) arrangements throughout the year.
Of course, remote workers require managing outside of the typical office or construction environment. In many industries, project managers will deal with staff across a wide range of geographical locations and time zones. These remote staff, or freelancers, provide flexibility, time savings, and can help project managers with the resources required to assign tasks for completion. However, they also require careful management. Therefore, a project manager must be ready to put systems and procedures into place that ensure they can closely monitor the progress of work.
5. Salaries and qualifications in 2021
As is often the case, those who undertake further education will see benefits in terms of their remuneration. Completing a Diploma of Project Management (BSB51415) is no different. Below is a list of anticipated average-to-highest salaries in a variety of project management specialties for 2021.
- Senior project manager: $141,102 – $195,000
- Information technology: $136,312 – $177,594
- Construction: $160,000 – $180,000
- Engineering: $108,480 – $162,970
- Junior project manager (general): $75,000 – $103,000
6. Artificial and data Intelligence
Pre-2020, the inclusion of artificial and data intelligence to the workplace was already well established. In project management, that trend will increase through 2021 and beyond. Especially during the early stages of projects, such as creating first drafts of programming schedules and risk assessments, their advantages are clear. The automation of tasks such as scheduling and tactical planning are examples of how the project manager’s role will increasingly focus on integrating technology while maintaining crucial human relationships and communications with clients and stakeholders. Add to this the impact of data capture and robotic technology on issues such as social distancing in factory settings, and it becomes clear that the project manager of the future requires the most up-to-date skills and knowledge available in the marketplace.
7. Global outlook improves
Australia’s project management sector has seen a spike in the job market. That means demand has (and will) significantly increase for these qualified individuals. It has been estimated that between 2017 and 2027, the number of Australian project management jobs will increase by about 100,000, to well over half a million. Other factors might expedite, or even increase, that number. The Australian government is spending billions on infrastructure programs, and billions more on safeguarding career pathways (apprentices, for example). All these projects, and the workers who build them, will require project managers to help oversee the process.
Qualifications will broaden your skills
With the emergence of new software and the increased impact that Artificial Intelligence will have upon the project management field, it has never been more important for project management professionals to be highly skilled providers of services. Undertaking a Diploma of Project Management (BSB51415) will help create the skills and knowledge required to be competitive in the current marketplace. For the qualified project manager, a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB51918) is the next logical step. A diploma or double diploma teaches current information and makes a favourable impression in the recruitment process.
A willingness to embrace new and emerging technologies, particularly by understanding the best way to incorporate new automation systems, is what will set apart the project managers of 2021 and beyond. Those committed to embracing change are most likely to succeed. Increasing your value with a qualification would be a positive way to deal with all the inevitable project management evolutions and trends we will see in 2021. It’s not just a commitment to your profession, but an investment in yourself that will pay dividends now more than ever.